Approximately once every two years, the stars align and something magical happens. My wife and children go out of town and leave me to my own devices. For me, in general, this means one thing: unmitigated, unlimited carousing. I put out the call to my peeps and my homeys and my bros, and we go shut down some bars. Or, you know, play some Golden Tee. Truthfully, I’m really only good for a night or two. Then I grow bored with carousing, run out of steam, and begin to miss my wife and children. But for those two nights, boy howdy! Katy bar the door and other folksy expressions!
Except, as it turns out, the Great Tuxedo Challenge of 2012, brought to you by Patron XO Cafe, with special help from Al’s Formal Wear, changed all that. Yesterday morning, I dropped off my family at the airport. At 8:45 that night, sitting at my house, I had a decision to make. I could go to Goodfriend and drink till the taps spit air — or I could stay home and take off the tux. Those are the rules. If I’m out, the tux is on. If I’m in, the thing can come off at a quarter till 9. Carousal or cool comfort? That was my dilemma.
You know how this story ends. Though the stars were aligned, I wound up sitting in my underwear, watching gymnastics.
I want to take a nap. Badly. That’s what I’ve noticed. Part of this could be explained by my habit of staying up to watch Olympics coverage, but I think the tux has something to do with it, too. Being a few degrees too warm seems to take a toll. When you’re cold, your body begins to shiver as a way to generate heat. That process is taxing and will leave you feeling exhausted in short order. Can a tux do the same thing to you, even a handsome tux from Al’s Formal Wear? I put the question to Professor George Havenith, professor of environmental physiology and ergonomics Loughborough University, in Leicestershire. I had heard Havenith interviewed on NPR and figured he’d have an answer. That he did:
You are right that in the cold you use extra energy for shivering, and that will contribute to tiredness. In the heat, though less extreme, you also use more energy. The first response of your body at mild heat exposure (you in the office, wearing a thick tux) is to increase the blood flow to the skin. This warms the skin and will help to lose more heat. For this you will see an increase in heart rate that will also lead to an increased energy use. If in your office, that is not too much, but each time you go out (and probably for a while after coming back in) you will show a much stronger response, including sweating. This all contributes to your energy use and thus will cause some fatigue, too.
Then there is the general effect of discomfort on our body and psychology. Feeling uncomfortable (warm) does affect people’s productivity, and even only moderate shifts in thermal comfort have been shown to affect productivity.
So, though the physiological effects of mild heat (too much clothing does the same and exacerbates the heat) is not that massive, it all adds up to your fatigue.
This differs quite a bit between people, and it is actually difficult to predict who is affected most.
Here is the key phrase: “even only moderate shifts in thermal comfort have been shown to affect productivity.” We just finished producing our September issue. Can I promise you that I read everything carefully and gave each story the love and care it required before going to print? No, I cannot promise you that.
This thing is now giving my mother nightmares. Over the weekend, she told me she had a disturbing dream from which she woke sobbing. Now, the fact that her air conditioning went out the same night might have had something to do it. But I asked her to do a little dream journaling. Here’s what Mom sent me:
Seems I was having a party with a lot of naughty kids who wouldn’t keep their feet off the sofa despite my reprimands. Then Tim’s friends came in to warn me that Timmy had way over-served himself. He followed in, barely able to stumble, naked save for a short white dress shirt, mumbling incoherently. He hung on my neck, and I asked where his tuxedo was. “I just threw it away out there!” I ran outside into a strange city downtown, looking everywhere for tux parts. Finally I found the tux jacket in the street just as Tim ran past into the night. I was frantic to find him, knowing what terrible shape he was in. Finally I looked down a dark stairway where a lot of Asian people were shouting. He came out of a doorway where it seemed he’d gone for some strange treatment. Now he had a hat on. His entire head was bright red, body very pale white. I just knew his heart would give out. And that’s when my crying woke me.
Damn the tux bet!
You know what’s not really a big deal? Going to a dinner party dressed in a tux. You know what really blows? Waking up Sunday morning and putting that tux back on. And then going grocery shopping.
What do you do on a lazy Saturday? Me, I spend some quality time at my home away from home, Al’s Formal Wear (because I went to Boulevardier last night and spilled marrow on my vest).
Yesterday I discovered a new phenomenon. Or at least I named it.
For roughly 12 hours straight, I’d been suited up in my black Joseph Abboud tuxedo, feeling like I was running a low-grade fever. My house, as I’ve mentioned, doesn’t get as cool as my wife would like it to, so by the time I’d arrived home from work and helped prepare dinner and shuttled the sprinklers around the backyard in an effort to keep everything from turning brown, I was good and ready to shed the formal wear by 8:45, the appointed time at which I am allowed to go casual. Also, I was sweating. Not a dripping sweat. Just the kind of persistent, irritating perspiration that creates a moist sheen under one’s Hanes.
I was in the bedroom, disrobing, when my son called from the living room, “Dad! You gotta come watch this!” Nelly Cruz had just hit a solo home run in the fourth inning to tie up the game at 7 against the Angels. I was unbuttoning my dress shirt as I entered the room to watch the replay. I stepped into a stream of cold air pouring out of an AC vent mounted high on a wall. The zephyr hit my damp undershirt just as Cruz cranked his long ball over the wall. And at that point — right then — my flesh tingled and a shudder of sweet release shot through my body.
That, friends, is something I call a tuxedogasm.
Actually, I called it a “tuxedorgasm” on Twitter, and Zac suggested I drop the “r.” Zac is a wise man — and not just because he wore shorts today to work. I immediately bought the URL for tuxedogasm.com. My team of Indian programmers is right now updating the site and adding new content. I invite you to visit tuxedogasm.com with one warning: you might just find yourself wiling away many hours there when you ought to be working. It is, as they say, very sticky.
Zac: Still tuxed up? Not Cheating? Chin up, champ!
Tim: [picture of Tim still in tux, flipping Zac the bird] In all seriousness, the time at home in the tux has been difficult. Far worse than the rest of the day.
Zac: I can imagine. Just 30 more times.
Most of yesterday, in truth, wasn’t all that difficult. Yes, I had some issues with sweat when I was forced to walk outside. But like most office buildings in North Texas, ours is kept pretty cool, so the time at work wasn’t bad. Some of the ladies walk around our office with Snuggies. (And by “some of the ladies,” I really just mean Laura Kostelny.) A tux at work in August is really no big shakes.
My house is a different matter. Owing to a midcentury modern design, we don’t have an attic. No attic means a thin heat barrier. Upshot: even with 6 tons of AC blowing full tilt, my house can only achieve a temperature of about 25 degrees below ambient. Yesterday’s official high was 107, tying the record set in 2011. I’ll do the math for you. My house was 82 degrees when I got home yesterday. Which is actually fine if you’re wearing shorts and a t-shirt.
I was wearing a tuxedo.
Her obituary has already run in the paper, so there’s no reason not to tell you that Nancy’s mom, Jo Nichols, died on July 28. She was 83. Nancy likes to say that people often mistook her mom for her sister. It’s not an exaggeration. The first time I met Jo, that’s precisely what I thought. “Nancy’s older sister is really cool.” Jo was a firecracker. And she would have been proud to see her daughter’s eulogy today at Restland. Nancy titled it “Bury Me in Bluejeans,” which was Jo’s request. Nancy killed it. She was brave and funny and moving, and, until her closing lines, when she finally allowed herself to tremble, just a bit, Nancy’s were the only dry eyes in the place. But before she began her speech, as she took the lectern, Nancy looked out over those solemnly assembled at Wildwood Chapel, saw me in my fine tux and purple vest from Al’s Formal Wear, and said with a chuckle, “Oh, Timmy.”
Returning to work, I had to walk a total of four blocks, from the Arts District parking garage to St. Paul Place. I arrived at my desk having sweated clean through my dress shirt and cursing this mortal coil.
Tomorrow is the big day. The challenge begins. And, as it turns out, tomorrow I will attend a funeral. A few of the ladies in the office have suggested that wearing a tux to a funeral is not a good idea — not because the garb itself is inappropriate but because I’ll be doing a bit, and doing a bit at a funeral is poor form. I tried to argue that it would be possible for me to “wear the tux seriously” tomorrow, at least for the duration of the funeral. The ladies didn’t seem to buy it.
My question to you, then: is it poor form to wear a tux to a funeral if said tux is a high-jinksy prop?
Follow-up question: is Patron XO Cafe a good beverage to bring to a funeral?
The Great Tuxedo Challenge starts Wednesday. For the entire month of August, with help from Al’s Formal Wear, I’ll don a tux. Wednesday’s high should be about 107. This gives me great concern, and it gives Zac a giddy grin. Before we begin, I’d like to thank Dawn Brown at Al’s on Oak Lawn (pictured). She has given the challenge no small amount of consideration and picked out for me the most suitable tux for the occasion (microfiber shirt, a lightweight super 110 coat and pants). I would be lying if I told you I wasn’t a little worried about how this gag is going to go. I hope Zac and the rest of you sadists enjoy yourselves.
Or, it soon will be. After I posted about it last week, an anonymous benefactor stepped forward to supply Tim with his reward, should he make it through the month of August wearing a tuxedo all day every day. And Al’s Formal Wear has graciously agreed to provide Tim with the tuxes to help him do so. In fact, he is at one of their stores right now getting fitted. So, everyone who wanted Tim to suffer, you’ve got your wish, starting August 1.
When things get slow around here — or, to Krista’s ever-lasting dismay, even when they don’t — I tend to pose hypotheticals. Usually to Tim, because he will drop anything he is doing, no matter how important, and try to come up with a legitimate answer. Mike will play along, too, but his answers usually drive me insane. For instance, I asked, if you had to, what is the biggest animal you could kill with your bare hands? Mike said he could take down a giraffe, a choice I still find to be patently ridiculous. Anyway, several weeks ago, I asked Tim the following: What would it take to get you to wear a tuxedo every day for the month of July? He thought about it for maybe 15 seconds and answered, “I would do it in return for a nice tuxedo.” We were getting somewhere.