The scene is Starbucks on 40th and Lexington, and its about 11:00 in the morning. I sit in a corner arm chair with a soy latte (decaf) and a book (the cover of which I try to hide since I am embarrassed to carry it in public. All I'll say is that the author received fame from a reality show on MTV). Two women in their mid to late 20's walk in, scan for an empty table, and settle to my left. The taller of the pair takes an order from her companion, and returns several minutes later with two steaming grande cups. Eyes surreptitiously peering up, I can't help but study the clothing chosen by these young ladies. Though their faces reveal their age to be no more than mine (27), their outfits suggest at least 15 years be added to this estimation. I could be entertained for at least 20 minutes with nothing more than these ensembles to gawk at, but serendipitously, they begin to speak in a decibel that I (as well as everyone else in the store) can hear.
"I hear this judge is really really mean, especially to women," the shorter woman complains to her friend. The taller woman purses her lips in annoyance, gives an exaggerated eye roll (a girl after my own heart) and tries to explain "he's not mean to women, he just doesn't like when female attorneys wear pantsuits in his courtroom. But look at us! (She lifts her arms with ill-placed pride) We're dressed perfectly." Both women smile and sip from their cups. At this point, I have to raise my embarrassing book choice to cover the smile that involuntarily curls the corners of my lips.
The tall girl dons a polyester blazer in a muddy shade of taupe, in a size too small for her average shaped frame. The coordinating skirt (also a size too small) has been dry cleaned more often than its poly mate, so its hue is slightly more muted (but no less muddy). Underneath the synthetic atrocity she has chosen a plain white shirt, which would have been fine, except that the buttons are pulling, it hasn't been ironed, and the collar has a set-in stain (no doubt from an afternoon snack several months ago). Her shorter attorney friend is equally dowdy. Rather than taupe, she wears yellow. (Now keep in mind it is September, yes, technically still summer, and I'm all about making your own color rules, but some things are just silly.) The short woman's suit is her size, but no less polyester (and no less offensive to the senses). The best part of all is only revealed once my eyes can at last leave the suits and manage to reach the floor. Had the women been wearing sneakers, I could at least excuse them as wanting comfort, and surely planning on changing once they arrive downtown at court. But what I see has no explanation. Scuffed, square-toe, black, leather loafers with stacked 1 inch chunky heels. (They might have been the actual pair, not just style, that the Pilgrims wore.) I exhale an audible breath to resist the laugh that rumbles in the depth of my throat. Perhaps its not 'pantsuits' that this feared judge dislikes, but rather so much ill-fitting polyester that makes him irritable. I would be mean to women as well if they came before me in such costumes.