In Which Our Narrator Takes A Fashion Risk and Makes A Fashion Statement

Last week, I figured that wearing a cape would be an odd thing to do. I found my old cape hanging in the back of my closet, and decided that I hadn't done enough to cement my reputation as "the weird one" at work in a while. In fact I was under threat of becoming normal. Ghod knows I can't deal with that.

So, after a dry run of wearing the cape at the Comic Shop and seeing how it looked and felt to wear for a while, I decided to go ahead and try it out for today. The first problem I had with the darn thing is that it is held on by a pair of strings that you tie together to keep it from falling off. Since it is a full black cape with a red lining, it's heavy and that gives the strings the mutant ability to slowly pull against my throat. It is as if I'm slowly being strangled to death by someone with very little arm strength and very long, thin fingers. This is not a pleasant experience, no matter what anyone tells you. And anyone who DOES like it is a right sick bastard and needs help immediately.

It's still warm enough here in the Twin Cities that I didn't have to get completely bundled up, so I got on the bus with the cape visible under my regular coat. Of course, it is a full length cape with a high, three pointed collar, so it is kind of hard to miss. Imagine this, if you will (or if you don't have anything better to think about) I have long (past shoulder length) brown hair with grey at the temples and scattered throughout. I also wear black most of the time. Today it was a black Kenneth Cole shirt, my black vest, black dress slacks and Dr. Martin boots and carrying my soft-sided briefcase. And a black cape with a red velvet lining.

Do I have to tell you that even though the bus was crowded, no one sat next to me? However, no one said anything. I wonder if they thought I was nuts, or if they just were stunned. Unlike most stories I hear about public transportation, the bus I take (from one of Minneapolis's more affluent suburbs) only has business people. Mostly women, who dress in painfully conservative clothes and read either romance novels or the latest movie spec'm sorry, "novel" by John Grisham. Most of them would look at me, and when they noticed I was looking back at them, then quickly go back to their book or stare out the window. The bus was packed, and yet, even though I was in one of the better seats in the back with a lot of leg room, no one sat next to me. Even the nasty seats that are up against the wheel well, with very little room for your legs, were filled. I liked that, and closed my eyes to get a little nap, undisturbed. I didn't even have to put up with chattering around me as I normally do, as people were fairly quiet around me. This cape thing is a good idea for the bus, and I highly recommend it to those of us who get annoyed on public transportation easily. Then again, I get annoyed by EVERYTHING easily, so maybe it's a good idea for me to wear it all the time.

As I got to my building, I have to ride a long escalator to the "main floor" and I always stop at the little convenience store to get my "Big Bottle O Soda". On the escalator, I got a few odd glances, and I noticed that when people were racing up the escalator behind me, they would stop, choosing not to run past me. In the store, a few of the bleary eyed patron would give me a second glance, and one older woman gave me a very big smile, but again, no one said anything. Not even the store owner, who always has a comment about the day's events as I buy my stuff, since I usually have a joke of some kind on whatever event he brings up. Today, he was quiet, just selling me my Huge Diet Coke and my Quik Pick lottery ticket.

When I made it up to my floor, I put my outer coat in the closet and the temp for our floor walked by. She gaped at me for a moment, and then quickly averted her eyes. No one else said much of anything, since I had told the other people who work in my little cubicle group that I was doing it.

One of the people on my team walked over to the printer and saw me and actually had the reaction I had been hoping for and hadn't gotten. "Oh my God!?! What are you wearing? Is that a vampire cape? Are you going to start thinking you can fly?"

"Not really," I said, "since most of the vampires I read about don't have that ability. That and being a vegetarian, I would make a pretty crappy blood drinker, don't you think?"

He came over and touched the fabric and complemented me on how soft it was. Heh. Silk. I never do things cheaply. If you don't do things the classiest way possible, why do them, right? Unless the JOKE is to do something slipshod, in which case, I will do that as well. Whatever has the most impact.

But I Digress.

And you should be used to that by now, as it is part of what little charm I have.

Normally, I would be stuck in my chair in my little cubicle for most of the day, unable to walk around, letting the cape flow behind me. However, today was the day for our all-department morning meeting. The three team leaders all looked at me, and one of them actually started laughing. My team leader said, "So, dressing like Superman, eh?"

"No," I said, stone-faced, "Superman has a red cape. This one is black."

We later had a discussion where he tried to cover his tracks by saying that all he saw was the red lining, but we all know better don't we? I was wrong about Superman's cape, though, since I thought it was blue. Guess I don't pay attention to details like that. I'm too busy looking at his big red "S".

The team leader who was laughing said, "No, he's dressed like Johnny Depp in Sleepy Hollow. We've got our own little Johnny."

My reply? "I have better teeth than him." Which is about the only thing I have in common with Johnny Depp. Although, if I can find the clothes, I will be dressing more like that, in a sedate, business-y way. Got to keep my title as The Best Dressed Man In Comics, now don't I?

A few other people looked with odd looks on their faces, but the meeting went on as normal. Well, I did notice that the Big Boss of our department couldn't take her eyes off me, and since I don't think she's looking for a relationship with one of her underlings, I think the cape was kind of weirding her out. But she didn't say anything.

When I got back to my desk, one of the co-workers I had told about the idea said that they were surprised at the SIZE of the cape. They thought it would just be a little one that comes down about like Superman's, not a fully lined, floor-length cape with the full Dracula set-up. So, I have decided to spend the rest of my work day wearing the cape, when I go to get my mail, get my lunch, etc..

I will take it off when I go tot he bathroom, however for obvious reasons. Let's not even think about that. Maybe I just won't GO to the bathroom today.

Oh, and one question I got e-mailed to me by a co-worker was "Are you wearing a vest today, too?"

Of course I am. I always wear a vest unless I am wearing a turtleneck. Vests are my signature fashion item. That, and they make me look as cool as it is possible for me to look.

So, what did I learn from my little experiment?

One, you can do all sorts of weird things, and people won't say anything. They will react, and try to make their reactions subtle, as not to show that they are reacting. I think it's because we are so conditioned to want everything to be conformist that when you do something that doesn't conform (as long as it is only one thing that doesn't conform) they will do everything in their power not to react in anyway. Maybe they feel that if they ignore it, it will go away.

Two, wearing a cape is like being strangled to death slowly by a very weak midget.

Three, a cape will get caught under the wheels of your chair unless you gather it in a big bunch and don't let it drape over your chair.

Four, capes feel damn cool when the wind catches them and they flow behind you as you walk. I have no idea why people quit wearing them.

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