Here's a real nice rendition of a song I like even though I totally disagree with the advice it gives. But then I don't suppose whole generations would fall in love with a tune that said you should forget about wishing on a star and instead come up with a good, realistic goal for your life and then go out and try to make it happen…
The other day here, I told this story about how Henry Kloss, one of the giants in home electronics, personally intervened to help me solve a problem I was having with the Federated Group, the retailers who'd sold me one of his products.
You can imagine my amazement to receive the following message this morning from a fine journalist and my longtime friend, Joe Brancatelli. I've known Joe since well before the events in my story…
So welcome to the Twilight Zone…or Zero Degrees of Separation…
In 1982 I wrote a profile of Henry Kloss (who was a friend from my electronics-reporting career) for Newsweek. On one of the days I went up to Cambridge to interview him, he didn't pick me up at airport, but sent one of his employees. When I got to the office, he apologized and told me the story about this enraging call he'd just finished with Federated, which was his key California retailer. He explained he had to personally intervene to help one of his customers. I thought it was fascinating and wanted to get the name of the customer and do a follow-up. But, as usual with Henry, he was a bit scattered and he'd already forgotten the name and couldn't find his notes on the mess of his desk.
After reading your blog post, I realize you had to be that customer. And I remember this because I am still pissed 30 years later that I never got the story into the profile. (Well, that and the fact that they mangled my ending…)
If you follow this blog, you've no doubt noticed my life abounds in odd coincidences. Here's another one for you. Maybe I should just be amazed at all the coincidences in my life that don't happen…
You can order this now and you will receive it in a matter of days. The third volume of Walt Kelly's POGO: The Complete Daily & Sunday Strips is a reality. Copies have arrived from the printer and are shipping from Amazon and elsewhere.
I think Pogo is the best newspaper strip ever done and I am proud to be involved as Consulting Editor (basically, I consult with the editor) in the first-ever full, complete, chronological reprinting of that strip. What's more, I think Volume Three is where we get to the strips wherein Pogo got to be all that it could be…which is, like I said, the best strip ever. These are the strips in which we meet the infamous Simple J. Malarkey, a character who was basically Senator Joseph McCarthy rolled into one. When most of the press and the wheels of government were intimidated by McCarthy, a cartoonist was reducing him to a devastating animal caricature.
This is just plain brilliant stuff and don't just take my word for it. Ask anyone. And after you ask them, order a copy…and don't worry. After you fall in love with it, the first two volumes will still be in print and available. For a while.
Here's an article on the economics of running a delicatessen…in this case, Katz's in New York. Katz's is a great deli and if I lived within walking distance, I'd walk there a lot. But the cab or subway rides to and from wherever I am when I'm in New York make me think, "Gee, it's not that much better than the Carnegie…"
Yes, it's a Mushroom Soup Tuesday — a day of light blogging on this site — as Mark runs about and tends to matters relating to this Sunday night's big Tribute to Stan Freberg. You'd be amazed how much there is to do for an event like this…and I'm only one of three producers.
Hey, Neil Patrick Harris is going to star in a new variety show for NBC. I thought I'd killed off that genre. This'll be interesting because if that guy can't pull it off, no one can.
Here's a rumor from the word of late night teevee: There'll be a gap of several months between the last Late, Late Show with Craig Ferguson and the first one with James Corden. What will fill the breach? Guest hosts. Who will they be? Nobody knows yet.
Recently, I made one of the larger errors in my life. I habitually get my prescriptions from my friendly, neighborhood 24 hour CVS Pharmacy and I tried instead getting one, just as a test, from an online mail order service. I am now out of that medication because they haven't delivered it. For a solid month now, I've been calling every few days to argue with someone there. Here's how it goes…
- I call and am told I don't have the correct prior authorizations from my doctor. I tell the service rep I do. He or she tells me I don't. I give him or her the dates and information on the prior authorizations and the names of others in their department who previously confirmed to me that I did and that the pills would be shipped. They politely tell me, in those cheery ways that low level employees on the phone develop, that I am lying and/or stupid.
- I demand to speak to a supervisor.
- I speak to a supervisor. This person either (a) looks into the matter and admits I'm right or (b) tells me I'm wrong, whereupon I ask to speak to the supervisor's supervisor. At some point though, I do get to someone in power there who admits that I'm right, who cannot explain why the computer ever told anyone I was not, and who promises the medicine will be shipped out within 24 hours with their profuse apologies.
- Then it doesn't come. No one mails, e-mails or phones me to tell me this. I just notice that it doesn't come. Apparently, some person or computer in the Shipping Department double-checks and says, "Hey, he's not supposed to get this" and cancels the shipment. But no one tells me. I do not know why their system works like that.
- So once I realize it's not arriving, I go back to Step #1 and it all starts again.
I have now been to Step #1 seven (7) times. Yesterday, I got my promise from someone who seemed so smart and responsible that I think I may actually get it this time. But I've been wrong before…six (6) times. In the meantime, the CVS Pharmacy is open 24 hours and I usually only have to go over there twice and argue to get this prescription filled. It is not for Blood Pressure medication…but it should be.
I'm off to do Freberg-related stuff. Back later.
I'm no longer posting my once-annual diatribe about the unspeakable, inedible horror of Candy Corn. Since I gave up all candy a few years ago, I find myself unable to summon up any outrage about it. No, I won't eat it but I won't eat anything like that. (If you absolutely must read what I wrote, here's a link to a previous posting of the essay.)
In fact, I feel so indifferent about Candy Corn now, I don't mind posting a short video to show you how it's made. Trick or treat…
Less than a year ago, our friend Jeanine Kasun suffered a completely unexpected brain aneurysm. She was alone in her mountain home at the time and if she hadn't been on the phone with her friend (in the romantic sense) Stu Shostak at the time, I would have had one more obit to write that month. Fortunately, she was talking to him when it happened. He was at their home in Chatsworth and he quickly called for help and emergency services were dispatched.
Jeanine was in a coma for many weeks. When she woke up, she couldn't talk, she couldn't walk, she couldn't make any part of her body do what she wanted it to do. She had no memory and no ability to retain information. Eventually — thanks to good doctoring, therapy, surgery and sheer determination, some of that started to come back. All of that was made possible by the heroic and selfless efforts of Stu Shostak. If you ever had a medical emergency like that, you couldn't do better than have someone like Stu as your advocate and protector.
I helped him out a few times but it was 99% Stu arguing with doctors, double and triple-checking hospital arrangements, dealing with the insurance companies, being at her bedside and watching her back.
(One moment that stands out: Jeanine was well enough to receive and remember visitors one of the days when Ed Asner — yes, Mister Grant — stopped in to see her. While he was there, a rather inconsiderate doctor speculated out loud that Jeanine might not ever get any better…and he said this in front of her so she could hear it. I'm not sure if Stu or Ed spoke first but one of them said loudly to the other, "Okay, you hold him while I belt him.")
That thoughtless doctor was wrong, by the way. Jeanine got a lot better and continues to do so. She's doing so well now that yesterday, she was able — with a little assist — to walk down the aisle and marry Stu. Ostensibly, this is so it'll be easier for one to care for the other in event of another medical emergency. But I think it also has something to do with being in love.
It was a ceremony that no one present will ever forget. Stu, who used to do warmups for TV tapings, started things off with one of his old warmups. Jeanine entered on the arm of Stu's father. The ceremony was performed by Lauren Dow, who is the wife of Leave It to Beaver star Tony Dow. Tony was Stu's Best Man.
The audience was…well, I may have been one of about nine people present who can't be seen regularly on TV Land or MeTV. In addition to Tony, I saw Marvin Kaplan, Jane Withers, Wink Martindale, Murray (The Unknown Comic) Langston, Ed Asner, Rose Marie, Dick Van Dyke and his wife Arlene, Larry Matthews, Jackie Joseph, June Foray, Teresa Ganzel, Billy Van Zandt, Lydia Cornell, Margaret O'Brien, Jimmy Garrett, Larry Anderson, Francine York, Bart Braverman, TV writer Bob Schiller, TV writer Ken Levine, Hank Garrett, Sherry Jackson, Randy West, Shelly Goldstein, Jimmy Weldon and I'm leaving a lot of people out.
For the reception, Carolyn and I were seated at a table with the Van Dykes, Rose Marie and her daughter, Ed Asner and his daughter, Larry Matthews and his spouse, Rick Scheckman (my soon-to-be-unemployed buddy who works for David Letterman) and Shelly Goldstein. Ed did not punch anyone. Dick did not get to eat two consecutive bites of brunch without pausing, graciously, to pose for photos with guests. Rose Marie, who is still one of the funniest people on this planet, gave a hilarious toast/roast of the newlyweds.
I don't have much more to add except to say that a great time was had by all. Rose closed by saying, "I give this marriage two years." I hope she's right. And then I hope Stu and Jeanine get married again and have another party just as good as this one.
Marcia Strassman, who played Julie Kotter on the TV series, Welcome Back, Kotter, has died at the age of 66. Before that series, she had a recurring role on M*A*S*H and before that, a couple of popular records as a vocalist. Later on, she had some pretty good roles on TV shows and movies, including Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. I thought she was a really good actress with a great on-screen presence.
Okay, this next part is tricky…
Since I was a writer on Kotter, I have a number of e-mails from folks who are expecting a personal remembrance of this fine lady. I'm afraid I don't have much of one. During the time I was there, Marcia was extremely unhappy with her role as the wife on the series, feeling — understandably, if you saw some episodes — that she had nothing to do on it but sit around for a few minutes per week and laugh at Gabe Kaplan's jokes. As a result, during my entire stint on that show, she wasn't around much and never spoke to me except to complain about her lines or lack, thereof.
Oddly enough, I agreed with her. My then-partner Dennis Palumbo and I had almost no power on that show so we couldn't do anything about it but we both agreed with her. It's a not uncommon thing that happens on a TV series. As a show develops, the characters grow and the audience makes its preferences known. The producers realize that the "gold" is in focusing on Fonzie and not Ralph Malph or on Hawkeye and not Trapper John or just on the star's job instead of his home life. Concurrently on ABC, Barney Miller's wife was becoming a missing person on Barney Miller.
Actors have been known to leave hit shows — McLean Stevenson will do as an example — because they feel they're being wasted and that better roles await them elsewhere. Marcia, at one point, made it known that she wanted out of Kotter. Dennis and I were involved in discussions about what should be done about this. I recall one semi-serious meeting with the producers about having Mrs. Kotter die. That seemed too heavy for that series so instead, the decision was made (Evanier and Palumbo did not get a vote) to have Julie Kotter get pregnant. That way, someone figured, there'd be stories involving her.
I don't recall Marcia being too happy with that, either. She had some offers of juicier acting parts (we heard) and would have preferred to be killed off so she could go do one of them. She knew that even with a Kotter baby on the way — Julie eventually had twins — the series would still be 95% about John Travolta's character and the other Sweathogs…and at the time I left the show, it still was.
So I can't really tell you much about Marcia Strassman because I never really talked to her except when she was mad at the writing staff. If I'd had the chance, I would have told her that I thought she was a terrific actress who deserved better than you get when you're on a series and other actors get hot. I was glad to see that later on, she got to show the world she could do more than feign giggles at old jokes.
Around 1982, I decided the time had come to purchase a projection TV — one of those big, wall-sized jobbies. The Advent was the best-selling brand but there were a few dozen makes and models on the market. Which one to buy, which one to buy?
Fortunately, I had by then developed my foolproof, never miss, infallible method of determining which item of audio or video equipment is the one to purchase. It involves careful and meticulous research, a comprehensive understanding of the technology and specifications of every product, a full and exhaustive working knowledge of all the manufacturers, their track records and — most crucial — staying close enough to the industry to be aware of what's in the pipeline and will soon be released.
My method involves all of this. But you'll notice that I did not say that I, personally, do any of it.
No. What I personally do is to call my pal Marc Wielage and just buy whatever he tells me to buy. He does all that stuff. Marc is a highly-respected video engineer and author of countless articles and reviews that cover not only consumer audio and/or video equipment but professional hardware, as well. I've known him for something like forty years and I've never known him to be wrong about anything except, obviously, the proper spelling of the name "Mark."
So I called him, told him what I had in mind and asked him what he said was the easiest question he'd fielded in months. The answer was: "The Kloss Novabeam."
I replied, "Kloss Novabeam? Not the Advent?"
"No," he moaned as if I'd asked him if I could get decent TV reception on a G.E. toaster oven. "The Novabeam is the best projection TV out today, by far." At that moment, I'm sure he was right.
He explained to me that the Kloss Novabeam was designed and manufactured by Henry Kloss, a legendary figure in the fields of, first, audio technology and, more recently, home video. Among many other credits, Mr. Kloss was one of the inventors of the acoustic suspension loudspeaker, the high selectivity FM radio, the first audio cassette unit to employ Dolby B noise reduction, and the first successful audio product to utilize transistors, the Model 11 portable phonograph.
In the area of home video, he had presided over the invention and marketing of the original Advent projection televisions. Then he left Advent — reportedly, not of his own free will — and began marketing the Kloss Novabeam in direct competition. It was, Marc assured me, superior in every way to the Advent.
"Okay," I said. "Any idea where I can buy a Kloss Novabeam?"
"Only one place you can get it in town," Marc responded. "Go to Federated Electronics. They have the exclusive in L.A. But one thing — if you go in there, they're gonna try to sell you an Advent. They have tons of them piled up in their warehouses but they sell the Novabeams as fast as they can get them in."
The next day, I walked into the Projection TV section of my nearest Federated store and, sure enough, the salesguy immediately tried to sell me an Advent. Marc knows of what he speaks.
"I'm interested in the Kloss Novabeam," I said, looking around. "I don't seem to see one on display here…"
"The Advent is a very fine piece of equipment," he proclaimed. "It's the best-selling make. In fact, I just had a customer stop in and tell me how happy he is with the Advent I sold him."
"I'd like to see the Kloss Novabeam, please."
"Just take a look at this Advent. I'll put a tape on and you'll see how vivid the colors are, how bright the picture —"
"Kloss Novabeam, please."
"Oh, and the Advent has some other great features…"
"Kloss Novabeam," I said.
"Another thing about the Advent. It's real easy to get parts for them and…"
It was only when I started for the exit that he sighed and led me into a back room. There, sure enough, a working Kloss Novabeam was on display.
"We keep it back here," he explained. "If we had it out there next to the Advent, we'd never sell another Advent."
"Fine," I said. "I'll take one."
— only I didn't take one. I had it delivered. Those suckers were big.
The Kloss Novabeam worked just as Marc had said it would, which is not to say I ever doubted his counsel. The unit was in two parts. One was a big, six-foot (diagonally-measured) screen which took up an entire wall of what, thereafter, I could only refer to as my TV Room. The image was projected onto it from three lenses — one red, one blue, one green — mounted in a console that stood in the center of the room, something like a small coffee table.
For months, my guests and I would sit by that small coffee table and enjoy TV shows and movies blown up with amazing brightness and clarity. The only drawback was that, outta force o' habit, I was always pointing the remote control at the TV screen to no apparent effect. One had to remember to point the remote at the small coffee table since that, not the screen, was the TV set.
All was peachy until one day, about eleven months after my Novabeam had entered my life. Suddenly, its picture became dull, blurry and overly green. When I watched The CBS Evening News with Dan Rather on it, it looked as if Dan and the newsmakers of the day were submerged in a big vat of lime jello. And now that I think of it, if Dan had actually done things like that, he'd still be on the air.
Amazingly — for when appliances go kablooey, you usually discover the warranty expired ten minutes before — my Novabeam was still covered. I called Federated and they dispatched a gentleman who knew approximately as much about fixing Novabeams as I know about fixing a ruptured aorta. Matter of fact, in a head-to-head contest, I'd lay serious money that I could learn and perform quadruple-bypass surgery before this clown could locate the Novabeam "on" button.
"Gotta take it into shop," he finally announced. And it was not until he put the coffee table half (only) of my Novabeam on his truck and drove off that something dawned on me. I had not heard him say anything about bringing it back from the shop.
Indeed, he did not. No one did. Days passed and I saw nothing of my Novabeam console. And when I tried calling Federated, the following happened…
- I would wait on hold for 5-10 minutes before someone came on the line.
- I would explain my situation to the person and they would take down my invoice number and name and say, "Let me check on it and I'll be right back with you."
- They would put me on hold.
And that, by God, was it. #4 was me surrendering after a long, long wait and hanging up. Once placed on hold, I would remain there indefinitely, listening to tinny phone-Muzak. Not once did they ever come back.
I put one such call on my speakerphone and sat here working, waiting for Godot or a human being to get back on the line. Neither did. The first time, I admitted defeat after 45 minutes. Subsequent calls, I surrendered after 10 or 15 minutes of sitting there, wondering why a firm that specialized in high-end audio and electronics had such crappy hold music.
With each attempt, I would increasingly impress upon the Federated employee how I was always being placed forever on hold when I called, never to return. Each time, the person on the other end would assure me that they would be right back with me. They would then put me on hold and immediately retire and move to Florida — or something of the sort.
Finally, I had to act. I phoned Wielage again and asked him what to do. He gave me the phone number in Massachusetts of a Vice-President of the Kloss Novabeam Company. I called and explained the situation to the man who said, "Let me put you on hold…"
I yelled into the phone, "DON'T PUT ME ON HOLD! I never come back from there!"
But he swore he'd return…and that turned out to be a fib. I never spoke to that man again. However, less than a minute after he'd sent me to Limbo, someone else came on the line and said, "Tell me the problem."
I asked, "To whom am I speaking, please?"
"Kloss," the man said. "Henry Kloss." Well, that was impressive.
Amazed I'd reached the Head Honcho so quickly, I blurted out the story. I got as far as the third or fourth time they left me twisting in the wind on hold when he interrupted: "How long did they make you wait?"
I told him. He sounded politely skeptical. "You sure you're not exaggerating?"
"Mr. Kloss," I said, "I will give you the number and my invoice data and you call them. Pretend you're me and see what they do to you. But you might want to send out for pizza first."
"I've got a better idea," he said. "You call and I'll listen in. Give me the phone number." I did and he switched us over to three-way calling and dialed the service number of Federated Electronics. It was like I was phoning them again but he was eavesdropping.
A cheery young lady only kept me on hold about two minutes before taking down all my data, saying "I'll be right back" and putting me back on hold, where she thought I belonged. As we listened to the bad music, I said to Mr. Kloss, "My phone has a little timer. It's now been two minutes and —"
He interrupted. "— and forty seconds. I'm running a stopwatch on it." We made idle chit-chat about how much, apart from this, I loved my Novabeam…and we waited. And waited. And waited some more.
How long they would have left us there, we'll never know. After five minutes, Henry Kloss said, "This is unacceptable" and hung up on them. I was still on the line, feeling vindicated in my claim. He then told me, "Okay, just listen" and made another three-way call. This time, it was his turn to talk, mine to snoop.
I shall now attempt to re-create that call. I do not recall the name of the executive involved and I'm cleaning up the language but otherwise, this is pretty much what was said. The first voice you hear with be that of the switchboard operator…
WOMAN #1: Federated Electronics.
KLOSS: Peter Johnson, please.
WOMAN #1: One moment…
(short pause, bad music)
WOMAN #2: Peter Johnson's office.
KLOSS: Let me speak to Peter. This is Henry Kloss.
WOMAN #2: Mr. Kloss, Mr. Johnson is in a conference at the moment. Can he get back to you?
KLOSS: No. Interrupt his conference. No, wait. First, I want you to take down some information. Mark, give her your name, invoice number, all that stuff…
(I quickly furnish the requested info, then I shut up.)
KLOSS: Okay. Now, interrupt his conference. Tell him Henry Kloss is on the line and I'm furious and he'd better take my call right this minute if he knows what's good for him.
WOMAN #2: (a bit shaky) I'll tell him.
(another short pause, more bad music)
JOHNSON: (dripping with friendliness) Henry! How the hell are you?
KLOSS: Furious, that's how the hell I am. Two months ago, a customer named Mark Evanier had his Novabeam picked up by you for servicing and he's never seen it, never heard a word from you. When he calls up to inquire, you put him on hold and ignore him.
JOHNSON: Oh no, we don't do that…
KLOSS: You just did it to me.
JOHNSON: Well, we've had a little shortage in the service division…
KLOSS: That's not my problem and it's not his problem. I want him to get his Novabeam back immediately. Your secretary has all the information.
JOHNSON: I will personally look into it and make sure he gets it back in the next few days.
KLOSS: No. Not the next few days. You've had it for two months. You don't get a few more days. I'm phoning Mr. Evanier in one hour. If he does not have a working Novabeam in his home, I'm canceling every damn contract I have with you. I will not have my products sold by a company that treats a customer like that. My name is on that product.
JOHNSON: Henry, be reasonable. We may not be able to find of fix his Novabeam in an hour…
KLOSS: Then give him a new one. At your expense. Now, you have one hour. Goodbye.
He clicked off that call, then directed his attention to me. "Talk to you in one hour," he said. And he hung up.
Fifty-four minutes later, I heard a squeal of tires outside. I opened my door and two men were sprinting up my front walkway with a brand-new Kloss Novabeam. They were just hooking it up and testing the picture when the phone rang again. The entire conversation went as follows — and this one, I am quoting verbatim:
KLOSS: This is Kloss. You got it?
ME: I got it. Thanks.
KLOSS: Call me personally if you have any trouble in the future.
And with that, he clicked off and I never had to call him again. His product served me well for about another ten years…and while that's not as long as I might have liked, it did manage to outlive the Federated Electronics chain. Gee, I wonder how a big company like that could possibly go out of business.
- I tried to watch the new YouTube series with Harry Shearer as Richard Nixon but 18 and a half minutes of it were missing.
The other day I heard some Talking Head on CNN puzzling over why, if Congress has an approval rating two points below Ebola, so many of us will soon re-elect our same Congressperson. I don't see why that's such a mystery. We may hate the institution as a whole but we can only vote for our guy or gal and we may well be satisfied with him or her.
More to the point, we may be satisfied with the party he or she represents. I'm a Democrat and while there was a time in the past I could and did vote for Republicans, I don't think that could happen today. Today, for a Republican to get my vote, a candidate would have to move to the center in a way that would probably make him or her unpalatable to too many Republicans. You can't win an election in this country when you lose votes from your party and count on members of the opposition party.
And even if a Republican did say the things that might get me to vote for him/her, what are the chances of that person going to Washington and not toeing the party line? Or having any power?
Now, if it turned out that the Democratic candidate had a history of felonies and sex crimes…well, I'd probably vote against that person or perhaps not vote for anyone. But in the absence of something like that, I'm kinda stuck voting for the Democrat. If I want to vote for someone who has a chance of winning, at least.
(I understand the premise of voting for Independents but I don't think it works, at least at the Congressional level. I don't think it sends a message to anyone. I don't think it empowers future candidacies. I think it has the same impact as not voting and I wish that wasn't the case. And anyway, there are no Independents on my ballot in this election — not for Congress, not for Governor, not for Lieutenant Governor, etc.)
So: My choice on this ballot is the Democrat or the Republican. If the Democrat was still Henry Waxman, I'd vote for him because I was actually quite happy with Henry Waxman. I told pollsters I had a low opinion of Congress but I had a high opinion of Henry Waxman.
Since it's now Ted Lieu running with the "D" after his name, I'm voting for Ted Lieu. His G.O.P. opponent, Elan Carr, has a very vague platform that suggests he's for a lots of things that Democrats oppose but is trying not to admit that in a heavily-Democratic precinct. My guess is he has about the same chance of winning as I do…and I'm not even running.
And if he did win, he'd go to Washington and vote the way the Republican leadership told him to vote. That's kind of what I'm voting against. I'm against giving them another vote in Congress.
I don't like any of this. I'd like to think I could vote for a person who'd cross the aisle and side with the other team when they're right, as other teams sometimes are. But I don't think there is such a person on my ballot so I have to just vote the party. Which is what everyone does these days, which is why we keep sending the same people back to a Congress we hate.
I just set the ol' TiVo to record Michael Feinstein at the Rainbow Room, a new special that debuts on PBS on October 31. I have a little preview of it for you.
It's always nice to see masters of cabaret performing like Mr. Feinstein and his guests. It's also nice to see that the Rainbow Room is open and operating again. In case you don't know the place, it's a swanky supper club located on the 65th floor of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in Manhattan. The place opened in 1934 and for many years, it was the highest dining establishment in the U.S. and folks went as much for the view as the food, the entertainment and the chance to see celebrities.
It closed in 2009 for a remodel and some feared that was just "spin" and that the place would never reopen…but reopen it did, just recently. I assume they didn't remodel the pricing, which struck me on my one visit there — to hear Joe Williams years ago — as just as high as the Rainbow Room.
I also recall getting as dressed-up as is humanly possible when you're me and still receiving a withering, nose-in-the-air sneer from the maître d'hôtel, who seemed well aware his job description had two circonflexes in it. I actually said to him, "Don't worry. When the rest of my party arrives in a few minutes, they'll be better-dressed than I am." A man of great class, he resisted the temptation to say, "They'd have to be." But you could tell he wanted to.
I still have such guilt about that, I may have to get into my tux before I watch this special…