"White! You can't have white! It ruins it!"
I've become enough of a regular at my tailor that the chief of the place now comes out and discusses and hangs out with me while I'm getting fitted. She's a kind, creative, and highly intelligent Chinese woman, perhaps in her late 40's or 50's..
I'm flattered - this shop handles lots of business, and the first half dozen times I came I dealt only with sales staff. Apparently I've introduced enough people to the shop and get enough here that I'm getting personal consideration - and it looks like the quality level has moved up even higher.
...but she doesn't like my plan for white detailing on my red coat.
"Look, this coat is beautiful... it's very nice... but I also want something, umm, very different? Not normal, you know? Iconic, even? That means doing something different."
I got an all red coat, but I asked for the shoulder straps, belt, buttons, and detailing to be a mix of white cloth and silver metal.
"No, white is no good. Go all red."
"I want something funky."
"Go with black, then!"
That was my first thought, as well. Black would look good with red. But...
"Look," I say, "I'm American. We can't wear long knee-length coats that are red with black trim. It's, umm... it's a World War II thing. Looks too Nazi."
She looks at me, confused, almost stunned. "Black will be beautiful with red."
"Yeah, I agree in theory... but umm, how do I put this? You know in World War II, there were the Nazis, and everyone hates them? Their colors were like that."
She doesn't understand.
"You know? Germany? While you guys were fighting Japan? We were fighting Germany. Nazis. Red and black. Can't wear it."
She doesn't get it.
I draw a circle in the air against a wall. "See that? That's a sun..." I rapidly mime sunburst gestures off of it. "Sunburst? Beautiful, right?" I do a rectangular flag like motion. "But see! That was Imperial Japan's flag. So no one can ever use that symbol for a while, because everyone hates it." A couple salespeople around have sneered at the Japan reference. People of age 35 and older pretty universally dislike Japan here.
"So yeah... Americans, we dislike Nazis the same way."
She still looks confused. Maybe she doesn't know the word Nazi?
I put my left finger to my nose pantomiming a goofy mustache, snap my feet together, and extend my arm upwards.
"Ahh!" see says. "No Hitler!"
I laugh. "No Hitler, yes. Americans can get away with kind of sort of dressing like Lenin, but we can't dress like Hitler."
She laughs. "Okay. Red and white."
I nod. Red and white.
I wear black and red all the time, I think you are worrying too much. It would look good on you. I think it is really awesome that a) you have a personal tailor and b) you have the nerve to pull of a suit that red.
I can see why you get a discount.
Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't red-and-black the English palace guard uniform? I think the red-and-black as clothing colors will not be perceived as Nazi, as people associate jackbooted-all black Waffen SS-like outfits as Nazi and those are thoroughly used by American SWAT teams these days.
How are you doing? Just a quick comment: I don't think it would be a problem to wear a red coat with black detailing... I'm German, and we learn about Hitler about a million times in High School etc., and - well, I didn't have the association red/black coat = nazi. Taking aside real nazi badges/symbols (which in Germany are illegal), one thing that's supposed to mean you're 'neo-nazi' is wearing black steel-capped boots with white bootlaces. Clothes are neutral, as long as you don't write nazi slogans on them.
I reckon sometimes there are too many things going on in people's heads, they try to take too much into account, and because of that they see parallels others don't - and sometimes that creates more problems in their heads than actually exist. Or maybe it's just a cultural thing.
Anyway, nice hat,
It's like I'm not in a cafe any more, but rather receiving a diplomatic corps from a nation I'm at war with. The woman has a "stern and serious fucking business" look on her face, and another waitress is standing alongside her right flank with arms crossed.
I shake my head and try to wave them off, doing the universal "I'm on the phone" gesture, holding up a thumb and pinky finger.
She starts speaking anyways. She's loud and insistent.
"Hold on, Marcus."
I take my headset off. "Yes?"
My day is busy. Not your average “Oh, I've got so much to do before I can sit down and have a glass of wine at 8PM” busy. No no. Mine is more “Oh, I've got so much to do with the countries deficit before I can sit down for a meeting with the Ukrainian ambassador after I get my vice president to bitch slap the Senate around.” In being so busy, I don't really have a lot of time to personally relax. Sure, I could take a bunch of vacation days and retreat to Camp David but I doubt that's going to look good in the public eye. If I take one now, I might as well spend the rest of my presidency there because I won't be getting elected again.
But the one thing I've taken some solace in, is in talking to my personal Secret Service agent. He happens to be a friend of mine, from another life, and he's helped me do something that I hope all the other Presidents are able to enjoy. He's afforded me the luxury of freedom, despite being the leader of the most Free country on the planet. He's shown me a route, that can bypass all cameras and patrols, that will get me out of the White House without being detected. So, naturally, I might as well go to the one place that I feel most comfortable.
I've visited all of the homeless shelters in Washington, at least once. Some of them more than others, and they feel comfortable to me. No one really asks questions, no one talks unless it's mutually agreed. There's a quiet sense of anonymity, if you can get past the drunken ones who can't control themselves. Most of the times when I visit it's under the guise of some charity or donation, but I've been going a lot at night. Most are asleep then, with a few wandering the streets who were denied admission. They usually crash nearby, stuck in the cold and rain.
And I can see one now. Even from across the street, I can hear him grumbling. The wind ripping past me didn't drown out his sorrows at all. Maybe he needs someone to talk to, I've always had a good ear for peoples woes. Crossing the street isn't exactly difficult now, with few cars roaming the pavement. I closed the gap as quickly as possible, trying to limit the amount of time my face could be visible. A president wandering the streets at night doesn't need any extra attention.
The first thing that caught his eye was my shoes. I've always considered them an indicator of someone status, and I guess he did too. That or my shoes reflecting the streetlights managed to blind him. “How are you doing?” I said, pulling my coat up around my neck. “They wouldn't fuckin let me in.” He grumbled back, looking up at the window. He picked up a rock and threw it, missing by some considerable margin. He went back to staring at the ground.