My son’s wedding was out of town, and I am proud to say that I brought along two dress shirts. The first was my favorite, a light blue patterned shirt. The second was a nice white shirt with light blue lines in a plaid pattern. Both were excellent shirts and I was happy that I remembered to pack not one, but two shirts.
That Sunday, the morning of the wedding, I showed them to Lauren. I thought that she would be pleased that I presented her options. It was an engineering thing to do.
“Is this to wear to breakfast?” Lauren asked.
“No,” I responded, a little perplexed. “It’s for the wedding.” The ceremony was later that afternoon.
“You’re kidding, right?” Lauren asked.
It turned out that while I thoughtfully provided a choice of two excellent dress shirts, neither one remotely matched the rest of the ensemble. My dark suit was OK, but the clincher was the lime green tie. All the men wore lime green ties that had been selected especially for the wedding. It didn’t occur to me that both dress shirts didn’t match a lime green tie. This may be because I have no sense of matching clothes to begin with.
Lauren was both shocked and incredulous because she had spent an enormous amount of time and energy to help with planning the wedding. It was a complex event, and of all the things to worry about, dressing me was not on the list. That was one of three thousand details that she thought could be safely delegated. To me.
We had a very brief discussion. Lauren said: “You have to get a white shirt. Go. Now.”
Getting a white shirt at our location in New Jersey on a Sunday morning was of concern. Few stores that had white dress shirts were open. Unfortunately northern New Jersey is still subject to Blue Laws, which stipulate no sales of liquor or dress shirts on Sunday mornings. The story might have ended (badly) at this point, but modern technology came to the rescue. Using smart phones and search engines, I was able to find a Target that was close enough to our hotel and open early enough. I used the car GPS to track an ideal route through Secaucus. Target stores are not known for men’s clothing, but they advertise that they sell everything and I didn’t have many options.
To get to the store, I mapped a route south along the Hudson River. A fringe benefit of my fashion malfeasance was getting to drive around the old and new infrastructure. In recent decades, the shore at the base of the Palisades cliffs has been transformed from an industrial landscape to burgeoning upscale residential areas.
The new infrastructure is well built but the transformation seems uneasy. Vestiges of the old are mashed together with the new, and the new at times seems plopped into position – for example, condo towers on slopes that ignore the cliffside terrain. The GPS took me south along the river shoreline, but after a few miles it was time to climb the cliff. There are a few roads that ascend, on steep switchbacks peppered by new townhomes that hug the slopes.
Once on top, I travelled inland, and the upscale areas faded to more hardscrabble terrain. After a few more minutes I made it to a zone of shopping plazas with giant parking lots. Like a nucleus inside a massive amoeba, I found the Target. The store was similar to others in the chain. It had a lot of everything, but except for a large assortment of underwear it did not have much of a men’s department.
But I was in luck. Tucked in the back were some dress shirt remnants. Fortunately there was one white shirt left in my size (sort of). It was comprised of an interesting fabric, one percent cotton and 99 percent synthetic mystery fiber.
I returned to the hotel with plenty of time to spare. The wedding was spectacular, a great evening. We sang and danced all night long. About halfway through the dancing, I noticed that my white shirt was not breathing so well. The synthetic mystery fabric was not adept at wicking moisture. So I sweated and scratched the rest of the night, in my itchy white shirt. No one was very sympathetic to my plight, but at least I wore matching clothes.