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What Not to Wear



Mrs. Secret Asian Man said the other day “I hope you don’t mind.  I accepted an invitation to go hear Chinese classical music. ‘The Sound of Silk and Bamboo’”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah. I thought it sounded cool. We never go to these things and no one else wanted to go.”

“You wanna know why no one wanted to go?  Because it sounds like a nap. Have you heard Chinese classical music? It is sonorous”

So, three days later we head out from work a over to the event. She pulled out the official invitation from her purse.  The event was being put on by the Chinese Embassy and the home of a former president of Indonesia.  The dress code was “Lounge Suit”

“What’s lounge suit mean?  Is that more casual or more business casual?”  

“I don’t know”, said Mrs. S.A.M.

We rolled up to a very posh home and passed a woman in a long embroidered silk dress that looked very un-loungy.  

I’d left my jacket at the office.  I was, though, coincidentally wearing a tie I picked up in Hong Kong’s Stanley Market.  It was a more expensive one, too.  I distinctly remember picking it up off the 3 for 10 dollar rack instead of the 4 for 10 dollar rack. I hoped it made me look un-loungy.

We walked in and signed the guest book.  The lady there remarked, “Oh, you’re from the U.S. Embassy?  Will the ambassador be joining us?”

“Oh, no.  He couldn’t make it.  He sent us instead.”  That last bit was mostly in jest. I’m quite certain he had no idea who was coming.

We were early.  We mingled. We met a nice chap from a european embassy.  We met the father of a parliament minister. We met the head of the chamber of commerce. I was becoming only vaguely aware that this was a high falootin affair. All wore jackets or formal batik shirts.

The Chinese Cultural Affairs Officer walked up with a man in dark suit. It was the Chinese Ambassador to Indonesia.  

“Mr. Ambassador, this is Mr. And Mrs. Secret Asian Man from the U.S. Embassy.”

The ambassador looked at my Stanley Market tie with a hint of recognition, then held out his hand and looked me dead in eye and said, “There is some Chinese blood in you.”  

I could feel my throat closing.  He said it in the same tone the Darth Vader says, “Hmmm. The force is strong in this one.” 

And that was it.  My cover was blown. He said nothing else.  Merely moved to his seat and the program began with a warm and gloriously introduction of distinguished guests including from The United States Embassy.  

And it was at this point that I realized how many photographers there were, for they all pointed at us and would continue to do so for the remainder of the evening dousing any chance for a classically induced slumber.  If you google, “#HeDidn’tWearTheCheapestTie” I’m sure you’ll find us.

Clearly you can take the boy of the country, but not the country out of the boy.  I’m sure there were numerous other breaches of protocol and I’m looking for a crash course on finishing school and what not to wear or to wear.
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