Sep. 26th, 2013

wwcitizen: (Best Zoolander)
The other day while I was shopping at this clothier, a good-looking, well-built Italian guy looked me over. I thought from the way he was looking at me – very intensely with interest in his eyes – that he was kind of hitting on me. I nodded and went on about looking through the ties, but kept an eye on him. I thought, “Oh, he’s looking at my pink paisley tie. Hmm… Wonder if he likes it.”

He kept looking at me, up and down, trying to catch my eye again, so I finally said, “Hey. How’s it going?”

He nodded, said, “Good, thanks, You?” and gave me a very nice, handsome smile, and even blushed a little – maybe cuz I spoke to him and was a bit bigger with a deep voice. Don’t know.

Just then his girlfriend, wife, significant other, or just his female friend helping him shop approached from out of nowhere and asked, “Excuse me, I know you don’t work here, but could I ask you a question?”

I said, “Sure! Shoot!”

“We’re going to a wedding. As guests; we’re not getting married. Do you think this suit is a good look for him? Does it fit?”  (yes, that was two questions, but not bothered…)

The single-breasted, 2-button suit was black with medium white pinstripes. Noticeable pinstripes, but not overpowering.  I replied, “Well, it’s interesting and looks like something you’d wear to a more formal occasion, like a wedding, sure; not for an interview.  What are you going for? Is this a black tie affair, or just a normal wedding with friends and family?”

“Normal wedding. No black tie, but do you think a black tie would go good with this?” she countered. “We’re wanting a sort of retro look.”

These simple questions and the guy’s ultimately sheepish and accepting attitude told me everything I needed to know: They needed a gay.

I got the guy to try on the jacket, which was too long overall, but fit on the shoulders just fine. I had him hug her saying, “Pretend like you like her and give her a hug.”

He gave her one of the most uncomfortable, unnatural hugs I’ve ever seen in person! All the while, both of them were looking at me for some sort of approval and no smiles.  The hug was a reality-TV-unapologetic-apology uncomfortable hug. Oh, and they never explained their relationship to one another – even after that uncomfortable hug!  It’s truly immaterial, I realize, but I observe these things and take note out of socio-psychological interest.  Maybe she wasn’t really his girlfriend at all and I made them do something they really didn’t want to do. Or maybe she HAD been his girlfriend and they were obligated to go to this wedding as a couple because they’d replied with the other as the “plus one” before they broke up. And this wedding was the last thing they were going to do together as a couple and he had needed her help to get a suit and she was the only one he trusted to make him look good. Or… Meh! Who cares? The hug just seemed really uncomfortable and unnatural.

The shirts they were looking at were too big for his neck and too long for his sleeves.  So, I found a nice white black pinstripe shirt that fit him better, a black/white Ben Sherman skinny tie that was a very fine, retro-looking criss-cross, and black braces – with clamps so that he didn’t need brace buttons sewn into his pants.  I instructed them to find a similar suit in a short size rather than regular (the guy was about 5’8”). 

I must say, the outfit looked really good. I would have worn it!  I forgot to mention black dress shoes, but I did tell the guy, “NEVER wear those braces with belt. Braces and belts serve the same purpose, so look silly worn together on the same outfit; it’s one or the other and the braces will look really much better than a belt. Plus, if you’re ‘between’ sizes as you say, braces will help you avoid alterations for now.”

They thanked me and we parted to go on about our business. The guy kept looking at me, smiling, and nodding even after they were on the other side of the area, so I’m still uncertain what his and their story was.  In the end, it’s unimportant. Plus, this exchange was just getting a tad creepy at that point.

Just then, someone else, another woman, rounded the corner and asked me whether “that shirt (pointing) went with this tie”. I asked a couple of questions, offered some suggestions, and escaped the store with just a couple of purchases.

The next day, as Matthew and I were driving home, we stopped there again because two shirts I had seen the previous day had been on my mind all day long. I had to get them.  I found about three other shirts, too, that I hoped would be there in my size. The evening before, I just had to leave quickly after spending too much time helping other people.

But, just as Matthew and I were finishing our shirt selections, a divorced mother of two approached us and pleaded, “Excuse me, I know you don’t work here, but could I ask you a question?”

She was looking for a suit for her 13-yr-old son’s picture day at school, and eventually his confirmation in the spring of 2014. It seemed that the kid hadn’t been too cooperative with his mother or helping her out at all. She, too, needed a gay.

We took her and the kid, Justin, over to the suits section he needed (42S). Her budget was around $150 – for the entire outfit: suit, shirt, tie, and alterations (which she had forgotten about). In her hand, she already had about $200 worth of clothes without a shirt and tie! 

We gingerly took them out of her grasp. Matthew said, “Honey, I’ll go get a cart for our stuff; you go and do like you do. Help these people.”  He looked at her and said, “He’s really good; listen to him!”

I started showing her some suits – on her son – and gave them both lots of suggestions about fabric, designers, wear, clothing etiquette, and style. In the end, the entire outfit we picked for her was – tops - $125, leaving her with a $10 pants cuff (so they can let them out if he grows in the next year or two) to organize with her local dry cleaners. His new outfit was still under her budget and they could get dinner at a diner together!  Very happy all around. It was a smart, solid medium gray suit, white dress shirt (you can NEVER have enough white dress shirts!), and a gray/white/purple striped Ben Sherman tie.  The kid likes purple a LOT.

She thanked us so heartily and gave me a 10% coupon she had in her purse. She insisted she had another one in her car (her son went out to get it) and left us looking like a huge weight had been lifted off her shoulders.  The kid seemed very excited about his clothes, too, which was a huge change from when we first met him.

Matthew and I returned to the tie area and were starting to go to the home goods section, when another woman approached me and asked about her husband’s shirt size. Her husband wasn’t with her. UGH!!  I said, “Men’s clothes are complicated, huh?” 

I helped her and gave her some suggestions.  She nodded impishly and shrugged her shoulders, “Yes! I didn’t know where to start and you really helped!” 

I said, “Glad to help! Bring your husband next time, so you can make sure you get the right stuff for him.”

Then I told Matthew we HAD to leave that area. Otherwise, we would have been spending our entire evening helping clueless shoppers!!  We went over to the home goods section and had some fun with stuff and checked out. When I used the lady’s coupon, the discount came up for about $4.50 – the price of a nice cup of Starbucks!  Not all the things I had picked out were part of the discount that the coupon covered. Nonetheless, it was a sweet gesture and every bit of savings helps, right?

Matthew and I did our good deeds for the week. He also suggested that the next time I plan to go to that store that I bring my tape measure. Tee hee!

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Stephen Lambeth

May 2017

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