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Fashion Faux PasPosted Friday, August 6, 2010, at 9:40 AM
Talk about the stares!
I really made a mistake this time.
People in my career are stereotyped as moving frequently. I like to say that we have active passports!
It takes me a couple of years to begin to settle in a community, although I must say that I've settled into Greencastle quicker than usual. There is a "twilight" period when you know you aren't where you used to live but haven't decided if you really want to live where you find yourself now. Once I do I try to decorate myself in ways that let me look like a native to the community.
And so, when the Putnam Inn decided to sell t-shirts, I was one of the first to purchase my very own. Once I wore one to a luncheon at the Monon Restaurant and found the staff "suggesting" that I needed to purchase a Monon Restaurant shirt, which I did.
Mind you, they didn't threaten me, they just heavily suggested. (Come to think of it, they've told me that they haven't had pumpkin pie since that meal ...).
So I have been very careful about which shirt I wear on which day.
Until last Tuesday.
Knowing that I had another lunch scheduled at the Monon Restuarant, that morning I dressed myself with their logo on the front and the back. The lunch went well and back to work I went. Then, late that afternoon a meeting I had scheduled was canceled and suddenly I got to meet church friends at our Fellowship Meal at the Putnam Inn.
I didn't realize what shirt I was wearing until too late.
My dilemma is one most know well. There is a stage in our spiritual maturing process where we compartmentalize our lives to the point that others might be very surprised about what we are doing.
And then it's too late. We're "found out."
You tell a racist joke only to look up and discover a good friend of that race was close enough to hear you. After years of lecturing your children on not drinking they see you as you're walking out of a bar. You are with your date at a restaurant only to discover your spouse's parents being seated at the table nearest you.
Losing a pile of money at a casino, you discover your pastor standing in the crowd with a look of shock and horror. (Don't ask what a pastor is doing at a casino ...)
We wear Putnam Inn shirts when we think we'll be in a crowd at the Putnam Inn and Monon Restaurant shirts when we think we'll be going to the Monon Restaurant. We may act one way with our fishing buddies while another way with our Sunday School class friends.
We want to fit in and be just one of the natives.
And eventually we'll get "caught."
I'm now looking for a Greencastle shirt or a Putnam County shirt. It's not that I'm going to quit wearing my other local shirts. I've just discovered it doesn't always "pay" to give away such free advertising when there is a larger community to endorse.
After all, I'm nearly a native in this land!
P.T. Wilson is the senior pastor at Gobin Memorial United Methodist Church, Greencastle, and is also the University Chaplain at DePauw University.