My father-in-law and I have a ritual that is now marking one year of faithful execution: Sport Coat Night.
Sport Coat Night is when Glenn and I get dressed up in sport coats, go out to some nice lounge (or restaurant) befitting of such attire (really good appetizers are a vital qualification for venues), and talk for between three and five hours about whatever suits our fancy: politics, science and technology, business, innovation, books, philosophy, ambitions, dreams and family rank among the most common topics.
This monthly event has been the backbone my getting to know and bond with the father of my wife. There’s a strong stereotype of having bad in-laws and the attendant malaise that comes with, so I figured there might be some serious joy and workability in being closely related to really kick-ass in-laws. I’m delighted to report that experience has borne this out.
Sport Coat Night arose largely from chance, stemming from my lax approach to getting a suit for my wedding. I put the task off for a few months, until finally getting around to it on Columbus Day weekend. (Those armed with a 2010 calendar will note that that has me first seeking my wedding attire about one month prior to the event: I confess, not entirely responsible).
As good fortune would have it, the Men’s Warehouse was then having a sale named for the holiday: buy a suit at full price, get a sport coat free, and another suit for $100. I took advantage. While recounting the apparent karmic reward for my delayed approach to vital apparel acquisition, my father-in-law chimed in to say “Hey, I just got my suit there! Same deal, I stocked up as well.”
What a fun coincidence. In that moment I somehow had the stroke of brilliance to name a fabrication. “Really? Well heck, whaddaya say you and I go do Sport Coat Night sometime?” I asked with such conviction even I thought that was a real and well established thing.
“Sport Coat Night, what’s that?”
Improv flowed: “Well, that’s when you and I get all dressed up in sport coats, go somewhere nice, and have great conversation over smart cocktails. Sport Coat Night. Whaddaya think?” In essence I’d just invented a catchy gimmick, shorthand for “Hey, let’s hang out sometime.”
Delighted was I as the incipient son-in-law to have my offer so quickly agreed to: we would do the first ever Sport Coat Night the following Monday, and I would be surprised and delighted by how quickly 3 hours passed in one-on-one conversation. I’m pretty sure he felt the same way, and a tradition was born.
Now, one year later, we’ve had 12 such occasions and it has been a consistent treat. I don’t know how or by what means we’d have been able to bond without this simple structure. It’s been the perfect excuse for getting to know my father-in-law. Now I just gotta figure out some reason to hang with my mother-in-law (I know you’re reading this, Cindy :).