There's a funny story in Spouse's family about the fiftieth anniversary photos that his parents took shortly before his dad's death. My mom-in-law found a really lovely suit on clearance at Dillards - paid pennies for it - but it was a rather specific shade of mauve, and none of Granddaddy's ties cut the mustard (or, well, mauve - you get my drift). She ended up finding one tie that would work - at Neiman's, and it was the work product of a rather high-end designer (can't remember which one), so at the end of the day his tie ended up costing exponentially more than her entire ensemble. He thought that this was fabulous. When the pictures arrived, and people would ooh and aah over the overall composition, he would find a way to steer the conversation to the tie. And by "steer," I mean he would hit them over the head with a, "Let me tell you the funny story behind these pictures. MY TIE COST MORE THAN HER SUIT."
(He was well-known within the family for his subtle conversation shifts - like the time at dinner when, after a half-hour of discussion of politics and other current events, he blurted out, "I SAW A BABY DEER ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD TODAY, AND IT WAS THE SIZE OF A SMALL DOG." Apropos of absolutely nothing. My best guess is that he had been waiting for the conversation to naturally steer itself to deer, or dogs, or things that are smaller than they usually tend to be, but we did not provide him with an opening, SO HE REACHED OUT WITH BOTH HANDS AND TORE ONE INTO THE FABRIC OF THE SPACE-TIME CONTINUUM.
God, I miss that man.)
My baby brother-in-law is getting married in a few weeks. Okay, he's not a BABY baby (certainly not in the sense of being small dog-sized); he's now in his thirties, but when Spouse and I got together, he was barely a teenager, and he was still in high school at our wedding, so I reserve the right to continue to think of him as a baby for awhile and also to be a little freaked out about the concept of my children being in his wedding, and not just as ring bearers but as junior groomsmen.
As the respective youngest children in Irish families of four and five siblings, Uncle P and "Almost Aunt M" are insistent on including all of their collective nieces and nephews in the wedding, which will translate into four junior bridesmaids and five junior groomsmen. (I believe that they dispensed with the concept of flower girl and ring bearer because, given the numbers and age ranges involved, it was best to just put everyone on equal footing. See, they are not totally crazy. Emphasis on "not totally".) Being a junior groomsman is a totally awesome concept, because:
It's WAY cooler than being a ring bearer.
You get put up, along with your parents, in a hotel room in downtown Dallas, and you get to go to something called a rehearsal dinner. (They have been to these before; they just don't remember.) And said rehearsal dinner is being held at a fabled home-cooking restaurant called Celebration that used to have a counterpart in Fort Worth, and it was their dad's favorite restaurant in college because you could turn your TCU ticket stubs in for discounts and free food, and everything was served family style, and whatever entree you started out with, you could get seconds of any item at that price point or below, so Spouse would start with chicken fried steak or pot roast, and then move on to spaghetti and meatballs, and keep going until he was, quite literally, stuffed. They have heard the stories, and now they expect to see a real-time reenactment. (The Fort Worth Celebration was still in business when we got married. I have seen Spouse at Celebration. It ain't pretty. But they aren't expecting, or wanting, pretty, so we're good.)
The rehearsal dinner is like a mini-mixer between you and your new "sort-of cousins." (The Big Kid is obsessed with cousins, on account of how he has exactly one first cousin, and B doesn't completely count because he is a cousin-by-marriage and joined the family as a young adult. So Big Kid is insistent that my cousin's children are much closer cousins to him than they actually are and actively seeks out opportunities to see them, and now he is equally insistent that his uncle's wife's nieces and nephews have to count as his cousins somehow.)
Most importantly, you get to dress up. Dress code is a dark suit, white shirt and gold tie. Interestingly, this is deemed to be MUCH COOLER than being made to wear a tux. Somehow, the dark suit/straight tie thing seems infinitely more grown-up. Big Kid is particularly excited, because he recently outgrew his navy blazer and announced that, from now one, he's gonna suit up exclusively. As of this weekend, he's now one suit into the game.
Where did we find said suits? At K&G, home of the Steve Harvey Junior Collection, which was just fine with the Big Kid, whose tastes in suits definitely lean in the "African-American stand-up comic" direction, veering dangerously close to "early nineties Arsenio Hall extreme shoulder pads and Cross Colors colors" territory. He was particularly fond of one black/white pinstriped number, which he wanted to pair with a dark shirt and monochromatic tie, shoes with spats and a fedora. I patiently explained to him that his uncle was getting married in a Catholic church in central Dallas, not in a Tyler Perry movie or in a Harlem jazz club circa eighty years ago. I also pointed out to him that, with his Irish coloring and overall level of geekiness, said suit made him look about as hip as Anthony Michael Hall in that scene in "Weird Science" when they crash the blues bar. Reference sailed over his head. At this point, he started doing a weird little shuffling dance that reminded me, for all the world, of Morris Day. So I offered him a mirror and a shout-out: "JESSE! Now, now, Jerome."
Whoosh! Another cultural reference, cleared for takeoff.
We settled on a Calvin Klein number that - glory of glories - also came in the Little Kid's size. Both kids found belts, Little Kid got shoes, and Mom made a mental list of items remaining to be procured (socks, new dress shoes for Big Kid, white shirts for both - the bride and groom are providing the ties).
At this point, Spouse decided that he also needed a new suit for the occasion, so a second shopping list was prepared. And then I started thinking about what to wear, and I decided that (given the lateness of the hour of the wedding) the black halter dress that I purchased at the holidays and only wore once would be an acceptable option, particularly if I put a colored wrap with it, and - hey, there, hi, there, ho, there - isn't that a turquoise fringed wrap I see peeking out of that moving box? DONE. Shoes: check. Jewelry: check. Now, if only I had a clutch that would tie in the turquoise wrap, a little bit of black from the dress and the gold in the jewelry (and in my guys' wedding ties). Pulled up Etsy and found a couple that would do the trick - none of them over $35. Finally settled on this one, from Tamra's Bags:
As I am charging the thing to PayPal, I make a point of reminding Spouse that, once again, the McGlinchey men have outdistanced the McGlinchey women by a mile in the "highest-priced special occasion wardrobe" competition. And I think with fondness of my father-in-law and that ridiculously expensive pinkish-purple tie.