In the wise words of Barney Stinson, it is time to “suit up.” With February whipping by like a winged cherub shooting arrows of love, our April leave date looms large. Each day, as I sit in ConGen, trying to mentally process the intricacies of non-immigration law practice, my mind often wanders to what needs to be done here and now to get us ready to go. While the front half of my flower and vine covered notebook is filled with refusal codes, ineligibilities and INA references, the back pages are devoted to lists that fall under headings such as “Consumables Shipment,” “Medical Kit” “Shell Shopping” and “Thad Shopping.”
One of the top priorities falling under the “Thad Shopping” column was suits. Last spring, when he got his invitation to join the 161st A-100 class at FSI, we were only given a few weeks of notice. We were able to make a quick run to the suit store and get him two full suits, which got him through the summer fine, but he’ll need more now that he is facing the world of business-ware on a daily basis. (Language training is much more casual at FSI, meaning a collared shirt is sufficient. Unless he has business to conduct in DC, he doesn’t need to wear the full ensemble each day.)
Thad is not a shopper. And when he does shop, he is not a “try-er on-er.” He goes through the pile of shirts, chooses the color that most closely resembles everything else in his closet and buys it. (Or waits on a bench outside the store while I buy it.) This means, suit shopping, that requires not only a visit to the dressing room, but also consultations with the seamstress, is not his idea of a fun Saturday. But, when Men’s Warehouse is having their “Buy One, Get One Free” sale, there is no getting around it. It is time to go suit shopping.
So Saturday, after a lazy morning around the house, we headed out with nervous glances at a gray sky that seemed to be threatening snow. We had two choices of stores- the one that is just a couple of miles up the road by bus, or the one across the river in the District just a block away from the Metro station. We went with the latter. So did half of northern Virginia.
Men’s Warehouse was a warehouse of men on Saturday afternoon. Their semi-annual suit sale drew in the masses, who like us, feel a little ill at the price tags dangling from the sleeves of name brand suits. Planning ahead, we wrote down the sizes of the suits he already has and we were able to get a good start on suit selection before a salesman made it our way. With a couple outfits in hand that he picked out and a couple more that I really liked, it was off to the back of the store, where the fitting rooms had just a bit of locker room whiff to them. (Thad says suits aren’t outfits. I am not sure why. It is a full ensemble that matches. That sounds like an outfit to me.)
Once we had narrowed it down to a pretty (now he’ll probably never wear it) gray suit and one with an olive hue to it, it was time for things to get personal with the alterations department. Chalk marks were made, pins stuck in and measurements taken.
With Thad changing back into his preferred t-shirt and jeans, I met with the “stylist.” (This is a real job at Men’s Warehouse! They have a woman who takes the suits you choose, and then displays them with a variety of shirts and ties to demonstrate which color combinations work best. While I could easily do this on my own, I applaud the company for their ingenious gimmick. I am sure they have sold countless shirts and ties through this process than they would have if they just let men wander the aisles and try to fend for themselves.) Since we were in the dress shirt and tie market anyway though, the stylist and I worked through several combinations. By the time Thad joined us, I had the selections narrowed down and just needed his approval. (It doesn’t matter how awesome I think it looks. If he hates it, there is no point in bringing it home.)
Two suits, six dress shirts, two ties and a hefty swipe of the debit card later, we found ourselves back out on the sidewalk, no longer glancing at a gray sky threatening snow, but rather standing in the flakes themselves as they came swirling violently around us.
Monday, when I head into my fourth week of consular training, as I flip from the data-filled pages of the front of my spiral notebook to the list-filled ones at the back, I will be pulling out my lovely purple ballpoint and crossing off the first of many lines in many lists- suits. That’s one “to-do” item checked off!
Next up? I’ve got no idea! Possibility just more additions to the already pending lists.