With a wedding to attend

With a wedding to attend this weekend, I set out to buy a snazzy shirt and tie. I simplified my life last year by buying a black suit. No more quandaries about whether that eggshell shirt or orange tie will match the brown or gray suit I have at home, from now on, everything just has to go with black.

In my mind, I came up with a quick plan: hit Nordstroms, find a white shirt (simplify!) and colorful tie, and each would probably run $40 or so. A portly, balding gentleman materialized out of thin air the moment I stepped near the tie racks, measured my neck, and was off in search of a shirt for a customer with ape-length arms. He returned with a small number of choices, and for obvious reasons, I picked the whitest, softest in the bunch (you can't put a price on comfort).

The next and last thing to do was pick a tie, and if ties could ask questions, the store offered anything from "Would you like to open an account at this bank?" to "Is that your final answer?" My eye was drawn towards the Regis end of the spectrum, the man helping me, the bank employee end. After shaking my head and making a few "naw, how about something a bit more daring?" comments, he gave up and asked me to pick anything I liked, and a shiny green striped number jumped out at me.

He sprang to life, put it on top of the shirt, and began uttering a series of highly positive adjectives. It was odd to see him react so, but in my mind I felt smug and thought "Yes, those do look good together, I totally understand his enthusiasm for my good taste." As he gently wrapped the shirt and tie in multiple layers of tissue paper, complete with small Nordstrom-branded stickers, I slid my visa card across the counter in response to a slightly high $150-something total. I figured the shirt was probably worth whatever the price was, and it would stay soft and last for a very long time.

As I left the store, and strolled out to my car, I fished the receipt out of the bag, and realized I just bought a $110 tie.