Have a tux, silk ties or high heels? Bellevue might be the place for you | Humor

The other day I donated my tuxedo to Granny’s Attic.

That’s right: I own — or rather owned — an elegant black tuxedo, complete with the usual accessories: front-pleated wing-collared blinding white shirt, black bow tie, mother-of pearl studs and cuff links, and silk cummerbund, which is that thing around your belly that makes you look like a Spanish bullfighter already in mourning in expectation of a terminal goring. It — the suit, not the bullfighter — was created by Bill Blass and custom tailored just for me. I once had the kind of life that required it.

A long time ago. Very long.

Bill Blass died in 2002. By then, my tuxedo was already well into its second decade … and languishing in the back of my closet because, frankly, it would take an entire team of designers and seamstresses — and possibly even engineers — to get me into that tux again. But did I abandon it? Of course not. I figured there was always a chance that any day now I’ll get some horrible wasting disease and, having wasted away sufficiently, would look absolutely spiffing in my coffin in that gorgeous tux.

In a way, holding on to the tux was an act of loyalty and affection, not unlike my continuing to pour money into my little red sports car, which is roughly the same vintage: a quarter century old with a quarter million miles. Every time I pull into the Burton Shell (which does not sell Shell) the repair staff does high-fives all around. This is never a good sign.

On the other hand, as the woman lately known as my wife so unkindly noted, “At least you fit in the car.”

But let’s face it: A tuxedo on Vashon is about as useful as a meat thermometer is to a vegan.

I should have known this moment of betrayal was coming. There were harbingers. I used to have a friend in New York who worked as Ralph Lauren’s right hand woman and from whom I was able to acquire superlative suits far below manufacturer’s cost. Thus, in a previous career on the opposite coast, draped in navy blue with a faint white chalk stripe, or a charcoal herringbone weave or dove gray flannel, I managed to cut a splendid figure despite my plentitude of other disadvantages. But after a couple of years on Vashon, I left them at Granny’s one day and slunk away quickly before the suits could comprehend the ignoble fate to which they’d been abandoned. I still have bad dreams about this.

I also have a bag full of silk ties in a drawer. Like tuxedos, these are about as useful as wheels on a bird. Why are they still there? What diabolical hold do they have over me? I don’t know. Plus, let’s face it: They are dangerous. Any day now the woman lately known as my wife could discover them and think: garrotes! I can see her slinking suggestively around the room doing a version of the dance of the seven veils with the ties and then, arggh!, and the world goes black.

And speaking of women, have you ever noticed that there are a lot of women’s high-heeled shoes for sale at Granny’s? Sometimes, if I find the right size and because money is no object, I buy a pair for my wife for maybe $2.99. They fill up the space the tux left and are just as frequently worn.

My theory is this: Fashion-conscious women from Seattle visit Vashon, decide they absolutely must relocate — a decision heavily influenced, no doubt, by the large number of rustically handsome, salt-and-pepper bearded, pony-tailed, paunch-bellied men here — and the first thing they do is dump their heels at Granny’s and replace them with a dozen pairs of Keen sandals from Northwest Sports.

And there you have it: orphaned tuxedos and abandoned tailored suits, high-fashion heels dumped as if in a dark, dank alley along with who knows what other femininely dainty bits. All in the name of … what? A comfortable lifestyle?! Where is taste? Where is style?  Oh yeah, that would be Bellevue.

Meanwhile, I’m already feeling guilty about the tux — not for getting rid of it, but for foisting it off on Granny’s. Because let’s be honest: it’s never going to sell.

Not on Vashon.



— Will North is a Vashon novelist who has written 18 books in the last 30 years. His family still wonders when he’ll get a real job.



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