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Oct 5, 2010

Michael responds! "A well-made, but one-dimensional hit piece."



To the misled minions of MPB (Misleading Propagandist Blathering):

As guest blogger, I decided to use as today's title an eerily appropriate phrase from a review of the recent blockbuster,  The Social Network.  

Still reeling from yesterday's inaccurate portrayal of my corduroy jacket purchase, not to mention the slanderous representation of my persona as well as of my domestic relationship with your regular host, I have decided to use this rare opportunity to address you all as a means of setting the record straight.

I have been granted this opportunity only because, in order to keep up the pretense of being too ill with what appears to me as the most inconsequential flu bug ever to do his fair share of the dog-walking, Peter has been forced to pretend that his symptoms are also too severe to blog.  (Oh, please.  That little academy-award winner is right at this moment luxuriating under the duvet, lips smeared with MY Burt's Bees lip balm, fake-sniffling every couple of minutes, while I type my fingers to the bone so that you, dear readers, will not have to go a day without your RDA of MPB.  But at least you will now know the truth, so I can't complain.  Much.)

What specious barb shall I address myself to first?  That I eschew home-sewn couture?  That I dress like a slut?  That it was my fault that I found myself shopping at the local American Apparel store?  Let's just take these questions in the order they just occurred to me.

Lie #1: Michael doesn't appreciate the clothes Peter has sewn for him.  

This is just laughable.  Peter's pieces have largely supplanted their commercially produced counterparts in those categories in which they fall.  Dress shirts?  On occasions on which I wish to look my best and fanciest -- nights at the opera, first lessons with new students, dinners at elegant restaurants (I added this last example in the hope that Peter will one day take me out to such an establishment) -- I alternate between the two gorgeous dress shirts Peter's sewn for me.  (The Liberty of London fabric one and the green and white striped number, for those of you in the know.)  Sportswear?  If you look at our vacation photos you will note that in them I am wearing nothing else (on top) than my plaid cotton shirts and the two tank tops Peter made for me.  I continue this pattern back home as well.  

In truth, I love the idea that nobody else has a garment like mine.  I love the perfect fit that custom-tailoring allows.  And I feel really special knowing someone has spent time manufacturing something just for me.  

I am patiently awaiting home-sewn replacements for my jeans, my suits, and my one-piece ribbed cotton step-in dance club outfits.  (Some fuddy-duddies think 45-year-olds should avoid the latter; I won't name any names.)

Lie #2: Michael likes to dress like a slut.  

OK, this is not exactly a lie.  But one has to consider the context.  I would not wear a Speedo to Martha Stewart's latest garden party [Martha breathes a sigh of relief].  But Peter and I live in Chelsea, where tank tops are considered de rigeur at brunch.  In January.   It is expected here that 1) you keep up your work-out regimen to maximize your assets and 2) that you dress to display said assets to their advantage.  Peter, as you can see from many of the slutty, I mean, artistic photos on this blog, has committed to maintaining his Chelsea physique, but he contrarily refuses to show it off in public.  

I, on the other hand, in deference to the conventions of my community, seek out the clingy, the low-cut, the short-short, and the peek-a-boo whenever these options are available.  And they always are, in the stores in Chelsea.  I'd hoped that having my own personal tailor would permit me to set  daring new standards of over-exposure in our neighborhood, but Sister Peter the Demure has put her sensibly shod foot down over and over, cramping my style in the process.

In all honesty, occasionally I appreciate Peter's sense of propriety, which I hope will prevent me from becoming the next generation's Mamie Van Doren.  (Especially since there is a good chance that Mamie herself will still be flaunting her assets for the next generation as well.)

Lie #3: Michael wanted to shop at American Apparel last month.  Peter attempted to side-step this issue yesterday, but today we WILL "get into that."

The story began last month, when, as many of you know, my poor, elderly mother expressed that all she wanted in commemoration of her 70th birthday was a photograph of all her children and their partners.  In formal and casual outfits.  In 7 different photographic settings.  And the casual shirts had to be of light, solid colors (but not white) and with button-down collars.  Just a simple wish from a simple old woman.

Knowing my mom's attention to detail and her insistence on our following her orders, I mean, suggestions, I started preparing my wardrobe for the shoot weeks in advance, making sure each piece satisfied the matriarchal stipulations.  Peter, coming from a far more laid-back family, kept assuring me that he had everything he needed, but I knew for a fact that he did not have a button-collar shirt.  "Oh, I'll just sew some buttons onto the collar of one of my shirts."

Yeah, just like he'll sew that $100 pile of wool fabric I bought into a suit.  But I'm getting ahead of myself.

As the shoot date drew nearer, I began to break out in stress-hives.  My mother's happiness (and thus everyone's) was at stake.  Finally, after seeing Peter day after day nonchalantly waving his hands around and speaking vaguely of workable shirts in the back of his closet, I decided to take matters into my own hands, before I exploded with anxiety.

I knew that this move would infuriate Peter, who doesn't cotton to having sartorial decisions made for him, so I had to operate in secret.  First, I checked out the Salvation Army, knowing how Peter admires thrift, but they were all out of solid-light-colored, button-down collar dress shirts in his size, so I had to visit the stores in the neighborhood.  I started with the Gap and Banana Republic because of their generous return policies.  (I was pretty certain Peter would not want to wear ever again any shirt I'd presumed to pick out for him, so I figured we could just leave the tags on during the shoot and return the shirt afterwards.  I know, I'm not proud of my deceit, but I was desperate not to disappoint my mom.)  Sadly, the only button-collar shirts I found at either store were plaid -- unacceptable!

Since we were now up to the day before the shoot, I had one more option -- American Apparel.  They were my last choice, because their return policy stipulates exchanges or store credit only.  I would not gain any thrift points for this decision, but remember, I was desperate.  To my relief, they had dress shirts that would fit the requirements in sizes and colors suitable to my partner.  (As the spouse of a sewist, I recognized the poor construction and cheap fabric of this garment, to my credit, but hey, it had to look good only once and only in a photo.)  

Long story short, Peter wore the lilac shirt (looking pretty cute in it, in my opinion) the one time, the tags tucked surreptitiously inside while the camera clicked away.  The next day, I returned it to the store, earning a store credit that I was now forced -- forced, I tell you! -- to spend.  On myself.

Luckily, the clerk had just put out on display an assortment of newly arrived fall jackets.  (This is one category in which I've long had no workable options.)  They had one in a size just snug enough to show off my gym bod and in one of my best colors, a deep sort of liver-y shade.  (It looks better than it sounds.)  I felt elated to have come away from this debacle with a wearable, adorable garment that filled a longstanding void in my wardrobe.

And then to be castigated for over-spending, for buying RTW, for deigning to mock my partner by choosing a garment made of a fabric so close to the one he'd recently bought for a suit for himself!  Well, whose apathy forced me to run to purchase store-bought garments in the first place?

And speaking of RTW, let me end by extolling their principle virtue: they are READY to wear.  One cannot wear a promise, or a pattern, or even a pile of expensive wool fabric (have I mentioned this fabric?).  But one can pull on a ready-to-wear garment for a photo shoot or for any other occasion, knowing that, even if the construction in inferior, even if the fit is imperfect, at least one is not naked in public.  

That would be too slutty, even for me.


47 comments:

  1. I had my suspicions about Peter's tendency to embroider -- it's often the case with the textile adept. Thank you, Michael, for clarifying what REALLY happened. And I think your corduroy jacket is very becoming. Has the gauntlet been thrown on dueling jackets?

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  2. Michael,

    I am so happy that Peter allowed you to post re the corduroy jacket etc. I just knew you meant no ill with your purchase. It is also wonderful that you appreciate Peter's talent. He has advanced so fast he has created a contrail... BTW, you look great in your new jacket.

    There ARE people who do not appreciate the sewing done by a loved one. Even when the design and workmanship is superior. So, we sewists do feel under appreciated at times. It is always nice to find out our worries were for not. ;-)

    Cheers!!

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  3. What a pleasant surprise. Besides from now knowing the truth, well done! Michael, I enjoyed reading your post as mutch as I do when Peter writes.

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  4. Poor, poor Peter! He sounds so ill. I hope you make the poor dear some chicken soup. Perhaps he was feeling a bit delusional when he wrote his last post??

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  5. Oh how I'd love it if you started to write regular guest posts and set Peter and Cathy straight. Perhaps the newly turned European Dan should do the same over at the SS?

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  6. BAhahahaha. Sister Peter the demure. With all the leg he shows on the internet?

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  7. You're 45? No Way!

    I must frame my comment. I live in an area where there are too many 45ers who look 60 (or 80) and ride bicycles around town only because they lost their license one too many times and they look it. So, seeing you guys is refreshing to me.

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  8. Michael, thanks for setting the record straight. Even Peter's most adoring fans appreciate the truth, and I would know because I fit that demographic. Your sartorial preferences seem quite reasonable and I hope Peter starts sewing appropriately clingy, low-cut, short-short, and peek-a-boo items for you to model on this blog.

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  9. As much as we love and admire Peter, I think we are all aware of his tendency to present a one-sided view of certain situations. While I am sorry Peter is ill (get well soon, Peter), I am glad you (Michael) have been given the opportunity to present the "counter point" view, as it were.

    BTW, I like you RTW jacket, and I also appreciate that first word -- READY.

    musingsandmeanderings-mlp@blogspot.com

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  10. Seems to me as though someone owes someone an elegant dinner out.

    And a suit.

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  11. Hi guys

    I haven't read this post yet, but my immediate thought when I saw that Michael had posted a reply, was... I bet Peter wrote this

    that tickled me, I like the character development

    I'm going to read now,

    thank you!

    Hannah from Madrid

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  12. If Peter offers you a weekly guest post spot, can we call things even? Alternatively, try that line of tape down the floor.

    Peter, Michael, and Catherine are all names of famous saints. COINCIDENCE?!

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  13. You are so funny. I enjoyed every moment. Sorry, still do not like the jacket.

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  14. LMAO!

    I vote for more guest posts from Michael. Hilarious. :)

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  15. No sign of the suit yet? I was wondering what happened to that.

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  16. Very informative post Michael, thank you for sharing your side of the story but obviously the stress has affected Peters immune system and now the poor soul is suffering. Either that or he's now allergic to RTW.

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  17. Michael,

    You should post more often. Your post is even more fun to read than Peter's are.

    Beth

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  18. (Note to self: no cupcakes for Beth)

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  19. Wait. Sifting carefully through your self-serving--albeit highly entertaining--excuses and explanations, I am forced to conclude one thing: you paid FULL PRICE for that RTW jacket! No wonder Peter is ill!

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  20. Loved the post, Michael! I like your new jacket, too.

    I can sympathize with the $100 worth of lovely wool fabric awaiting its turn... My DH's projects often suffer the same fate. I have 4 half-made shirts for him that got bumped because of another, more urgent project.... then another.... then another. Oops. As soon as I finish my current garment, I must bring out those shirts. (What was I thinking doing 4 at once?)

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  21. Very glad to hear from the Other Side :-).

    Most people do have a hard time understanding the demands of sweet old mothers such as yours, if their own isn't so attentive to detail. I'm in Peter's position, and have to remind myself frequently that I don't know at all how to deal with such, and need to take a clue from the one who's been dealing with that her entire life. It takes a while (and some slapping), to be fair.

    But I think you dealt with this admirably. Your exchange idea was obviously perfect, and it sounds like you did the whole thing stealthily enough not to cause unnecessary diplomatic ruckus.

    OK, it's probably good for Peter to have someone who can be more orderly about life in general. And can still put up with the vintage sewing machine collection in a NY apt, not to mention the piles of expensive wool. And it's very good for you to have someone whose mother won't throttle an unbuttoned throat. Even if he keeps you decent. So it sounds like a good balance to me :-).

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  22. What tanit-isis said. I was LOL, great post, Michael. And I like the jacket--good color for you. Hope Peter feels better soon!

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  23. Michael, you have some good points that ready to wear does have some virtues and it is, as you say, READY to wear. For my ready to wear, I usually go the thrift option as well.

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  24. Well said Michael, It's nice to know the other side of the story. Someone owes someone a suit and dinner (or 2) at a very fancy restaurant

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  25. Michael, what have you done to Peter? Have you tied him up and gaged him? Oh wait, that can't be it, he's commented... or is that you pretending to be Pierre? After all, you do have his password, don't you!

    How can you be so cruel Michael, after all he's created for you?!

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  26. I love jean jackets, and I think yours looks good on you. They aren't supposed to fit like a second skin! I also like the color on you. I also enjoyed your post, and I second the motion that you should guest blog from time to time, or more if Peter lets you!

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  27. Michael, I think I adore you as much as Sister Peter the Demure. :)

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  28. ROFL, nice to hear from you Michael. You are right. Sewists can be a PITA and want everything to be beautiful, but sometimes you just have to settle for some RTW in the wardrobe and jackets are usually it. The jacket looks good on you and you needed one. Ps. My spouse is a procrastinating perfectionist too. Also a PITA.

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  29. Fever dreams, I tell ya. ;) Which reminds me. I promised my sister a sailor suit for my nephew when they come in two weeks. Which means I need to get in gear and make it... so as not to have a pile of fabric and a promise whens he shows up!

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  30. As the girl promised the cigarette pants, I have to say that I'm Switzerland on this. There is excitement, adrenaline and anticipation for something so sorely needed; however, if this particular garment were available at a (reasonable) price and fit the way I need it to fit, I'd hand over the plastic in a heartbeat.

    You are lucky to have found a jacket that speaks to you. I imagine your having a special and warm feeling unlike any other when Peter sews just for you.

    I wonder if all the reunion kissing imparted countless germs?

    BTW - I understand why you guys love each other so much !

    - L
    - L

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  31. HILARIOUS! I LOVE IT! Please post regularly! Hugs from afar for P x

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  32. The cigarette pants, the cigarette pants....!

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  33. I LOVE the spat between you guys. Hilarious! I love that you appreciate each other, too. My X didn't appreciate when I sewed for him so I quit doing it. I'm with the many others that thinks Michael should write more often... his perspective of Peter's sewing, etc. LOVE you guys!! ~Kristen

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  34. Yay for a regular guest appearance! Beautifully written post and had me chortling throughout. I also feel it should be made compulsory reading for all spouses and families of sewers, so that they may realise that they are not alone... My own spouse keeps telling me that my diffusion range should be called NFY, for Not Finished Yet. Funny that I always finish stuff for myself in a few days, yet can I be bothered to make belt loops and a belt for the linen dressing gown I made him over a year ago, or hem the curtains in my daughter's room... for some reason not.

    Lovely jacket btw.

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  35. Michael, Lovely to hear from you! And I'm sorry to hear that it took a spell on the fainting couch from Sister Peter the Demure (snort) for it to happen. Yeah, we all knew there was some serious procrastinatin' goin' on, and it's fun to hear the back story. I think it's lovely that all your poor, dear sweet Mother wanted was these portraits, too.

    Anyway, I know we all enjoyed hearing the REAL story, and we do hope we'll hear from you again.

    And please give Peter our best. Didn't make it to the flu shot place fast enough?

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  36. I"m just not sure which of you I love more. Fun, witty, intelligent with great senses of humour. I do so look forward to reading MPB. I'm also available for adoption :-)

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  37. Once abunce a time on the way home from visiting the darling new baby girl granddaughter we stopped at a shopping center. I was strangely inspired to buy a pink seersucker dress. I HAD to have that dress! When I got home with it I remembered the pink seersucker romper set that Baby was wearing when we visited. I think I turned the skirt of that dress into a tablecover or something.

    Strange the things that get into our heads. I must go now and order a burgundy sweater I saw in the LL Bean catalog. Can't imagine where I picked up that notion.

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  38. Michael, Peter, you guys are just great....

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  39. Hilarious.

    Michael can you take over a little more often? I think we need your balanced view...

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  40. What a treat to hear from you, Michael! You and Peter both write so wonderfully, MPB is always my fave Google Reader item. And I feel your pain as a perpetrator of the "I swear I will make that for you...see, I even have the fabric!" myth. Or I should say, my children feel your pain. And I would totally work on those clothes I swore I would make for them except my local JoAnn's store is closing, so instead I will go and purchase more promises...

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  41. Michael, you rock. Dr. Phil once said, "no matter how you fry it up, there are always two sides to a pancake." Your jacket is fine, and tell Peter that everyone needs to do a little slumming now and then. If RTW is the worst type of Slumming you do, Peter should thank his lucky stars. Oy veh, indeed. ¡Caramba!

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  42. Excellent read Michael! I really enjoy seeing Peter's photos modeling his latest home sewn garment with you in the background computing or lounging on the couch. I tip my hat to you for your patience while Peter is lallygagging his way to sewing your wool suit. Take care and I hope to see you blogging again soon to keep Peter honest! :D

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