The Tuxedo

Jane’s niece is getting married soon. It’s a black-tie event in Nashville, Tennessee. I figured we could find a black tie without too much trouble, maybe even borrow one from a neighbor. Jane said black-tie means tuxedo. It seems the invitation would say tuxedo, but I didn’t argue. I could tell that her mind was made up.

She said we could rent one for around $150. I asked her who else had rented it. She had no idea. “Well,” I said, “I don’t believe I want to wear some clothes that maybe 50 other people that we don’t even know have already worn. And there’s no way I will pay $150 to use a suit for one night.”

“You want to buy a tuxedo?” she asked.

“Not all that much,” I replied, “but I’ll bet I can find one online for $150. Why not be a tux owner instead of a renter?”

“Good luck,” she said with a knowing smile.

I found a website with name-brand tuxedos at bargain prices. I almost hit the order button but decided to look at some reviews. Half the customers were delighted with their product. The other half had returned their outfits, and were wondering where their refunds were.

A major retailer in men’s clothing offered tuxedos for $500 or more. Then I saw a clearance item, a Wilke Rodriguez for $149.95. It looked like something Alan Jackson might wear to the CMA Awards. It was casket sharp, as my nephew Ben would say. Only one was in stock. I hoped I wasn’t too late.

I checked to make sure it was black, not Steve Martin Navy, as in Father of the Bride. The color was right, the size was right, the price was right. I had fought the system and won.

The coat fit perfectly. The pants, however, were a size 40, not the 38 that I expected. Monique said that was the only size available in this clearance item.

We took the pants to a company store in Albany for alteration. A very accommodating gentleman named Ed helped us. He looked at the coat and said that the pants should be size 38. “That’s what I thought,” I said, “but Monique said they only come in size 40.”

Ed went to his computer, saying he believed he could straighten this out. I asked him if I needed a belt or just suspenders.

He said, “Tuxedo pants don’t have belt loops.” I told him mine did. Ed looked at the pants and told us they weren’t tux pants. Besides the belt loops, they were missing the satin stripes. With a few clicks on the computer, Ed took care of everything.

We were so thankful for Ed’s help that we bought two more sport coats, a tux shirt, bowtie, suspenders, handkerchief, socks, and cufflinks. I’ve already spent $664.83, plus Jane and Ed are both telling me that I can’t wear my brown boots.

I’m not so sure now that I really beat the system. But I feel good knowing that I won’t have to rush to the store on Monday and turn in my outfit. Next Sunday, I may be the best dressed man at church. Mr. Wilke Rodriquez will be staying with us for a long time.

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