Costumes and Uniforms

It’s ironic on a number of levels that I’ve ended up calling Salem, Massachusetts home for the better part of my adult life.  Most ironic perhaps because this Southern Baptist preacher’s kid who’s never been trick-or-treating now finds himself in the Halloween capital of the world.

True, I attended the odd Harvest Fest dressed as young David (of Goliath fame) or Psalty the psalter but never roamed my suburban streets in search of candy dressed as a bloody zombie or mimicking a pop cultural icon.

Today, my bread and butter comes from working the line at my neighborhood Polish restaurant, Cafe Polonia.  (You have one too, right?)  Usually, when I clock my 20 hours a week, I’m lord of the pieorgi pot.  This month, though, when nearly a million tourists are expected to visit my fair New England village, we’re all pulling double duty.

For me, this means some front of house (FOH) duties added to my plate and a uniform: all black.  Unfortunately, I gt the uniform memo late, and had to cobble something together using my existing wardrobe, which, it’s worth noting, is strung out between the basement of 14 Curtis and a Naples, FL, garage.

As I made my way through the articles of clothing I’ve managed to acquire and hang onto through the course of my life, I realized I generally don’t go in for uniformity.  Every piece had a story and a little quirk.

The black slacks I’m pretty sure I wore to my high school graduation and are tailored to my still remarkably slim figure.
The black belt I purchased from a cobbler in Cambridge, England.
The white pinstriped shirt purchased from a going-out-of-business Newbury Street boutique.
And the black and white suede sneakersI bargained for at Beijing’s Yashow Market.

Needless to say, I looked like myself wearing “all black,” but not much like anyone else.

Now the story is we’re supposed to wear costumes in the lead up to Halloween.

I find it hard to believe that I’m going to be any more successful (or motivated) looking like someone else, than I was looking like everyone else.  And, I wonder what it would be like to live my life swinging between these extremes.

Perhaps I’ll just tie on my utilitarian apron and represent the 99 percent of us who work for a living.

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