Monday, July 02, 2012

Order in the Court! Order in the Court!

As I sit here writing this post, it’s a very hot Sunday in Boston. I’m at The Writers’ Room, which is the downtown financial district, about a mile or so walk from my home.

When I come to The Room, I’m not dressing for work. I typically have on jeans and a sweater (winter) or cropped khakis and a shirt (summer).  It’s not what I would wear to a client’s, but it’s not what I’d loll around the house wearing, either. It’s one step above house-loll.

That’s because, if I’m going into a quasi-office, and it’s in the middle of a financial district, I don’t want to look like I’m just heading to the kitchen to grab a Skinny Cow out of the freezer while the new pitcher’s warming up. And I don’t want to look like a tourist.

Not that there’s anything wrong with looking like a tourist. This town’s full of them and I say, bring ‘em on. And when it’s 86 degrees out, I really don’t expect them to be walking around in business casual. You’re on vacation: shorts are fine. (Although I will say that some of the heftier tourists would keep their cool much better if they swapped out their shorts and tees for a kaftan or muu-muu. And while I’m on the subject, ain’t no one over the age of twelve who looks good in anything to do with Winnie-the-Pooh, especially if you share your BMI with him.)

What got me thinking about what to wear where was seeing an article in The Huffington Post on a court reporter in New Zealand who showed up to cover a laura mcquillanmurder trial wearing skin-tight gold glitter pants.

A murder trial!

Is there nothing that’s taken seriously any more?I can see this sartorial splendor for a Kardashian divorce hearing. Or a Lindsay Lohan anything. But for a murder trial?

No, no, a thousand times no.

But I could have seen this coming as far back as 1979, when someone showed up at my Uncle Charlie’s wake wearing a track suit.

I remember the ripple of shock that ran through the “parlor” at O’Connor Brothers.

Not that we were expecting “mourners” to show up in frock coats, or dramatic Jackie Kennedy bee-keeper-like black veils.  This was, after all, Main South Worcester.


By the way, I “quote ringed” the word mourner there because the jamoke who showed up in the track suit was Charlie’s more or less brother-in-law. Nothing surprising about a brother-in-law showing up at a wake, of course, but in this case, Charlie and his wife, after a brief couple of months marriage, had been separated for over 40 years. So it was assumed that the brother-in-law was an emissary from the not-quite-ex-wife, looking for something. (Charlie never got divorced because Catholics just didn’t do that in the 1930’s.)

With Charlie, unless  you count his collection of outré shirts and ties, there was nothing to be looking for.  But that’s another whole story.

No, the real shocker was that track suit.

Who ever heard of someone showing up a wake wearing a track suit?

Fast forward a couple of decades, and we would have been thankful if the “boy next door” had come to my mother’s wake in something as refined and respectful as a track suit.

No, he came directly from work, wearing dirty cut offs, work boots, and a sweatshirt.

Well, nice that he came and all that, but this was a wake, not a backyard barbecue cum beer blast.

(In retrospect, what else could be expected from someone who’s judgment was so foul that he ended up a few years later in a Federal penitentiary on a child pornography charge.)

I’ve also seen some pretty sketchy garb at work over the years.

The worst was when one of the techies showed up in flip-flops, cut offs, and a pale-yellow cotton shirt. Nothing out of the ordinary at this particular company, where business casual was elevated to a new level. (I should say de-elevated to a new low.) What was a bit extra-ordinary was the shirt. It appeared to be a pajama shirt, one with numerous holes in it, and what appeared to be numerous dried blood stains on the back.

The company shirt police – I was a deputy – informed N that the company-wide preference was that he retire the holey and bloody pajama shirt.

He did.

With all this, I am nonetheless a bit taken aback about a court reporter showing up for work at a murder trial in a get up more appropriate for Studio 54 in its heyday.

Perhaps the reporter, thinking she was hot stuff, was in mourning for Donna Summer.

The reporter was asked to leave the court

Though there are no specific provisions of what members of the media must wear in the courtroom, the Ministry of Justice asks reporters to "please attend court suitably and professionally dressed" in its media guide for court reporters.

Perhaps the media guide should have included illustrations.

Talk about a Glamour Don’t.

Oh, well, at least it’s something of a relief to see that it’s not just Americans who go in for slipping the bonds of good taste.

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