My parents are going away this winter on vacation. I was sworn to secrecy about it last week for some reason understood only by my mother, who is insane. However, let us say that Isaac and Captain Stubing would not be out of place on this vacation, nor would a Panama hat…

Anyway, this type of vacation requires one to dress in certain ways at certain times (and, of course, eat obscene amounts of shrimp). This is not a problem for my mother, who is the girliest of girls, and who, I swear, would graft more fingers onto her hands to hold more rings if she could. My father, however, is a different story. Unlike Mom, he does not like to dress up. He also gets hot easily. Typically on vacations he is happy as a clam if he can wander around in shorts and muscle shirts. (What is a muscle shirt, you may be wondering? It’s a loose-fitting tank top with really big arm holes favoured by body builders and the like. It has never been fashionable. Not even in the 80s. My father owns many of them.)

Now, in Neustadt, there is little to no risk of my father ever making a fashion faux pas. Mullets and leather jackets with fringe still make appearances. However, on mystery vacations, it’s basically printed on your tickets how you have to dress when. And one of these stipulations for men is wearing a dark suit for dinners. (If I could get my father pimped out in a cream linen suit I’d pay for it myself just to take pictures, but I digress…) However, while my father has owned any number of pairs of dress pants over the years, as well as sport coats and dress shirts, he does not seem to like suits. By my mother’s calculation (admittedly, her memory for the administrivia is not as good as mine, but in this case I believe her), the last suit Dad owned/wore was to his wedding. In 1967. When the Leafs last won the Stanley Cup. Remember that? Me, either.

So on Saturday when I was at Bakers’ Acres (yes, there is a sign at the end of the driveway – I am almost old enough for it to not shame me anymore…) for Dad to put the snow tires on my car and for me to fix the computers (my parents are hardcore – they have TWO computers!), when I arrived Dad was sitting at the kitchen table, wearing a baseball cap with an unbent peak *sigh*, looking through (I believe) the Sears catalogue. At that point Mom hadn’t told me about the vacation and the dress code, so I didn’t know what he was looking at. Even so, horror and fear struck my heart when I heard him utter the words: “What is rayon polyester viscose…?”

In the short time that I had before I had to head back to KW, I did what damage control I could in trying to convince Dad that a synthetic would be uncomfortable and hot and not breathe at all in a hot climate, and that something in a light wool would be much nicer. Of course, until I hear definitively that he’s bought a suit, I live in fear…

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