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FLASHBACK ARTICLE FROM OCTOBER 2009
Even if you typically go commando, I implore you to rethink your foundation garment options and choices. You may never fall victim to Murphy’s law, but if you, as I did, find yourself on the less than desirable end of fate, you will be glad your “drawers are black.” If the devil is truly in the details, then all details are worthy of serious attention, no matter how small.
Many moons (remember that reference) ago, I got lucky, in a not so enviable fashion, because I had recently switched from tighty whiteys to darker briefs. A minor point but important to this story. Before the unfolding of the events and the circumstances of which I am about to speak, I had given little if any thought to such details, other than “tag in the back, legs through the big holes.” My apologies to those dining while reading.
The switch was purely happenstance as my source for such items was out of the standard color I had worn for at least 30 years. I opted for the same comfortable, reliable brand but in the only available hues; blue, black, maroon. You know, the variety pack.
With my freshly dry cleaned black suit, polished black shoes, pressed and starched white shirt, coordinated tie, socks and belt in the garment bag, I was prepared, from a wardrobe perspective, to perform at the scheduled wedding. At least I though so. Please note that I purposefully opted for black briefs given the formal nature of the event.
My approved strike uniform was khaki polo shorts and a dark company polo. I arrived with ample time to complete strike and set up of all the necessary gear, perform a site and sound check, and refresh my appearance before getting into what some might consider the “monkey-suit.” Conversely, I enjoy wearing a nice suit, but if truth be told, I should have been born in the early 1900s and a member of the rat pack. Frank, Dean, Sammy, and Rocky. Ahhh…
Sorry, I’m back now.
Unfortunately, the profit of some venues to place quantity before quality rendered my timely arrival premature. Despite specific and precise contractual terms that governed such matters, I had but two options. One was to declare the contract breached and return to base. This would, however, unnecessarily and negatively impact my clients’ celebration, risk my reputation with both the popular venue and any guests that might attend, and prove, unequivocally, that I am a complete jerk. I couldn’t have that kind of proof, especially outside of internet forum environments, just lying around, so I implemented option two.
I was forced to strike into an adjacent, less convenient, room and hope that the “already into overtime” event ended soon enough to allow adequate time for setting up, check, and wardrobe change. With less than 60 minutes to lift off, the visibly stressed room captain appeared and unapologetically informed me that I could begin setting up in 15 minutes but to “hurry up and be ready.”
With every fiber of restraint, I could muster, and I have very few, I thanked him for the warning while secretly placing dozens of imaginary sharp, long, barbed pins in my pretend room captain voodoo doll. I used the quarter-hour at hand to prepare for and mentally walk through the hurried, forced, and atypical set-up circumstances.
Knowing I would need at least 30-40 minutes to properly set up the equipment and perform a rudimentary site and sound check, I came to the brilliant conclusion that I could save some time by changing into my suit pants and dress shoes to allow more time to freshen up and get into my shirt and to tie my tie. Seemed logical, given the now seriously compressed time limits.
Unfortunately, I failed to account for the unexpected physical requirements/contortions that a rushed set-up might demand. While carrying a speaker with one hand and an amp case in the other, both tasks better “handled” individually standards with two hands, I executed, what would be considered by Olympic, a perfect stage straddle. Never before and not since have I, or anyone for that matter, ever wished that I was wearing a skirt. Suit pants, dress shoes, and certain body parts are not designed for such maneuvers.
My first auditory offering of the evening was a clear and unmistakable seam separating RIP. Now, before you burn this paper, I promise not to describe the scene any more than to say the open seam in the seat of my suit pants was repairable, but not at that moment, nor properly with that amount of time, in that venue , far from base.
The new trouser vent was a surprisingly clean tear and would probably not show while wearing my coat. Phew. Plus I had the added benefit of having only black cotton visible through the said portal and I had no intention of participating in any limbo contests or bowing to the back wall.
I managed to complete the remaining set-up without incident or knowingly revealing my southern exposure to the venue staff. With the sound check complete and event materials in place, I raced, more like shuffled to my vehicle to retrieve my suit coat, shirt, etc. and begin my wardrobe change with 10 minutes and counting, guests arriving, and the venue staff tightening up the room.
As I quickly pulled the garment bag from my vehicle, a scene reminiscent of My Cousin Vinny, I watched my coat glide, slow motion style, into a nearby puddle of garbage bag drippings, discarded kitchen grease, and other liquids best left unidentified. Now I have performed many events without a suit coat, but this horrific development would pose a new problem given the moon roof near my back pockets.
Despite having become good friends with these clients, I was sure they had no desire to have their guests get to know me that well. With the remaining time, I carefully carried the unaffected clothes into the dressing room to assess (sense a theme here?) my options.
Using black duct tape and applying some unknown and dormant tailoring skills, I affected the best possible repair, fully aware that the duct tape could give way at any moment, and it did, within 5 minutes of beginning the reception.
I plowed through knowledge of the potential for em-bare-ass-ment and accepted my fate. Imagine my surprise when, because of my earlier, “brief” decision, no one seemed to notice the defect. It was not even noticeable in the pictures I eventually reviewed. I now endorse and wear only black underwear with dark outfits.
So what is my point in sharing this ancient, self-effacing, ridiculous but true story? It is simply that, despite being totally innocent in the compression of my contracted and expected strike provisions, I eventually realized that I could and should have planned and acted better. I should have been more careful, less angry during the strike while wearing any part of my performance wardrobe. I should have been less hasty, less angry when handling my suit coat. Hell, I should have had a spare suit. I have since addressed with greater attention, habit, and seriousness these and the ever-evolving inventory of details. Remember the devil is in details!
Rocky can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org