David and I have been married a long time. I mean, not ladies-and-gentleman-the-last-on-the-floor-for-our-wedding-dance long, but pretty darn long. Sometimes I'm reminded of how long by a particular incident. Like this one.
He wanted a new suit to go with his sharp new haircut. Now, that doesn't sound like a big deal, except when you know all the facts. Which are: he hadn't cut his hair in 18 years, and he hadn't bought a suit in 14. How do I know that last figure so precisely? Because I was there when he bought the last one, and because we had just started dating.
Four weeks into our relationship, my old pal Synthia called me up and asked me to bring David to her wedding. This was significant, because she was pretty controlling about her guest list. She said, "I just get this feeling he's going to be important in your life." Smart woman. But you might recall that I met David at a wedding, a wedding where he was wearing an elf-like costume of green pants, a mint green shirt and some sort of green tie. No jacket. He didn't own one. His shoes--brown before that evening--he had handily painted black with "shoe paint." So you're getting a picture of his personal style.
I suggested that he might be more comfortable in a traditional suit at this wedding, since it was black tie optional. He agreed, and right there you can tell that he really liked me. He was going almost as far out of his comfort zone as a few weeks later, when I enrolled him in salsa lessons (that's a story for another day, Readers.) As we drove to the mall, he was silent and edgy. When I tried massaging his neck, he snapped "Could you not PUSH my head forward when I'm driving?" He's a testy one, I thought. (Actually, I was wrong there.) When we arrived, I suggested we start in Banana Republic, of which he had never heard. "Does that have something to do with COLONIALISM?" he said. I had a bit of a stomach ache. This wasn't going to be easy.
We ended up at Nordstrom, where the capable Men's Finery dudes took over. They installed him in a big dressing room, where I could sit and watch. They brought in a black Mani suit (I heard "Armani") and told us that tailoring was included. The suit cost about 700 dollars, about which David was incredulous, noting that he had never paid so much for an article of clothing he would probably never wear again. We also chose some "furnishings," including a sharp blue shirt, a blue-and-gray tie, some dress socks and some smart shoes. I had to admit he looked pretty nice when they were done with him. Now if I could just convince him to wash his hair before this event, he'd be a looker.
We had fun at that wedding, and all the weddings after, including our own, three years later. Along the way, David got a lot more use than he expected out of that suit. We even added a couple more shirts and ties.
And now, here it was, 11 years into our marriage, sullen seven-year-old-hunched-over-iPhone in tow, after a long day of school, work and general domestic drudgery, and we were back at Nordstrom, in search of a new suit. We'd both started to notice that the old one was a bit out of date: pleated pants, thick fabric, VERY long jacket that he seemed to be swimming in.
Here we were, in the very same Nordstrom, in the very same dressing room, on the very same quest, and yet...and yet I started to see glimmers of difference. And Readers, these glimmers amused me mightily.
First off, I had researched suits before we arrived, and I already knew to ask for a particular Hugo Boss that had caught my eye. The suit guy (who seemed like a lifer, compared to the young turks on the floor) sized him up and brought him a Long. David slipped it on and pronounced it comfortable.
"No," I said.
"No?" they both said.
"No. Jacket's too long. I want something that hits about hip length. Kind of like"--my gaze swept the room, alighting on a 20-something dude behind the register--"his. I think it will look better because David has a long torso and really short legs."
"I do NOT have really short legs," David corrected.
"Okay, whatever, but I want a shorter jacket. Can he try a regular?"
"But, madam...this jacket fits him well. It's his size."
"Hmmm. No harm in trying the regular, though, right?"
Both of them seemed a bit peeved, but the regular was located, and I proclaimed it perfect. Something was wrong with the pants, though.
"Are they going up his butt?" I asked. "I think he needs some shoes. Maybe a dress shirt, to really see how everything lies."
Suit-Lifer (aka Charles) scurried off, and David was kitted out with shirt and shoes.
"Not that kind of shirt. I want something thinner. Chic-er."
Charles galloped off. David galloped after him, to ask about the pants, and I could hear them yelping in the corridor. Jarrah's head was down over the Zombie Invasion.
And then I started giggling. Because I realized...THINGS HAVE CHANGED. No need to stand on ceremony anymore--David doesn't get fashion, he knows it, I know it: DONE. And the guy's been married to me for 11 years. No need to pretend I'm not a bossy thing who wants things just so. David knows it, and now--lord love him--Charles the Suit Guy knows it, too, and he won't make the mistake again of asking David's opinion about anything. That's not where his sale is going to get made.
I can hear them in the hall.
"She didn't like the shirt!"
"Does she like the pants?"
"I don't think so!"
Now I could just enjoy myself. With the new shirt, something was not quite right with the jacket length.
"Okay. How about the Dolce and Gabbana?"
Charles raised an eyebrow. That was a significantly more expensive suit. The way I figured it, if David was averaging one new suit every 14 years, he might as well make an investment. Charles scurried off, and returned with a beautiful D&G suit. It looked fabulous on David. He even smiled, looking at himself. He never does that. Something was wrong, though--and we needed another size.
"No problem," I said. "Let's check the computer for other Nordstroms that might be able to send it to us." For some reason, this seemed like a surprising solution to our friend Charles. But he did it, and the correct suit was located in San Francisco, to arrive within five business days, in time to be tailored for the upcoming party. As he rang us up, he said "See? I told you he was a Regular length all along." And then he winked at me. He winked at me, Readers!
That settled, we headed out onto the floor to look at shirts and ties. "White?" David asked. "No," I said. "Something with color. More contemporary." He picked up a tie with some sort of gold pattern. "I like this."
"Oh, sweetie," I said. "No. No, you don't."
Last night, the D&G arrived from San Francisco, and we had it tailored. It's perfect, fits like a glove. Makes David look even taller, if that's possible. I picked out a lavender paisley tie. David was skeptical. "You'll get used to it," I promised. Charles brought over an electric blue one to show me.
"Yes?" he said.
"Hmmm." I said.
"You can just say you don't like it."
"Oh, I will. I was just trying to figure out why."
I caught sight of myself in the mirror. I looked like a vaguely homeless freak, wearing a mismatched shirt and hoodie, pajama bottoms, hair sticking out of the pony tail in every direction, and my purse COVERED IN DIRT from having left it on the ground during an outdoor party last weekend. Yep, I looked like a high roller, alright. Hey, Big Spender.
And yet, it was because of me that this suit sale was going down. Now that I think about it--I'll bet Charles sees this a lot.
And it was certainly no surprise to David. Nope, it was pretty much like any other Friday night--me deciding what he's going to do, and he--for the most part--happily doing it.