My brother, Gus, recently moved from Long Beach, Long Island, to Norwalk, Connecticut. My husband, son, and I have lived in Norwalk for nearly 20 years, so Gus asks us for recommendations regarding places to shop, eat, see movies, etc. He recently bought a new suit and the pants needed to be taken up an inch. He also had a sports jacket that he wanted taken in. So, when he asked me for a tailor’s name, I told him that I’d take him to our dry cleaner. Before we left, I scooped up a pile of my husband’s dress shirts to have cleaned there, as well.
Before we went to the cleaner’s, Gus needed to stop at our cable company to trade in an old cable box for a newer, HD version. After he came out of the cable company, we decided to make a trip to Walmart, after going to the cleaner’s. My regular dry cleaner was located on the opposite side of town, so I suggested to Gus that we try another one that was used by my friend, Nella. Nella swears by this cleaner and she has very high standards; therefore, I thought it would be fine. Also, it was on the way to our other destinations. Gus said that it was up to me.
So, we drove around until I located the dry cleaner’s, which I had only visited once before when Nella had to drop off some clothes. We carried in our stuff and I handed the woman at the counter my husband’s 23 shirts (that had been sitting in his shirt hamper for at least six months). My brother gave a few winter coats to a man behind the counter. Then he asked the man if he could have his pants hemmed. The man told Gus to change into the suit pants and then stand on a platform in the corner. Once Gus was on the platform, the man got down on his knees and pulled each of the pant legs down. He didn’t, however, notice that the waistband was hiked up on one side of Gus’s body. Instead, he took a look at the bottom of each leg and said, “This one is longer,” and he pinned up one leg with a safety pin.
I had just finished up with my shirt transaction and turned to watch the adjustments being made to my brother’s suit. Something didn’t seem right. I asked the man if he was going to hem both legs or just the one he pinned up. He said that he was only going to do the one, because the other one was fine. That was when I noticed that Gus’ waistband wasn’t straight across his body. It was the same time that Gus, alarmed, said, “You’re only going to hem one leg?” The man nodded yes, although I don’t think he understood the question; his English skills were very limited. Gus said, “I’ve never heard of such a thing!” I said, “Well, obviously, one of your legs is shorter than the other.” The man nodded sagely. Then Gus said, “I’m not having just one leg hemmed. That’s insane.” The man just stood there. Then I suggested that Gus should pull his pants up evenly around his waist, and that the man should re-measure the pants. Gus straightened out his pants, and the man took out the pin. The man stood back and said, “They are fine now.” “What?” Gus asked incredulously. He then looked at me. “Are they fine?” I said that they looked like they didn’t need to be hemmed at all. Gus said, “But they’re 32 inches in length and my inseam is a 31. I need them hemmed.” The man looked at them again. “They are good,” he said. Gus looked a little exasperated. “Never mind,” he told the man. “Just clean the suit, please. I just hope I don’t look ridiculous when I wear it on a business trip next month.” The man smiled benignly.
Then I remembered that Gus needed to have his sports coat taken in. I handed Gus his jacket and he put it on. It was very loose, and very baggy. The man said, “Looks good.” Gus said, “But, it’s too big.” The man shook his head. “Better too big than too tight. Maybe you’ll wear a sweater under it and need the room.” Gus said, “I am only going to wear a shirt and tie under it.” “It’s okay like this,” said the man. Gus shrugged off the jacket and said, “Great. Just great.” He exhaled loudly. “Just dry clean it, please.”
As Gus and I went over to the counter to get his receipt from the woman who had waited on me, the woman called the man over to her. She was going through the pile of shirts that I had given her. She pulled out a pale blue shirt that was splattered with dark stains. The stains were very large and all over the front of the shirt, the collar, and the sleeves. I hadn’t noticed them when I grabbed the shirts from the hamper. The man looked at me. “This is blood. Lots and lots of blood.” I said, “No, it’s probably gravy.” The man started poking his arm with his finger. “No, lots of pricks. Lots of blood.” “Okay,” I said, “just throw it out.” The woman gingerly picked it up and put it in a trashcan under the counter. As she went through the rest of the shirts, I saw two more that could be thrown out, so I asked the man to put them in the trash. As he bent toward the trashcan, the woman yelped, “Not there! Not there! Put them in a different trashcan!” Finally, we settled our business there and left.
“I wonder why she made such a fuss over which trashcan he used?” I asked my brother.
“Because the blood-covered shirt was in the first trashcan,” Gus said. “She probably wanted to keep that shirt as evidence. That’s how murders are solved. Personally, I’m more concerned about my clothes. Who ever heard of only hemming one leg of a pair of pants? And why wouldn’t he take in my blazer?”
“That is odd,” I had to agree.
“I don’t think he even knows how to do alterations,” Gus fumed. “They have no right to have a ‘tailor’ sign in their window. Why does your friend, Nella, like this place so much? Are you sure she goes here?”
“Well,” I said, “I think this is where she goes. And if it is, she spoke very highly of them.”
“Great,” said Gus, “just great.”
When we got home and told my husband that his shirt might be in the custody of the Norwalk police, he wasn’t amused. “Why?” he asked. “Because the cleaner said that it was covered in blood,” I answered. My husband rolled his eyes. “It was coffee. Remember when I told you that the coffee machine blew up all over me at work and I had to wear a coworker’s extra T-shirt all day?” “Oh, that’s right,” I said. “I remember now. But the cleaner thinks it’s blood.” “What kind of a cleaner can’t tell coffee from blood?” he asked. “Why didn’t you just go to the cleaner that we’ve been using since 1995?” Gus chimed in, “Yeah, why?” I had no answer. “Blame it on Nella,” I said.
Addendum: After Nella read this post, she called me and said that she hasn’t gone to this cleaner since it changed ownership two years ago. In the interest of not causing Gus’s head to explode, I think I’ll keep this new information to myself.