Duct Tape Tuxedo at the Naval Observatory

When I was in college my a cappella group, The Troubadours, landed a pretty epic annual gig at the Naval Observatory.  In case you are not aware, the Naval Observatory, in addition to housing the, you know, observatory, is also home to the Vice Presidential mansion, and every year my group got to go up there and sing for Al Gore’s Christmas party.  I think that the group stopped doing the party in 2001, because Dick Cheney hates Christmas, but for several glorious years we got to step into luxury and sing for the rich and powerful.

I recall the exciting feeling of putting on my loaner tuxedo from the university and heading over, black folder in hand, to impress the vice president of the United States.  My primary goal was, of course, to not make an ass of myself, but if you have ever met me, you know that this was not to be.  As soon as we arrived on the grounds and made it through security we were led to a heated tent where we were to sing for guests as they entered the party.  It was pretty much the same every year, and then afterwards we would get snacks and drinks and have a photo with the first second family.

One particularly icy and slippery year, as I was walking up the long driveway towards the tent area, I decided that it would be a good idea to play with Al Gore’s dog.  I forget the dog’s name, Shiloh maybe?  Or Milo?  It was a black dog I remember, or maybe it was just dark out.  Anyway, a bunch of us were playing with the dog, and somehow or other I slipped on the black iced driveway and slid halfway down it on my hands and knees.  It did not feel good.

When I stood back up I noticed that I seemed to be bleeding all over the place, and even worse, my tuxedo now had no knees.  They had been completely shredded off in the tumble, and so I stood there looking like James Bond after a fight with Tonya Harding’s goons.  Yes, I realized that this is an outdated 90’s reference, but I am telling an outdated 90’s story, so deal with it.

My friends and co-singers were appropriately horrified, and I was rushed inside to clean up my bloody hands and knees, but once that was done there was still the small problem of having to sing at a very fancy party and have my photo taken with the vice president in a knee-less tuxedo.  Grunge was a thing back then, yes, but formal grunge had not yet caught on in the upper political circles of our nation’s capitol.

What was I going to do?  I was in a panic, trying to brainstorm with my friends some sort of way out of my current situation.  There was no way to get a new tuxedo in the next three minutes, and this tux was not repairable.  It wasn’t like a small cut or tear.  The knees were gone.  I had a three to four inch gap in the middle of my pant legs.  Could I paint my legs black?  Maybe no one would notice?  Or perhaps it was so dark outside that no one would notice anyway, especially if I stood in the back row…

That’s when I saw the tape.  It was everywhere.  Thick black tape holding down all of the wires on the ground.  You see, this was a fancy party, and there were lights and tents and heaters all over the place, and holding the whole party together was black tape.  Duct tape?  Electrical tape?  Gaffer’s tape?  Who cares?!  It was black, and I needed it.  We ran over to someone working who looked like they had access to tape, and asked to borrow the roll for a moment.  We had just one or two minutes left before we were supposed to be singing, and so I went to work.

I started on the inside, because I didn’t want the heavy duty tape sticking to my throbbing knee, and I taped up the inside of my pants but good.  Then I moved to the outside and carefully hastily constructed new tuxedo knees out of the black tape.  Did it look good?  Well, it looked good enough to me!  I ran triumphantly to the singing tent to start the set, with no one being the wiser saying anything about my new look.

We finished the set, had the snacks, and met the vice president, and he seemed totally cool with my duct tape tuxedo knees.  Or maybe he just didn’t notice, because of how awesomely I constructed them.  Or maybe he was just busy.  There were a lot of people at that party.  Either way, let this story be an inspiration to you all.  When confronted with any type of sudden crisis, just fix it with duct tape.  It can literally fix anything.

My knees aren’t even in the picture!
Posted in Al Gore, Duct Tape, Singing, Throwback Thursday, Tuxedo.

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