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I Turned To See If I Was In The Men’s Restroom…

I know ugly Christmas sweaters, Christmas pajamas, elven hats are all the rage. My wife has a few of these sweaters living in her closet.

I am not a Scrooge. I feel like Scott Calvin in the Santa Clause. I take on the characteristics of the jolly old elf more each year. Give me a red suit, a stocking cap with black boots, and in another decade I could retire to do seasonal work at the mall.

With each passing year, my beard is growing increasingly white, and if I add another ten or fifteen pounds, I might make some extra cash for the holidays. Anyway, I am getting off subject.

I walked into the restroom at J C Penney’s and had to do a double take to make sure I was in the Men’ Room.

Relax I am not going on a rant about restroom politics. This story is about my spontaneous reaction to this particular situation. Besides, I have had enough of who should or should not use what restroom on Facebook. I can click over there if I need the additional stress.

My point is that we don’t even realize how conditioned we are by our societal mores, peer pressures, groupthink. My initial reaction revealed to me that I am not as ENLIGHTENED as I would like to think.

Like many restrooms, this one is a mini maze hiding where the business transactions are conducted. Directly to the left attached to the wall is a changing table.
My master plan: rush in to take care of business, head back to Starbucks for my afternoon fix, then back to work.

I round the corner, the first thing I see blinding me like police lights in the rear view mirror is a BRIGHT RED Christmas sweater decked with all the appropriate elves, reindeer, Santa head and white Christmas pajamas with RED patterns.

I wondered if this person is possessed by all three Christmas ghosts — past, present, future and possibly even one from another universe — dressed like a Christmas <?????> while changing a child on the table. The baby’s head and feet were barely visible on each side of the person’s body.

A moment of confusion hit me — could be age — I immediately assumed it was a woman. Not because this person was changing a diaper but because of how they were dressed. Without thought, I concluded it was a woman.

So, I paused, jerked my head around to see, and YES, printed boldly on the door was MEN’S with a little picture to reinforce it. So I resumed entering. Curiously trying to determine who was on the other side of that sacred horrid holiday ensemble.

Because I am staring all the way to stalls, HE looked at me with suspicion. Yes, it turned out to be a young man.

He was probably thinking, “Why is that creepy old man staring at me?”

In my fifty plus years, I have never seen a man dressed from head to toe in said attire. Well, except maybe on the Hallmark Channel during the 24 hours/ 7days a week of Christmas starting at 0001, November 1st ending at the New Year’s day.

Now, I am no fashion maven. But what he was wearing put the UGLY in Christmas attire. I think he was fully aware of it too.

Sorry ladies, I have never seen a man wearing pajamas in public. Let alone, ugly Christmas pajamas. Who knows? Maybe, I live a sheltered life.

My attitude is Live and let live. As long as this man was not running through the mall naked and wielding a bloodied knife, I’m good.

I sensed the young gentleman was self-conscious about his wear. He put the baby back in the stroller. The had dressed her in the cutest little elf costume. The dim lights started to brighten. JC PENNEY’S PORTRAITS — they are getting family Christmas pictures made.

He looked at me with those sad men eyes they get when they are doing something that puts their man card in jeopardy. I believe wearing ugly Christmas outfits is frontier pioneer territory for most men and is not yet man approved.

I could only assume that out of love; he made the ultimate sacrifice. He did a testosterone dump as a sacrifice of love to make his special lady happy.

At that moment, I understood completely. We connected.

I smiled at him and broke the ice, “How old is your baby?”

Let’s face it; nothing is an icebreaker like asking about someone’s child. We long to talk about our little ones. Facebook, Instagram servers are at capacity with photos of children, grandchildren, and cat pictures.

Grinning ear to ear, he responded, “She is five months.”

I mentioned how cute she was as an elf.

I said, “I am beyond the child-rearing stage, I have seven grandkids, and the youngest is eighteen months.”

We finished washing our hands then exited with me right behind them.

Sure enough, there was a woman dressed in an ugly Christmas ensemble browsing through hair products while waiting on him. I recognized her immediately. She was the female version of him pointy elf hats, elf shoes and all. He called to her.

What a lovely vision and fond memories to joke about and laugh many years from now. At least that is my hope for them. My wish for the young couple is that they survive love though long tested.

I fell in love with Mi Amore again just the other day.

An older version of the mother who I assumed was Grandma. I am sure she was bankrolling the operation. At least, that is how it seems to work for grandparents.

I mused over my reaction while heading to the Starbuck’s kiosk for a quad espresso then back to work. Next time I see a person decked out in ugly Christmas attire, I won’t automatically assume it is a woman.

Ironically, that evening, Mi Amore and I went over to my sons to watch the younger three children. My son, DIL, and oldest grandson were going to youth activity at their church. All three had dressed in ugly Christmas sweatshirts and PJs for the event.

The old Bob Dylan song came to mind “the Times They Are A-Changin.”
I am reminded that fashion trends come and go. Don’t let petty things like clothing styles, hair, and other superficial things interfere with the deeper connections of the heart.

P.S. I am still holding out. NO UGLY CHRISTMAS SWEATER FOR ME.

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