Fancy Clothes and Sweaty Bro’s

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Sheila was going through closets and getting out her spring clothes when she found two Tommy Bahama silk shirts that her husband, Frank, had purchased before he passed away. Frank was a much, uh, trimmer guy than me so it was surprising to see that he had shirts sized XL. But I assumed he had found them for a great price (probably at a time when he was a little bit heavier than his usual fit self) and rarely wore them, so it was perfect for me. 
And I need to get my wardrobe straightened out … I have lost a fair amount of weight over the past year (about 100 pounds) (yes, I was a fat bastard) and I have been slowly getting new clothes. Sheila, who knows about stuff like this, has been great in helping me find the right kind of clothes. Of course, a lot of the help is in the interest of making me look acceptable and not my usual embarrassing self (Sheila always looks perfect) (even when she’s just hanging out around the house). 
Copeland’s in Kennesaw
Now, a Tommy Bahama shirt was just the thing I needed Sunday morning … we were going out for brunch with our friends Brenda and Martin to a place called Copeland’s, a nice restaurant in the Atlanta area that has a jazz brunch every Sunday. Brenda and Martin were the very first “non-family” people I met when I moved here to be with Sheila and they immediately made me feel welcomed. Sheila and Brenda have been friends for a very long time so I always try to not be so “Jersey” when in the company of Sheila’s circle of peeps. And dressing in something other than old Dockers and a quasi-faded LL Bean shirt that are both too big for me was a good place to start.
In addition to the Tommy Bahama shirt, I was also wearing a new pair of sorta dressy dark-wash jeans that I had just bought at Horsetown … yes, Horsetown … a cool cowboy attire shop here in the Atlanta area. Horsetown has more jeans than anyplace I’ve ever seen, as well as a ton of western/southern style shirts, hats, boots, jackets and everything a style-conscious Georgia boy/girl could want. And the staff is amazingly knowledgeable, making sure that the clothing you buy fits right. 
So, there I was at the Copeland’s jazz brunch with my gorgeous girlfriend, good friends, wearing my Tommy Bahama silk shirt and fancy Horsetown … yes, Horsetown … jeans, and I realized how different my Sunday mornings are now, as compared to a few years ago. Back then I regularly would be sitting at home in a sloppy, ill-fitting t-shirt and Walmart jeans chomping on a bagel with waayyy too much cream cheese, dripping it onto my clothes while I piled on the weight. Now? A fancy joint with great people, my beautiful partner, some coolio clothes, eating a crab-cake Benedict meal with excellent cheese grits and listening to very good jazz!
Affogato, a perfect mid-afternoon snack
Later in the afternoon Sheila and I were on the deck having our afternoon affogato (a wonderful small dessert dish with gelato and espresso) (BTW, we make our own gelato) talking about my wardrobe and what I had to do to get up to speed. If you recall (What? You DON’T recall?) Laura (my daughter) was visiting a few weeks ago, and she is a vintage clothes re-seller, so she knows where to look for bargains on nice clothes. And I’m in the mood for bargains since these Tommy Bahama shirts are like $100 a shirt, or more. Sheila suggested we look at Etsy and eBay to see what we could find, since that’s where Laura sells her stuff.
Sure enough, I found 4 shirts on eBay, slightly/lightly used (Like New! according to the listing) (I hope that means no armpit stains) (I spent enough years of my life wearing my brothers worn out junky shirts), up for auction, ending in a few hours. Two bidders were trying to buy the shirts, but I waited until the last 20 seconds of the auction and outbid both of those losers (that’ll show ‘em, don’t be messing with a Jersey guy) paying only $72.00 for 4 shirts ($18 a shirt, for the math challenged) and thereby saving at least $300 if I bought new. 
Tommy Bahama – hopefully pit-stain free
Of course, I still need to worry about the armpit stains … if my brothers weren’t such sweaty bums when we were little I’d probably not be losing sleep over these potential pit stains, but they were a bunch of slobs! It wasn’t just armpit stains, either, no way, they’d be spilling food all over themselves, having runny noses drip on stuff … I’m not even willing to think about what was going on when they hit puberty, yucky … so who can blame me for being leery of bodily fluid secretions being stuck on my new high end, fancy Tommy Bahama silk shirts?
Sheila, who by now realizes that I’m damaged goods, just fluffed off the pit stain concerns, making me a little less leery of buying used clothes (but Like New! according to the listing) (and they’d never lie on an eBay sale, would they?) (shoulda looked at the return policy before I paid). I expect to receive them in a few days, future blog postings will provide the results (that’s assuming any of you will still read this stuff).
Well, that experience led me to start looking at Robert Graham shirts, too … I have a Robert Graham shirt that I bought on a super-super sale when we were in Destin, FL last Thanksgiving. That shirt, brand new (in other words, pit stain free), was $80, and normally sells for $220. And it’s a nice shirt, but I’m not spending $220 on new shirts … it’s bad enough I’m buying socks that cost $22 a pair, I can’t afford $220 shirts anymore with the price of socks these days! This is the Robert Graham shirt, I was wearing it in our bad Christmas picture …
I’m the dumb-looking one
Anyhow, I digress … so I think, “why not look at Robert Graham shirts, too” and I pop them into my eBay search engine. And there are a ton of them on eBay, most for low money. But since I had just bought Tommy Bahama shirts, and already have the 2 shirts from Frank and my 1 Robert Graham shirt, that makes 7 (seven!!) fancy shirts and only one pair of Horsetown (yes, Horsetown) jeans and bad shoes. Sheila, who most certainly must know that I’m just not that bright, corrals me back to the issue at hand and says, “We need to talk about your shoes”. “No way”, I said, “I’m not buying used shoes, you don’t even want to know what my disgusting brothers did to shoes, I’m not buying used shoes”. After Sheila got done rolling her eyes and, I think, saying a silent prayer for mercy, she said, “No, not used, new. Reef makes nice sandals and slip on shoes”.
Reef? I had never heard of those shoes, yet here was Sheila just firing these names off one after the other … Tommy Bahama, Robert Graham, Reef, even Thorlos (my $22 socks)…  I realized I was way out of my league. Of course, if you have been paying any attention, you already know that. But Sheila pulled up the Reef page, said “Get these and these”, indicating a pair of sorta flip-flop shoes (but not like the K-Mart $1 kind) and a canvas-looking-slip-on-loafer thing, cautioning me to only wear them in the house when I get them, making sure they fit, just in case I have to return them. This high-stakes maneuvering is making me dizzy … my brothers never worried about junk fitting them, they just secreted fluids and sent the clothes on to the next guy in line.
Frank, my youngest brother, never had to worry about this kind of stuff … he was the last in line, but my sister Barb was ahead of him so she was a kind of nasty clothes buffer and most old things were tossed before Frank could fit in them. And Barb, the only girl, she always had new stuff, and her own room, too, while the rest of us were stacked up like mid-shipmen in bunks on a battleship. I think that’s why both Frank and Barb are successful in life … no pit stain worries. Sorry, went off there for a minute …
So, just to recap, I’m living in this beautiful, large home in Georgia, driving a new Lexus, wearing clothing I had never heard of, retired and sharing my life with an amazing woman! Not bad for an old Jersey musician, not bad at all …

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