I put on my best suit for the funeral.
I have only one suit. In my business, I could do to have a couple, but maybe not. I’m a fucking entertainment writer. I make phone calls to rock bass players and country singers who play the tambourine. There are days when wearing a t-shirt seems like I'm trying too hard.
Still, the suit was the best I had, worn only a handful of times. It was worn once in 1999 for a wedding. Wearing that suit, I’d told a woman in a parking lot I’d fallen in love with her. She sped off in her truck right after –probably the smartest thing she ever did.
I wore the same suit at my sister’s wedding, my best friend’s wedding then at my wedding.
I wore it once to interview a dying blues guitarist. The man was about 70 and still having to play to pay bills. I thought he deserved better than to have to answer questions from a guy wearing a cartoon t-shirt.
The suit has been employed on a couple of occasions when someone has offered me a job I had no intention of taking. I’d worn the thing as an outward sign of my seriousness, of my deep consideration of their offer, but really, any job that would think someone like me needed to wear a suit to do his job wasn’t really a place I needed to be.
Still, it was the best I had, the best I could give my father, who would remember me better in the suit than my grandmother was capable of. Besides, she’d never seen me in anything more formal than a t-shirt and jeans.
At the entrance to the parlor of the funeral home, my father said, “You clean up real good.”
He repeated variations on the same theme for the rest of the day, which pleased me.
More than anything else, I’d dressed for my father, to show respect both toward him and to the woman who raised him. I wanted him to see me as a man, not a 40-year-old kid. I was there to help, to comfort, but not to mourn. I would do that on my own.
I was one of only a few suits in the room and most of the others belonged to people paid to be there.
My people are working class stock. I come from people who are autoworkers, mechanics, cashiers and clerks. My father was the oddball in the family: the teacher.
As it should be, we buried my grandmother on a rainy day. Sunshine and clear skies are a poor setting to bury people you love. Cold, gray rain came down in a steady pour. As a grim group, we made our way through a cramped city graveyard to my grandmother’s final resting place.
Words were said. I don’t remember them. A few people cried, but it was hard to make out who. I couldn't find it in me to cry in public, but I did have the suit.