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An old friend - all right, the oldest of friends (think Williamsburg. Agincourt. Lascaux.) - wrote to me privately today to say that, in his opinion, the people who commented on the other day's hissy-fit entry were "very brave." It is true that, had he, this old friend, made any remarks, there would have been nothing but a few bones and cinders on the plate when I was through. But to the rest of the world, I am the New Me! I have discovered the ultimate therapy: when I'm in a jam, I blog. I share.

Anybody who thought that I wasn't going to make my way down to A T Harris first thing yesterday morning to rent a tuxedo like a good boy gets a D minus. Do you honestly think that I could face my "innombrables lecteurs" if I succeeded in worming my way out of Thursday night's dance? Not on your life! I'd have had to close the site down and creep off in shame! The wonder of blogging, you see, is that I get to do the King-Kong thing and then, first thing next morning, distance myself from it. Tomorrow is another entry! In the end, I show myself to be capable of making a little sacrifice when it counts. Mind you, don't think that any of this faux magnanimity won points with Kathleen. She saw through it all from the start, responding to my Sunday-night imprecations with the "Yes, dear 101" technique. "I'm sorry," she'd say on the multiple occasions that called for this concession. "I'm so sorry." But that was all she'd say. Her beading progressed uninterrupted.

As if to make me even more ridiculous, the gent at A T Harris asked me if I lived in the city, in which case they'd deliver and then pick up. So much for my three trips.

My palsy being what it is, my proof-of-purchase will be valid only with those readers who (a) know what East 44th Street looks like, next to Brooks Brothers (on the right) or (b) trust me when I say that the number on the butterscotch marquee is "11." A T Harris is on the second floor.

During the transaction, I couldn't keep my eyes off the two manikins that were dolled up in Ralph Lauren. One suit was a tux, and the other was tails - as in "white tie and." It's only when you study such an outfit that you understand why it is that, in the language of proper invitations, the word "Informal," tucked into the lower right corner of the card, means that male recipients are to wear tuxedos. Happily for our less cryptic modern world, the term "Black Tie" does the job nowadays. Deny, if you can, that "Informal" was a mocking snare for the unwary. But when you contemplate the two possibilities side by side, it's true that the tux looks, well, casual.


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