Monday, January 2, 2012

2012: Black Tie, Robbery, and Opera Pumps

A Happy New Year to all.  I was honored to receive your well-wishes and blessings, and I want the same for all of you.  Ringing in the new year is always a fun party, regardless of what is happening.  Even if you are hosting nobody and attending nothing, there is no point in not sprucing up one's clothing assembly a bit.  I never, NEVER buy into the over-priced blow-outs at restaurants, etc., and generally opt for the black-tie parties.  Some ill-timed remodeling required a dinner party elsewhere, and while the entertainment had some trouble staying sober enough to hit the right harmonies, the band was still tight.  I was happy to wear the Dr. Frankenshirt creation I had whipped together earlier in the year:

I like that the pattern is visible through the bib.  I also tend to wear shirt studs with a peak-lapel dinner jacket, and not with the American notched style.  I like the casual easiness of toned-down evening wear.  Black tie should be cooled off and approachable, and not the revved-up once-in-ten-years burden that it has become.  

I called Giuseppe, and asked where he got his cummerbund.  "Keezer's" he said, so I picked up a new black one... for $7.  If you live in or near Boston, you really should go in there to experience it... I picked up several nice silk ties for under $15.  It's a unique and great experience, and you feel like you're looting a formal shop in post-apocalyptic Russia.  The tie in the photo above is 100% silk, square-ended, and delightfully unlined, making it easy to tie and easier to wear, and they asked $9 for it new.

A pair of Henry Maxwell opera pumps* (refitted by John Lobb... not a collaboration) held well and kept me vertical on the wooden floor of the dance hall off of the main dining room.  Don't listen to the purists... these are fine shoes for black tie.  Come to think of it, don't listen to the purists on anything.

By the time Mrs. and I took the floor, "Fly Me To The Moon" was being belted out by an over-scotched crooner, and an equally gin-soaked bassist, trying their hardest to hit the right notes, which they mostly did.  At any party, don't be too cool for the little plastic hats either... wear them.

I'm very often confused for someone who cares deeply about wine... while I enjoy it, I'm not precious at all about it, so please stop insisting that I get a new wine glass for every different bottle served with the various courses. Besides, I enjoy making the uppity climbers scoff by rinsing out my glass with drinking water before switching from red to white, gulping down the pinot-rinse before the white is poured.  Great-Uncle Max used to tell barmen who offered him a new glass for each drink (usually Scotch) "No, I'll keep this one... I'm just now getting to know the ice."

Purple/blue socks...  the left one now smells of either XO or VSOP.

An odd little chair stuffed into the back corner of the dressing room... likely donated.  I'd like to think that someone absconded with it during their college years and finally dumped it off decades later, as I did with many of my college chairs.

As the sun rose over Boston on the first day of 2012, I was the first one up... the first one in the entire city, it seemed.  A cool (not cold) cloudless day greeted us, and we made our way back home for the usual New Years Day coffee (hangover's brunch) with friends and neighbors: a chance to gather together with strong coffee or tea, a solid breakfast, and an opportunity to retell the stories from the night before.  I generally keep my wits about me on New Years Eve, because a very young boy will wake me at 6am regardless of the quantities from the night before.

A new striped bow tie also from Keezer's. $12.

Elegant and fun black tie NYE parties don't have to be expensive at all... in fact, the expensive ones nearly always suck.  Horribly.  My favorite NYE is still the evening I spent with Mrs. (before we were married) at a burger joint in Boston after we got tired of the party we had waded through for several hours.  

A close friend in Seattle sent me this story:

An elegantly dressed man showed up in a Fairfax Denny's early New Year's Day, but he wasn't just there for the pancakes. Police say the suspect, wearing either a gray suit or tuxedo, held up the restaurant manager at gun point, and escaped with a wad of cash. The incident happened at the Denny's location at 10473 Fairfax Boulevard, at 6:30 a.m. on Sunday.  According to police, the suspect approached the 25-year-old restaurant manager holding a handgun.  The manager opened up the safe and handed over an undisclosed amount of money.  Nobody was injured. Police said the suspect is a 6'1" tall white male, approximately 50 years old, possibly wearing a gray wig.  Police said his handgun is black. Anyone with information on the crime has been asked to contact City of Fairfax Police at (703) 385-7924.

Strange that the gun was black, because I've always thought that a chrome Walther PPK goes best with black tie.

Happy 2012.

*Some call them court shoes.  My "court shoes" are white, have non-marking soles, and are festering in a Back Bay locker.


  1. "...while I enjoy it, I'm not precious at all about it..."

    Indeed. That's the right approach.

  2. A very happy new year to you and your family. This entry was the usual interesting but atypical unrelated array that hits to all fields (black tie, don't go to hotel events, guns, stolen chairs, opera shoes, etc.) Looking forward to more of the same in 2012. So glad that you enjoyed your black tie event. Not all hotel type events are overpriced blowouts and at these events there is usually entertainment that is not gin-soaked or over-scotched. So sad to hear the you had to put up with this. Hope that you danced the night away in that great shirt anyway.

  3. *Anon: This was at a city club and not a hotel. I regret that my writing came across as having disliked the drunk band... I was happy for them enjoying themselves, and they were pretty good. Sometimes it's comforting to know everybody in the building. Happy New Year to you and I'll try to keep more of the usual unreadable ramblings coming.

  4. Spent a most delightfful three nights betwixt Christmas and NYE in your charming city, well taken care of by the boys and gals at the Four Seasons where I get to use my firm's dirt-cheap corporate rate (it's the xtras that kill you, particularly if your spouse is a mad minibar raider after an evening out). Had a lovely time revisiting out haunts (MFA/Otis House/BHHB) . Back at Darlington when the funny business started, happily snoring away in bed with my belobed Pompey snuggled up against me long before the clock struck twelve. I did pull out me velvet slippers for drinking eggnog the next morning, though...

  5. Despite dressing up, I was the only one who did so. As I've said earlier on Kyoto Maiko, I coach speech and interview for the Academic Decathlon team at my high school (which I was active on in my own school days), and the head coach, and my former chemistry teacher, has thrown an AcDec New Year's Eve shindig for 16 years where everyone who has ever been involved in the program as student or as coach can come. Given that the current crop of students are there, zero alcohol is allowed.

    I spent the night playing Apples to Apples and Jenga with the students, and even making random in-jokes with two of the students who, like myself, turned out to be fans of the new version of My Little Pony... Which, honestly, deserves a very long explanation I won't go into here.

    The point of my ramblings as that alcohol was not necessary for the evening... and honestly, neither was my bow tie.

  6. Happy New Year and thanks for a great 2012 kick-off post.
    Any one who says pumps aren't for Black Tie is not a "purist" but a putz. I would have worn mine if they weren't just a little too tight and if dancing had not been a major part of the evening.

  7. Very nice, YWP. I'm digging the socks AND the new tie. I'm sure you two had a wonderful time. We did black-tie last year; this year it was jeans and sweaters around the bonfire. But, we were with good company and sipping champagne, which made for a great eventing. And, yes, morning does come far too early with little ones in the house, so our crazy NYE bashes are behind us. Happy New Year!

  8. YWP and JMW , The late nights return with the moving out of the last of the "little ones."

  9. When we do the black tie party I always wear the little plastic hats, and sometimes the mask.

    Happy 2012!


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