Monday, May 14, 2007

Annual "It's Not Playing Dress-Up" post

I went with Mother to her favorite restaurant for Mothers’ Day. The restaurant itself is an ancient throwback to a time when French cuisine was escargot and Chateaubriand and a lot of other things people couldn't pronounce but thought were classy. That's the word they used: "Classy." Not "Yumm-o," or just "Mmmm." Back when Julia Child was Rachel Ray.

As I do on special occasions in facilities that don’t have drive-thru windows, I wore a tie and jacket. I was amazed at the number of loud-mouthed middle-aged goofuses wearing sport shirts and jeans. And that was just the moms. The bowtie, a sedate yellow-and-cornflower number that lightened up the blue blazer playfully, received a number of outright stares.
I still believe in “special occasions” and that adding ritual, costume, and gifts adds meaning and shows respect better better than a card. A jacket and tie is a “nice dinner with Mother” costume. Shown here is a typical, but not recent, example. And yes, the martini is an important feature of the ensemble.
Here on the Beach, (where the clean RedSox, Nascar: What a WINNING Combo! T-shirt is considered proper casual Friday wear) I admit a tie can be perceived as a costume, and many may find it confining, suggesting work. On board a ship, I wore slop trow and went barefoot at work; on land, I wore a toolbelt. And I enjoyed what I was doing, so I have no bad feelings about going barefoot or wearing ill-fitting clothes, or carrying tools around my waist. Or anyone else doing so. I also have no qualms about wearing a tie on a day off, in the proper setting.
I would never give anyone the hairy eyeball for wearing a uniform or other, appropriate, workplace clothing to dinner. These days I do however insist upon “shirts on, hats off” at the table. It’s hard to eat with a tricorn dipping into the salad, anyway. Although if you’re good at it, you can snag a few cherry tomatoes for later in the watch.
I hope all you mothers were treated appropriately, respectfully, and with the love you all deserve.

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