Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fitting In


Temple Valley, Tsurumi, Yokohama - The day here begins much as it does across the metropolitan landscape, on the runway. Like clockwork, every weekday morning I view a constant stream of people flowing up and down the street to and from the local train station. The first wave is construction workers, swaggering down the road in MC Hammer pantaloons with towels wrapped around their heads. Following behind come miles and miles of office workers stuffed into black business suits filing down the lane by the dozens. Next come students, boys dressed in their de rigueur 19th century European military uniforms, girls in either sailor suits or white shirts, penny loafers and skirts. Bringing up the end of this fashion parade is usually a couple of kimono-clad women on the way to some social function or work in some traditional Japanese restaurant or industry and if I'm lucky a couple of men in traditional garb also on their way to work in some traditional trade or art form. Throughout the rest of the day are sartorial stragglers of just about every brand, older women in long silk gloves, and young fashionistas and fashionistos straight from the hip streets of Harajuku. Then it all falls apart on Saturday and Sunday when it's not uncommon to see a thirty something businessman in paisley print pajamas and robe, shuffling up to the corner convenience store in his slippers to buy a pack of cigs.
I'm no clothes hound by any stretch of the imagination but I wouldn't be caught dead walking around outside in my jammies. That is until yesterday. As I got dressed to leave the house on a morning errand, I fished a shirt out of my drawer that I had never seen. It was brand new and so I figured it was left there by someone, perhaps my wife, for me to wear. Donning my comfy new shirt and a matching pair of pants I headed out the door for a morning jaunt down to the station flanked by countless others doing just the same. The new shirt made me feel good and put a little extra bounce into my step. It fit me perfectly except for the sleeves, which were a little short and somewhat loose fitting, but I figured that was the style. After many years in this exotic locale, I'm still unaccustomed to all the stylistic nuances.
That evening as I was bathing, my wife returned home and through the closed bathroom door, she asked, "Did you find the new pajamas I put in your drawer?" "Yes I did," I assured her. Panic-stricken, I jumped out of the tub and rifled throug the dirty laundry for the outfit I had been wearing all day. There on the label, printed in bold black capital letters, were the words "NIGHT WEAR." I had worn pajamas in public, and what's worse, no one even gave me a second look!

(Let's keep this between me and my longjohns.)

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