Just a Day in My Life

Adventures in Jacket Rentals

We had our performance today: our church choir, along with a high school choir and two choirs from a local University, performed Haydn’s Theresemeisse Mass in B Flat. Sounds fancy. Actually, it was a pretty good concert, and I had a blast.

Most of the anthems and performances that our choir does are small affairs. We wear jeans and nice shirts at church, slacks and solid color shirts for community performances, that sort of thing. For this event, we needed to go all out formal. Black suits. White shirts. Bow ties. I own a shite shirt and a pair of black slacks, but I don’t own a black jacket. So last week, I realized that I needed to rent one. I called a tuxedo rental place in Vacaville.

“If I ordered a jacket today,” I asked, “would it be ready for pickup by next Saturday?”

“Why sure,” they replied to me. “Just come on in within the next half hour, because we close real soon.”

Not a problem. I saved the story I was working on and headed over to Vacaville and took myself to the tuxedo rental shop, which actually turned out to be a bridal shop that also happened to carry tuxedos. I stepped inside; there wasn’t a single tuxedo in sight. There were wedding dresses galore, though; all kinds of dresses, from sheer satiny things that looked more like slips (perhaps they were — what do I know about women’s clothing?) to something truly epic in proportions, with ribbons and veils and a train that would put Union Pacific to shame.

I was immediately approached by a woman dressed up to do customer service; she had a proper looking suit on, nice jacket, short skirt, and all, but she was barefoot. She asked if I was the guy who had called about the jacket, and I told her that I was. She smiled and took my hand. I should mention here that I do like going to look for clothes in situations like this; the women who work in these stores always flirt with me. Granted, it’s what they’re paid to do. She says, “Why, that jacket looks SO much better on you than this one which is two hundred dollars less in price,” and the guys says, “Wow, she’s hot and she thinks I’m hot so I’d better buy this $500 jacket. Probably two, just in case.” It’s salesmanship pure and simple, but, you know, sometimes a guy likes to pretend.
“What are you looking for in particular?” she asked.

“I dunno. Black. Simple. Cheap.”

She laughed took me over to a catalog. We looked through it together, and she turned to the section with business suits. “There,” she said. “How does that look?”

It was simple and it was black. “Looks good,” I said. “How much?”

“Uh…” She pondered. Turns out the price in the book was based on the assumption that you’d be renting the whole suit, and not just the top half. She did some quick calculations and quoted me a price of $75 for the jacket. Sounded good to me.

“So, do you know your measurements?” she asked me.

Uh. The last time I’d been measured for a tuxedo was for a friend’s wedding, and that was six years and thirty pounds ago. So I told her no, I didn’t.

I know that women go through mental agony whenever they have to be measured for something like this, but I need you to know that men suffer through it as well. Especially an overweight guy like myself. Especially when the woman doing the measuring is pretty and has been flrting with you in a professional manner all along. There’s a tremendous temptation, you see, to suck your gut in so that it reaches your backbone, giving you some semblance of fitness. Women know that guys never look thinner when they suck in their guts, but guys do it anyway. It’s our thing. But I knew that if I sucked in my gut, the measurements would be off, and then I’d end up standing for forty-five minutes in this concert with a jacket that was almost, but not quite, as uncomfortable as a girdle.

So I ended up letting it all hang out. Flop over my belt line.

It was humiliating.

“Wow,” the woman said after measuring me around the shoulders and chest. “Fifty-eight inches.”

I was flabbergasted. “I remember when it was forty-eight!”

She said nothing, just stared at me.

“‘Course, it’s my own damn fault,” I muttered.

She nodded, smiled, and did the rest of my measurements. I really wanted to suck in my gut.

The measurements were finalized, and I paid a deposit, smiled once more at the clerk, and left.

This was all on Saturday. On Tuesday, at about five in the evening, I got a phone call from the shop telling me that the jacket I’d ordered was only available for purchase, and not for rental. Of course, they closed at five, so I couldn’t call back until the next morning. I wasn’t going to have another chance to go in to choose another jacket, so I just told them to pick out something different for me; something cheap, black, and simple. And please have it ready by Saturday.

“It is prom season,” the woman said to me over the phone. “So we’ll need to do a special order.”

“Will it get there by Saturday?”

“Well, we’ll certainly do our best.”

They got the jacket in on Friday night, and I picked it up yesterday. It fit just fine. A bit tight around the gut, but there wasn’t much anyone could do about that. I paid, then spent an hour or so at the Middle Earth Festival.

Anyway, the concert went great. I can now say that I’ve sung in a big choir concert in a major arts venue. That’s one more item off the “to do” list that I didn’t even realize was there.