The Battle Axe toward the beginning of its reign over Toronto.

(Yet another email from Stephen to his missionary sister in Spain.)

Last week, you heard about my fabled suits. Today, you will hear about what I wore under the suits. How many layers deep will I go? Read on, brave missionary.

Let’s start with the white shirts. I bought these at ZCMI, as I did my suits. You would think that selecting a dozen white shirts would be easy—and it was. The Van Heusen display was on sale—a flock of crisp, wrapped rectangles lined up to clothe this humble servant.

The clerk who had fitted me for my suit had stayed loyally by my side and now informed me of my neck and sleeve size. There was only one question: would I grow during my mission? Should I prepare for the future by buying shirt sleeves a little too long? I had certainly sprouted plenty during the last few years and it was likely that I would continue. My Scottish blood won out and I purchased shirts with sleeves that bunched uncomfortably at my wrists.

Next, I hit the tie section, and here my constant guide, my fashion muse, my Virgil through the first circle of mission preparation, abandoned me. He claimed that he needed to take care of the tailoring of my suit, but I believe that, Jeeves-like, he intuited the hopelessness of my fashion sense and could not bear to witness the carnage that was about to ensue.

When I brought my selection to the counter, I believe he asked another clerk to scan the ties so as not to come in direct contact with them. And indeed, I had arrived bearing polyester and paisley: two of the greatest detriments to the spreading of the gospel Satan has developed.

As it turned out, I did not grow on my mission. My sleeves would have stayed bunched up at my wrists for two years had I not gotten in the habit of rolling them up every day.The only time I would get in trouble for this was when I went to the temple in Brampton, where the officiators were forever reminding me to roll my sleeves down.

One particular polyester tie turned out to be my favorite. It had an impressionistic floral print that went well with both my suits. It was also, as I found out, most likely forged in the fires of Mordor as it managed to weather the humid summers, bitter winters, and slobbery children of Toronto without ever looking worse for the wear. It even held up under my ketchup-centric culinary habits. I called it The Battle Axe. I believe this tie still lurks somewhere in my closet, brooding in the darkness and waiting for its next wearer to stumble upon it.