Mike Buzzelli

Humiliation, not clothes, makes the man

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We all make a few of our own rules in life. I have a list. We can’t name all of the various rules here. But I did want to share Number 17. Seventeen states, “Don’t wear shorts in a restaurant if they have linen tablecloths.”


You can wear shorts in a restaurant if they have plastic tablecloths or no covering. Of course, there is a caveat for plasticware. That way, if someone throws a bed sheet over a picnic table, I can exercise an exemption. Obviously, if there is a spork present, shorts are acceptable.


Several years ago, I was working the early evening shift for a production company in Los Angeles. They made all sorts of reality shows. Most of the shows were about people’s personal tragedies, but with better music and cooler graphics.


Since I didn’t have to go to work until 2, I met a friend for lunch on a random Tuesday. We decided to go to Great Greek, a restaurant in the Valley, just on the other side of the Hollywood sign.


My friend Henry had the day off. He showed up in baggy cut-offs.


We also over-ordered. Normally, Henry and I used to share the vegetarian platter (it was meant for two people). The platter came with a variety of items, but only two stuffed grape leaves, meaning we each got only one. I wanted two grape leaves.


It was 11:30 a.m. and the restaurant was mostly empty. While we were sitting there, the president of the production company walked in with a posse of his employees, i.e. my co-workers.


I was mortified. El Presidente was in a suit and tie. I was wearing jeans and a green T-shirt with Kokopelli characters dancing in a sacred circle (my short-lived hippie phase). It was Henry’s day off and he was wearing the aforementioned shorts. I got embarrassed for both of us. Henry thought it was hilarious I was so concerned about the co-workers at the other table, but he didn’t work there.


On top of that, the president, Gary, was a fitness nut. One Christmas, in lieu of a bonus, he gave us all three free hours in a local gym (where they proceeded to talk us into joining). He was health-conscious; I never said he was generous.


I was additionally mortified because Gary watched as two large platters came to our table. More food than the five of them had on their whole table. I could feel him sitting back there judging me. It was the most uncomfortable meal I ever had. Except it was delicious, especially the stuffed grape leaves.


I’d like to tell you that I never over-ordered ever again. That’s a lie. I’d like to tell you that I believe that how someone else dresses in my company in no way reflects anything about me. Unfortunately, if it’s true, I’m not “there” yet.


I want to be one of those people who could go out to dinner with someone in clown pants, giant shoes and a bulbous red nose and think nothing of it. I’m ashamed to say I still care what other people think of me. I know, in my heart, that we could probably all benefit from caring a little less about what other people think, but I’m still wearing long pants to nice restaurants.


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