Skinny Jeans And Divine Providence

A year or two ago, My Royal Consort and I did a good deed. Doing good deeds on the scale of the one we did, gets you some attention, whether you are up for it or not. And so, it came to pass that we were invited to lunch at The Patience Club on Providence’s east side.

When the invitation was made, I accepted with great pleasure. What could be more cheerful than being invited to lunch at a private club in one of the most beautiful cities anywhere, a city steeped in history and home to the scions of our small, but historically significant state?

My elation was quickly transformed to intense irritation when an email from our hostess following our conversation arrived, with an FYI that no jeans were allowed at The Patience Club.

I had never been to The Patience Club, but despite that, I knew better than to wear blue jeans to a private club. Did she not realize to whom she was speaking? Was she not aware that I am a WASP of the highest order, a lapsed WASP who married a lapsed Irish Catholic, but a WASP nonetheless?

It was unfair of me to be so cranky with our hostess. After all, we had met with her predecessor on several occasions and had been at pains to demonstrate that we were down to earth, and not afraid of hard work. For all she knew, we could have been Ma and Pa Kettle.

I am ashamed to say that my reaction to her heads up about the jeans was not at all classy. I couldn’t help it. I responded with a snotty rejoinder and recklessly pressed “send.” I instantly regretted being sarcastic to a perfectly nice woman who had graciously invited us out to lunch, a feeling which, when combined with my snit over the jeans FYI, created a noxious brew of resentment and regret that fermented in my head over the next several weeks leading up to our assignation. In the court of my conscience, I eventually ruled in my favor, laying to rest the regret and replacing it with dread because I assumed that I had alienated a perfectly nice person.

Ninety-nine percent of the time, I am completely at home in my own skin. But when someone presses the clothing button, and implies that I might not possess the vestigial WASP knowledge that is my birthright, such as how to dress appropriately for a formal occasion, I lose my mind. Did my people not invent the fucking dress code in the first place? Just because I chose to be a hippy doesn’t mean I can’t access the knowledge required for High WASP when called upon to do so.

If we were engaged in class warfare, I don’t think anyone would want me in their trench, judging by how wobbly I get when it comes to clothes and status. It is really quite disappointing. As long as I am securely ensconced with members of my own tribe, I will happily preach the gospel of doing your own thing, being yourself and not pandering to society’s expectations. But, when the WASP gauntlet gets thrown down, I quickly forget my own catechism and start pawing through my jewelry box looking that string of pearls handed down by my great aunt Bess.

By the time our lunch date arrived, I had worked myself into high dudgeon over the prospect of having to prove that I was not someone who needed to be told to not wear jeans to the Patience Club. I found the pearls, which I never wear, and some khakis, and an Ann Taylor sweater, and some frumpy penny loafers that I keep on hand for just these kinds of occasions, and assembled myself into something completely alien.

Properly attired, and ready to take my rightful place next to any old-money gas-bag we might encounter, we set out. Our hostess could not have been more gracious, and the Patience Club was, as my mother would have said, “simply divine.”

Just as I do not like dressing in a demure, ladylike fashion, My Royal Consort dislikes having to wear a suit and tie. His preferred attire consists of his fire hose pants and a chamois shirt from Duluth Traders. There are seasonal variations, but within any given season, the look is quite consistent from day to day. He does not particularly relish wasting money on barbers. He will wear a favorite piece of clothing until it disintegrates.

My Royal Consort has navigated the formal events in his life with a motley assortment of items either purchased in extremis hours before a funeral, or handed down by my father, who was a fool for beautiful clothes. Because I do not understand the language of mens’ clothing, I can offer nothing in the way of guidance.

Moments before we are supposed to leave for a formal event, My Royal Consort can be found calmly excavating dust-covered, hanger-weary oxfords from the closet and pairing them with rumpled trousers that can only be partially reconstituted with an iron. This last minute couture thing is the stuff of nightmares for me, but not for him.

During our lunch, in my fever to prove that we were not a pair of hicks, I fell all over myself in the verbal equivalent of what I had just gone through assembling my attire. It was exhausting, but gratifying. I think she got it.

The day we were scheduled to have lunch at the Patience Club was also my birthday, so we planned to spend the afternoon walking around the city. We had stashed our civvies in the back seat of the car and intended to change in to them in the car,

If you have ever changed clothes in a Toyota Corolla then you know that there is and awkward moment when you are in your underwear, awkwardly raising your butt off the seat, valiantly tugging your recalcitrant pants up and over your knees. It was at just this juncture when there came a rapping on my window. “Mrs. McDonald! Mrs. McDonald! You forgot your purse in the dining room.”








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