Life Lesson #2: Pack the Comfy Clothes

July 11, 2010

When they dress you like an usher, they dress you like this: rented suite, rented pants, rented socks, rented shoes. They put you in a shirt that poofs at the sleeves and a jacket that swallows you whole, like your dad’s used to. And the shoes—Oh! The shoes!—they are Barbie shoes. Plastic. Shiny. They slice the tops of your feet and clap around like tap shoes.

But you comply—you agree to wear the clothes, the shoes—because this isn’t about you. This is about your friend: her wedding, her marriage, and all the photos you’ll be in that will look so nice in twelve years.

When you pick up your suite from Men’s warehouse, the suite guy knows you. He asks your name but remembers your face. You’ve been there a lot lately: lots of weddings, lots of suites. When he hangs your suite in the dressing room, he says: “you know the drill.”

You put on the suite and hate it. It’s too big, too starched, too fancy.
“How’s it look?” Suite guy asks.
“Great,” you say, “Really good,”
You just want to get out of there.
“Looks like the sleeves could be longer,” suite guys says, and you say:
“Looks like you’re right,”
He takes the sleeves out a bit. Now you really look like you’re wearing your Dad’s jacket. You hate it even more.
“How’s that?” he asks
“Great,” you say, “Really good.”
And the suite guy smiles and thinks about how awesome he is at suites, how it’s so easy after all these years, how happy you are with his work.

But he doesn’t know that tomorrow there will be another set of clothes in your bag: a pair of fading, skinny blue jeans, a shirt you found at the thrift store that fits so well, and slip-on tennis shoes made for a human.

He doesn’t know that after the ceremony—after the pictures—you will quietly slip back into the dressing room and carefully remove the shirt that poofs, the pants that swish, and the shoes that tap. You’ll fold them, button them, and slide them perfectly back into the black bag they came in.

Then you’ll pull on your jeans, you’ll button up your shirt, you’ll slide on your tennis shoes and let out a sigh. You’ll stand there in the empty dressing room for a minute, maybe two, listening to the air conditioner, just feeling your clothes on your skin. Then you’ll walk back out to the party, shake some hands, and pretend that none of it ever happened.

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