When I was young, I was taught that with age comes respect.
That meant as a kid I called people who were older than 25 Mr. and Mrs. It also meant that I was taught to be less than honest. I mean really I couldn’t imagine telling my grandma she had a booger showing in her nose. I just looked away because it was so gross hoping that she would have to go to the bathroom or something.
I love Dress Barn. The 20s something clerk helped me pick out all the right dresses and fashion accessories so that I wouldn’t look like the oldest one in the office. – Just get the respect. You see where this is going?
I wore my first new outfit to work the next day – brown pants, shirt and a beautiful wool jacket with a fluffy collar. All the women oohed and ahhed when I walked to my office. I spun around proudly modeling as I walked to my office. Their admiration was palpable. Feeling buoyed by their enthusiastic response to my new wardrobe choice, I stopped at the doorway of my fellow consultant, and said, “What do you think, Jon? Do you like my new outfit?”
He was silent longer than I thought was necessary for a simple, “Wow I love it! You look great,” which honestly was what I was expecting. Finally he gave his opinion, “Well……,”more pausing. I lost my sexy, hand on hip, other hand flipping my hair stance, and should have walked away at that point. “It’s brown,” he finally finished lamely.
Yes, that was lame, but the rest of the office heard my fashion critic, and I’m sure our laughter could be heard in the basement.
The next day I walked in with, what I thought was my best outfit. My green sweater dress was accented by a full length gray knitted vest with, yes a fluffy collar that went down both sides of the front the full length of the sweater. The fluff even had dangly things woven in that subtly caught the light. I felt like a glamour queen. Again, the women complimented me, and again I twirled, avoiding Jon’s office this time.
Later in the day another consultant approached my door, and asked me to come to his office. We have unspoken rules of etiquette in our office. When another consultant comes to you and wants to talk, even if you are presenting to 600 people in 15 minutes, you stop what you are doing, and invite them to sit down and tell you what’s on his or her mind. I followed him to his office.
“Close the door, and sit down,” he instructed seriously, and before I could even worry about what was going wrong in the office – and worrying is my default mode – he added, “Has anyone talked to you about your colors?”
Glenn is always up to something, so, of course I lied, “NO!”
“Well, someone should!” I couldn’t believe I was hearing this! This went against every grain of respect my parents had drilled into my well-ordered life. Glenn is at least 3 years younger than I am – how could he???
But he continued pointing at a picture on his bookcase, “Do you see that picture of my wife? That is my favorite picture of her, and do you know why?” Actually his wife is my good friend – everybody’s good friend, and she is adorable, why wouldn’t that be his favorite picture? She looked like she was about 20.
He was getting passionate. “I’ll tell you why! It’s her colors. She hates that picture, but I love it. Do you see what she is wearing? Pink. Do you see how great that makes her face look? My wife needs color. That color makes her look great!” By this time I’m sure everyone on Doe Avenue could hear his voice. “YOU NEED TO LOSE THE GRAY! I guess the green is OK,” he hung his head a little sheepishly, “but YOU NEED TO LOSE THE GRAY!” he jutted his chin back up, and repeated his advice a second time for emphasis.
By this time I was reeling. I staggered out of his office doubled over, and laughed as hard as I could along with everyone else within a 10 mile hearing radius.
There really isn’t a moral to this story. I sometimes tell it to loosen up an audience before I present. I try to wear gray every day during the winter – at least a bit of it. I get lots of compliments when I wear blue or turquoise – pink. I still shop at Dress Barn. But people can be blunt – even when you’re old enough for people to lie to you.