You would think I would learn. I’m just not that smart, I guess.
So, when we last left off, I had to return my made-to-measure suit because it was apparently made to measure someone else. Ardeen Reed was kind enough to take it back, but I was back at square one.
I stopped in at Jack Silver Tuxedoes in Times Square, and they had a very nice Calvin Klein tuxedo for $700. It would need modest alterations, but they would be included. Apparently I’m not an “off the rack” guy. I wasn’t quite ready to pull the trigger, so I took a card and said I would come back if interested. They couldn’t have been nicer.
The next day, I saw a Calvin Klein tuxedo on Gilt for $350. It was not exactly the one I met at Jack Silver, but close. When it came I returned to Beyond Bespoke to have it altered. But, once again, it needed so many alterations (about $350 worth) that it did not make sense. Here I was spending $700 when a brand new, bespoke tux would cost $900. Again, and I realize I dodged a bullet, Gilt was willing to take it back (for store credit, but I shop a lot on Gilt so it’ll be fine.)
And now, for the second time, I’m back at square one. I really like Beyond Bespoke, so I decided I’d just have it made there, so I booked an appointment for 2:30 today. They just called, and now I know what the “Beyond” means. They send you to his cousin across the street.
That’s right, Beyond Bespoke does not do Bespoke!
It reminds me of the time I went into a chic little men’s shop in Greenpoint called Alter. I found a pair of jeans I liked, but they did not come in lengths–they had to be taken up. I said to the clerk “This is probably a stupid question given the name of the shop, but do you Alter?” and the answer was “No”. Alter does not alter, and Beyond Bespoke is, apparently, beyond bespoke.
I’m going to make sure 1) that I’m getting what I want and 2) that the garment is not made by 9 year olds in some backwoods factory of country I am about to visit and 3) that they can do it in time. That’s my plan.
I expect no sympathy–I had to buy a new tuxedo for the cruise because I lost too much weight from the time I bought my previous one. That was in 1999, so it’s also a bit dated.
About two months ago, I saw an article about a company, Arden Reed, which operates out of a small truck. They scan you with a laser to import your exact measurements into a computer. They build your suit in China and mail it to you. If you need additional alterations, they will pay for them, but you probably don’t need them because, well, you’ve been measured by a laser.
So I made an appointment. What could go wrong?
We are going to need tuxedoes because the ship has a formal dinner about once a week, plus there is a sendoff party in Los Angeles which is also black tie. I wanted to buy kilts. George agreed, but later baulked. He thought they were too expensive, we’d stick out at the events and look like freaks, plus he didn’t want to wear brogues. What, what? Yeah, he had an issue with the footwear. I, on the other hand, thought it would be fun. I loved getting married in a kilt, and with my newly discovered ancestry (sorry lederhosen, you’ve been made redundant) I thought it would make a statement. Or ask a question. I’m not really sure. But punctuation definitely would have been involved.
I made my way onto the truck and into the hands of the two impeccably dressed young men who were manning the mobile men’s store. I was instructed to go into the booth, hang my clothes on a hook, and press the button. Red laser beams surrounded me as if I was an art thief. The machine made some impressive noises and I was done.
Clothed again I stepped out of the booth. A tape measure appeared and the handsome haberdashers surrounded me, measuring and marking down the results on their forms and pads. Wait…
If the machine just measured me, using computers and lasers and science and lights and interesting noises, why would they be taking my measurements with a device that has not changed much since 1919? It was explained to me that this was a precaution–in case the lasers could not correctly take all of my measurements. I didn’t mind, actually, but thought it was odd that they were not confirming what the computer had recorded, but rather were plotting my peaks and valleys on actual paper.
After discussing collar width, lining, material and buttons, my credit card was run and I walked squinting into the daylight with an electronic receipt on my iPhone and verbal assurances that my tux would arrive in 4 weeks. Or perhaps 6.
At the 8 week point, I emailed my phantom friends at Arden Reed, and it was explained that “During our revision process we noticed that some alterations were necessary and we are currently working on them.” I don’t really know what a revision process is, but how could it need alterations if you measured twice and cut once, and how can they alter without me physically trying on the suit. To me, and this is sight unseen, it sounds like they screwed it up. I got nervous.
A box arrived Wednesday, and I have to say that when I opened the box the tuxedo looked great. I chose a red paisley liner and narrow lapels. My anxiety abated. Until I tried it on.
The jacket seems fine, although oddly wrinkled in the upper arms. Perhaps a pressing will fix it. But it fits well and looks pretty great.
The vest is another story. I don’t usually don a vest, but since I’ll be “tuxting” at least once a week, it might be a welcome change now and then. However, this is not cut for me. I don’t know who it is cut for. The arm holes are enormous, and while I’m flattered that they assume I have a “V” shaped back, I would have to juice-up and do pull-downs at the gym for about 10 years to fill it. But only on my left side. For the right side I would have to invent a time machine and steal a shoulder pad from the set of Dynasty. Or I could just swipe one from Larry King.
Little known fact: I have no ass. None. Nothing. White boy ass. Naked, it looks like two pancakes were glued-on above my thighs. Trousers always sag in the back, and these were no exception. And while my butt is minimalist, it is not wrinkled. But the backside of these pants are. The seat looks like brains, or a colossal mass of black cellulite. I don’t know—maybe an iron will do the trick?
I take it to the tailor Tomorrow.
We leave in 55 days.
OK, I did it. George said I should just rip the Band-Aid off, so I did it on Friday. I gave my notice. To quote Agnes Gooch: I gotta find out what I’m supposed to do now!
George and I are changing our lives. Our apartment is on the market, I’ve given my notice, I told my family and arranged for the dog to be taken care of.
The first thing we are doing is to sail around the world. When we return, we are going to live at the beach house on Water Island. When we close in the Fall of 2014, well, I have no idea what we’ll do.
Not working is a scary proposition. I’ve never not worked, not since I was 12 years old and Joseph Lombardi convinced me to take over his paper route. Since then I’ve worked everywhere. Albert’s Deli, Woolworths, Davis Polk and Wardwell, Union Labor Life Insurance Company, King Administrators, The Monster, The Belvedere, The Plaza Hotel, Daniel Caterers, A Sterling Affair, The Monster (reprise), White & Case, Arthur Andersen, The Interep Radio Store, Battery Park City Parks Conservatory, Fusebox, Permanent Publishing, AEA Consulting and the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center. In between, I worked as a consultant (Children’s Television Workshop, Thomas Publishing, Lovett Productions, Leveraging Investments in Creativity, etc.), wrote a book (The Fitness Guide–Where to Workout When You’re on the Road), chaired a Community Board, wrote a serial for Island Scene magazine, adopted five dogs, learned Japanese and got married to my partner of 30 years.
So, a little time off seems earned, although it doesn’t feel that way. I feels like I’m stepping off a cliff.
Yet, going around the world should be a great way to start. I’m very excited. I look at the itinerary regularly. I keep it up on my work computer and visit it about 20 times a day. If you’re interested, here is the route. I like to say we’re going to Venice the long way:
So in 58 days we have to sell or rent out our apartment, pack for a 4 month trip, box up everything we own, store it, and send Milo to Texas. Wish us luck!