The Duke of Windsor and the Mischievous Elves are Probably Dining without Me

Originally posted on September 30, 2015. This was the most popular entry on the old blog, which may be a sad indication of its quality. 


Two years ago I was honored to be the best man in my friends’ wedding. Luckily for me the only sartorial request they made was that I wear a black lounge suit and a white tie, which seemed simple enough. I detest tuxedos — the only time that they should be worn is when singing at The Sands or at dinner with the Duke of Windsor.

I would happily wear a suit everyday of my life if my job called for it, and go full white tie — topper and tails — when required, but I always felt that there was something a little tacky in the tux’. I can’t help but think that the only shiny things a person should wear are shoes, and that the only thing that should be clipped on is a tie-clip. So while I really would have been happy to wear a tuxedo on the occasion, I was all the happier for not having to.

I borrowed a black suit from my father, made a speech, lawlessly (but joyfully) signed a ketubah and saw my friends off to a lifetime of happiness.

Then came a busy two years in which I had many strange adventures and accomplished many things, but I also failed at a few — namely returning my father’s black suit which I had (like any good suit-borrower) had dry cleaned. Now and again, when I saw my parents, I would tell them that I would bring the suit back the next time I saw them.

A few weeks ago I had to go to a funeral and felt lucky that I still had the suit. I put on the trousers and was a little surprised that they had a black strip going down them like a military dress uniform, but were that same color as the pants. Then I put on the jacket and marveled at the tacky velvet collar. My father wouldn’t have something like that. For a few seconds I was secluded in a castle of denial. I reached into the coat pocket and found the most offensive thing of all — a black, clip-on bow tie. My castle of denial collapsed in a sinkhole of despair. I had two other suits, one at the tailor, one at the dry-cleaner. There was no way out of it. I put on a proper black straight tie and I attended the funeral with the coat folded up under my arm so nobody would see what I was wearing* but it would at least look like I had the proper clothes

The dark and mischievous elves of the dry cleaner offered up a changeling.** I can’t imagine any other explanation. When I asked my dry-cleaner about what happened he said that no one had come back with the suit — this is no surprise since the suit is nicer than the tux’.*** My tailor also reminded me that if talked to him two days or two weeks later, he would have been able to help me. But there was no telling where my suit was after so long. The elves had won and I was stuck with the changeling.

What does a man do with a notched (not even peaked) lapelled velvet-collared abomination? I tried giving it to my father who actually thinks that this story is funny, but he doesn’t want it. So I did what any decently attired amatur philolgist would do. I bought a proper bow-tie for it (I wouldn’t suffer to have the clip-on in the house), and I’ve been shopping around for pleated shirts. Certainly, I don’t have occasion to wear black tie, but something may come up. There must be some group of people attending black-tie events. And now that I’ve thought about it I’m a little miffed that I never get invited. I will keep hoping. Maybe there will be an opera premiere, or a charity ball, or maybe I’ll be in another wedding.

If anything comes up, let me know.


*did I absentmindedly put the tux jacket on before I left? Yes I did. And let me tell you, gentle reader, that it is indeed a great relief knowing that whatever terrible social faux pas you may make in future your greatest will always be in the past. And it is an even greater relief that after you’re seen at a funeral in black tie people will still be friends with you.

**This is just one reason to not bring your baby to the dry cleaner. There are others.

***This is not an expression of my anti-tuxedo prejudice: it was a nice suit and the tuxedo is a little chintzy

Tags: The Sands, My Parents, Clip-On Ties