At first, it was just a group of four gentlemen in suits.
“We have a private party in one of your rooms,” said one.
“The others are on their way. They will be here in five minutes or so,” said another.
I considered their neatly combed hair, and very much noticed their subdued red and blue ties that had neither neon orange or lime green in them. I examined their brown and black shoes, the polished toes of which just barely peeked out from under their cuffed pants, an office suite and more apart from the usual high-end sneakers and designer flip flops that are considered “business casual” in these parts.
Two women soon joined the group, both wearing tailored black suits and toting computers and very important documents in their Franklin Covey bags. They had neither surgically sculpted breasts (or at least I couldn’t tell if they had them because they wore blouses buttoned UP to there) nor extended hair. Oh sure, they had the highlights and the roots…wait, roots.
I know these people, I thought to myself. Don’t I?
They mingled over wine and simply poured drinks. They wore name tags, and each guest looked at these tags to seem like they were on a first-name basis with the other. They were ready to be seated without fanfare or waving of hands or use of the word, “Hey!”
“See that large group?” I said to the host. “I know them.”
“You do?” she asked, clearly astonished.
“Well, not literally. But I know them,” I smiled.
“Oh, but…” she was clearly confused.
“They aren’t from around here. Look at the women. Hell, look at the men!”
The host stared at them.
“Those are my people,” I told her. “The ones I left behind. I used to think they were the most boring, all-alike people in the world.”
“Well, I can tell they are kind of…” the host’s voice trailed off.
Kind of what? All-around conservative? All business? All about the dinner meeting? All about all the work to do later?
For years and years–for all my life, really–these were the only people I knew. By the time I left D.C., I saw them as uniformed hues of steel gray and navy blue set against pinstriped backgrounds, subjects for the perfect black-and-white-photo, with only the tiniest splash of color tossed in for visual interest.
Five weeks into my new hometown experience, I now merely glance at the spill-over cleavage straining against brightly colored jersey bodices, rather than wonder what the hell the wearers were thinking when they tried on these costumes at the crazy-priced boutiques. I barely giggle anymore at the men’s poorly spiked and overly gelled hair styles, but I continue to stare in puzzlement at the designer baseball hats they won’t remove and the wrinkled linen they wear that sometimes resembles shirts.
But here, in my bar, on this night, I stared and stared and stared some more at the dark blue and dark gray suits.
I have no idea where they were actually from. They could have been from West Palm or even Naples, for all I know. But I know this: they were my people, from a world ago.