Before moving to Philadelphia I had never heard of the Main line. To this day I have never been to a real country club. Before last night I had never visited a custom clothier nor talked with anyone who actually lived in the Rittenhouse part of town.
I felt myself lucky not just to have been invited, but to have found street parking, thereby avoiding the high costs of the lot. I paused at the elevator to straighten my pocket square, these were people I was sure would notice such things and I was unsure how many little missteps would move me from not belonging, to being legitimately not welcome.
Upstairs I walked into a scene that was everything I could have hoped it would be. Central casting had picked the people, dressed them perfectly, chosen soft music, and decorated with the perfect balance of manliness and style. I should stop there before I slide too deeply into cliche’ and flowery adjectives that undermine themselves. It was wonderful. no, I should say they were wonderful.
My pants were cut just a little too long, they brush the floor when I stand. My shirt sleeves were just a little too short and the cuffs were hidden by my jacket. No one looked. Everyone I met talked too, not at, me. Not only was my point in attending not questioned, but I was engaged in real conversation. I was made to feel welcome.
Now hands down I was out of my league. I met an old money man named after a Norse God whose vocabulary and combination of words was so naturally deliberate that I was forced to actually think to keep up. I met a silver haired man who was so smooth in manner and style that it appeared I was watching a movie, but he was real. And I met Michael Muscarella, the clothier himself, and he made me want to schedule a return appointment.
I have no tangible reason to schedule a return appointment. I can’t afford, nor do I really need new clothes. I just met the man so I could have nothing of great importance to discuss with him. But he made we want to go back again. It could be the vintage prints of Philadelphia on his office walls. It could be the unfinished story about when he worked for Ralph Lauren. Or it could just be that he and his wife treated me like a person of value, when i was just a looky-loo kicking tires with no intention to buy… and they knew it. They all did. I even shared my own unfinished hypothesis with another party goer, of how it was a natural progression for the attendees of football games to slide from suit and tie to jerseys with another man’s name on the back. He took me seriously, as I did he, mostly because I saw he wore football shaped cuff-links.
I went out of curiosity, and for the cheese, then found I was enjoying myself. Perhaps I was enjoying myself too much. I was up till 1:20 am finishing up a precis’ on Thelin’s “A History of American Higher Education.”