Saturday, August 17th, 2019

All this for a tux


Tonight is the RightWisconsin 2014 Right Women awards dinner. As a contributor to the website, my wife and I are attending the black tie optional affair at the Pfister Hotel. I’ll post the obligatory “selfie” later.

Did I mention that it’s black tie? I haven’t worn a tuxedo in 15 years. Not that I mind dressing up. The occasion just hasn’t arisen.

Since it will be probably another 15 years before I have to wear another tux, the Lovely Doreen and I decided to rent one for the occasion. Of course, the tuxedo market has changed a bit since we planned what tuxes my wedding party was going to wear. Back then I walked into Desmonds, pointed at a dummy and said, “That’ll do.” Now, no Desmonds chain, and apparently the dummies are running the stores.

Last week at the Men’s Wearhouse on Bluemound Road in Brookfield, we told someone at the door we were interested in renting a tux. We were waived in the general direction of the tuxedo rental part of the store and eventually given to Anthony. We explained that we wanted to rent a tux for a black tie dinner, it wasn’t for a wedding and I was not part of some wedding party.

Well, what kind of black tie dinner? I quickly explained that it was dinner to honor the governor’s wife, that the lieutenant governor will be there, and that there will be a number of other important people there.

Anthony asked me how I knew all those people, and I responded, “I’m a writer.” That’s my usual way of dropping the subject but this time it didn’t work. Anthony told us that he knew someone who ran against Lt Governor Rebecca Kleefisch and actually got more votes than her but dropped out of the race.

A little confused, I told him that never happened, and then tried to change the subject back to the tux. No, Anthony insisted, he was right, and he was sure his friend had run against her, got more votes, and then withdrew from the race. “I’m sorry, but that’s not right,” I replied.

My wife could sense my irritation at this point and we were on the verge of walking out when Evelyn (and I apologize if I have the spelling wrong) interceded. She quickly got the conversation back to the task at hand and took over the sale.

Meanwhile, Anthony announced he was going to Google the election to look up his friend’s information and show us he was right. Yes, irritating the customer was that important to him.

We should have taken that as a sign that we were in the wrong place, but Doreen and I ignored him and dealt with Evelyn. She was very professional, courteous and helpful. I did notice that she and Anthony had a few words while I was trying things on, presumably about the sale.

But soon we had a very nice tux ordered, all black with a black vest with a diamond pattern, certainly suitable for the occasion. Once I got over the sticker shock (it has been fifteen years) we signed the order, paid the deposit, and away we went.

Last night we returned to pick up the tux. After we paid for it we were directed back to the tuxedo area. Yep, I never should have paid first, but there you are.

Evelyn was not there but someone else was and I handed the ticket to her rather than deal with Anthony again. I went into the changing room only to see a striped jacket. Not even a nice striped jacket. But I thought maybe Evelyn and Doreen had made some change while I wasn’t paying attention last week. I got dressed and came back to the customer service desk (a complete misnomer). Doreen and I immediately started talking about how it was the wrong jacket.

When Anthony and another guy asked how we liked the tux, we told the guy actually sitting at the desk that the jacket was wrong. Anthony jokingly said, “Don’t tell him anything. He doesn’t know what’s going on.”

I was less than pleased that a) my problem was a source of amusement and, b) apparently someone at the customer service desk should not be sitting there.

The clerk asked when the occasion is. I told her that it is tomorrow night (tonight). She asked what kind of occasion it was. I was going to explain but, given the experience of last week, Doreen interrupted and said it was a black tie dinner. The young man at the counter kept asking when George (apparently the supervisor) was coming back. The young lady tried to find another jacket.

So we waited. They found another jacket that didn’t fit the same and had a two-tone lapel. By then George had arrived and he was talking about possibly finding another jacket from the retail side of the store. Really, why should I care where you find it?

I tried to inarticulately explain that I really did not care for the lapel and George started insisting that I meant that I wanted a suit. I think I said, no, I just want a plain lapel. George raised his voice and told me then that I wanted a suit and not a tuxedo.

My wife, the Lovely Doreen, did not like his tone, the condescension or the raised voice, and said in a raised voice, “We know the difference between a suit and a tux.”

Given my age and gray hair, I would hardly believe this was in question. Apparently, it was, and George was quite upset that my wife would point this out. He yelled back at my wife asking what he said was wrong and telling her she didn’t have to get mad at him. She pointed out that his tone was completely inappropriate, which he denied. This went back and forth before an uneasy very unspoken truce with absolutely no apology from George.

Did I mention that I really needed to pick up the tux? And that’s the rotten part of this equation. I would have loved to have walked out of there. I would have loved to have told George to go play in traffic on Bluemound Road. I even would have loved to have told them they had two choices: call every store in southeastern Wisconsin until they found the right jacket in my size or lose my sale. But I needed the damn tux.

So I finally was able to explain to George what I meant. Then it was back to the dressing room where, again, he tried to convince me that what I really wanted was a suit. Actually, what I really wanted to do was the Joe Pesci ballpoint pen special, but instead I remained calmly persistent until I finally, after two hours, got a tuxedo.

My wife went outside to cool off while we wrapped things up. Bruce tried to get me to promise that I would return the tux to the same store because they took it from the retail side. By then I was completely noncommittal to their convenience.

Come Saturday morning when it’s time to return the tux, we’ll see where fortune takes me. Perhaps it will be to the store that actually has the jacket I ordered.

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