Opinion: Spot-on dinner apparel


Next month, Mary Ellen and I will take our first vacation out of the U.S. since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’re excited about this cruise.

I had to buy a dress shirt for one of the special dinners on the ship. I don’t like to wear a white shirt, but Mary Ellen was adamant that I go traditional. I purchased an additional shirt for the more casual nights.

I came home with the two shirts. I opened the package and tried the white one on. It fit perfectly. My wife was in the room watching me with a smirk on her face.

 “You have a stain on your shirt already,” she said.

“That’s impossible. I just put it on.”

“They must really know their customers at Kohl’s.”

 “What do you mean?”

 “They pre-stained it for you.”

Yes, right next to the third button were brown blotches, nothing I was familiar with despite my extensive experience with the tell-tale signs left by every condiment I have ever slathered on a fast-food sandwich. 

“I guess I can’t wear that to dinner,” I said as I was about to unpack my second option.

“Why not?” she asked. “It’s gonna look like that, anyway, right after you finish your appetizer.”

I reached for the blue button-down, carefully removing all the pins from the folded shirt before I put it on. I thought it looked great and said to Mary Ellen, “As long as I’ve got it on, let’s go out for a nice dinner.”

“You can’t wear that shirt, either,” she said.

 “Why not?”

“It has a smudge under the second button.”

Sure enough, once again I had purchased a brand-new piece of apparel that had somehow anticipated its unavoidable destiny and went ahead and self-stained.

“Wait a second, Mary Ellen. I’ll wear a tie. That will cover it.”

“Super idea. Too bad that every tie in your closet has ketchup on it.”

“OK, I’ll button my sport coat. That will cover the mark on the tie.”

Mary Ellen walked over to the closet and pulled out the one sport coat I still wear. She looked at it carefully and shook her head.

“This is not going to work. It has mustard on the lapel. Do you own a raincoat?”

After we returned home from dinner, I washed both shirts and successfully removed the original soiled areas, but the shirts were destined on the trip to be become a kaleidoscope of tasty tidbits from our buffets.

Recently, we were going over final plans for the vacation, and I asked Mary Ellen questions about the reputation of the cruise line we were using.

“Do you really think I will like the food, Mary Ellen?”

“Oh, yes. For you, Dick, it will be spot on.”