Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Greg Behrendt Gave Me the Best Compliment EVER

"Cuz I feel like I have 39, 40, 41, 42 year old brothers and sisters who also rock. I know that I do, I know I do! I have seen them, tattooed and pierced at the Pottery Barn!" - Greg Behrendt, comedian

Short of It
  • Are those...?
  • Those are....?
  • Those are Doc Martens?!?!
  • Those ARE Doc Martens!
  • THOSE are Doc Martens.
  • The boots, the black jeans, the flannel...
  • It's like I'm looking at Janeane Garofalo straight outta' the 90s...
The Long of It

Best. Compliment. Ever.

Soooo, the story goes like this -

Almost a year ago, I happened to be hanging out after a show at the Punch Line in Sacramento because Ms. Sandra Giarde, CAE had a transaction to complete with Mr. Behrendt involving a Twitter conversation and a box of Keebler pretzel crackers (uh...you're just gonna have to trust me on this one.....).

As we headed out to the parking lot for the Great Cracker Exchange of 2010, I was schlepping along in usual anti-fashion fashion, avoiding eye contact, trying desperately to blend into the crowd and not appear "groupie-esque."

That's when Greg noticed my boots and his genuinely enthusiastic outburst was sublime.  Now, really, I do not know the man, don't claim to know the man - I just enjoy the laughs.  I take what he gives, tuck the best biscuits into my little container o' funny and go on about my day. But for one moment - a perfect stranger ....understood...(two things are important about this.  The first is this happened a year ago and it is still meaningful.  The second is the fact that someone thinks I resemble Janeane Garofalo which is fantastic because  I LOVE her.)

You see, I am all serious and grown up except for my appearance.  Maybe it's a Generation X thing.  Maybe there was no transition to "adult" clothing because we were adults at 12.  Maybe it was because I grew up in the Pacific Northwest.  Whatever it is - I am a fashion disaster.  If there was an "What Not to Wear - the Association Special," Stacy and Clinton would be knocking on my door.  I am obsessed with Project Runway because it's like watching the Discovery channel - I cannot believe those awesome creatures are out there and wonder why my DNA is not wired that way.

I can COPY what they do but I can't BE what they are.

Now, we all talk about authenticity and how we want our members to be themselves.  But if they are - what do you think happens?  I see the eye rolls.  I know when people are making fun of me. Cynthia D'Amour blogged about a chapter that had a dress code and kicked a member out. Really?!?! We should all take a moment and really THINK about what that means.

Yes, I have a penchant for Levis, t-shirts and chain wallets.  Occasionally I show up at CalSAE or ASAE events in menswear, sporting a tie and Chuck Taylor kicks. It's not a need to be controversial, it's a need to be...me. I don't look right when I try to look normal.  So, counterintuitively, I go with unusual as the least embarrassing option. What I've learned is people who still want to talk to me are usually people I actually want to talk to.

My friends generously give of their time and try to help me shop for makeup or clothes. I am always grateful for their input. I occasionally wear make-up, or dye the gray in my hair, or use a hair style other than "at-least-it's-washed."  But more often than not, I just sigh, shrug and move on (and thank my lucky stars I have such a great husband). As much as some of you think my shoes are a put-on to get attention, it's simpler than that. They happen to be an important part of who I am.

Obviously, I am a consultant.  Part of that gig means "blending in" with a new board and not embarrassing an executive.  So, I will roll out the pumps and suit jackets when appropriate.  But I am forever pushing those boundaries and so far, I've no inclination to stop.

The bottom line is, if you want creativity and innovation you have to accept those parts of you that don't fit in.

And if you want vibrant member communities, you have to do the same thing.

Otherwise, all you are doing is talking about community and not actually being it.

(I originally wrote this post almost a year ago in my "word of the year is authenticity" fervor.  I thought it would be a good post to end 2010 on.  The Association Subculture will be back next year with a vengeance and we are taking a new tack in 2011.  More "authenticity" to come but with an "evolution" attached.  In the meantime, enjoy your holidays folks and I'll see you all - tattooed and pierced - at the Pottery Barn!)

Here is the link to the video, I couldn't embed it. GO SEE Greg Behrendt live - you will not regret it....Chain Wallet


  1. This is why you rock. I would LOVE LOVE LOVE some Sanrio Doc Martens (yes, they have them now and yes they are as awesome as they sound) but I would feel weird wearing them at the non-sanrio or Doc wearing age of 42. Well, that plus my kids would laugh till they cried then tell me 1,000 times "YOU ARE TOO OLD TO WEAR THOSE!" Sigh. And I am enough of a fashion victim that I will stare longingly at the picture of those boots but probably never buy or wear them.

  2. Maggie -

    You just never know. :) Sometimes wearing them in spite of the laughter makes you feel like a warrior!

    Bottom line is - you are one of those accepting people who will talk to me regardless and I so very much appreciate that about you and about my other wonderful peeps (Sandra, Kiki, Jeffrey, Steve, Trish, Maddie and a thousand others)....


  3. Thank you for writing this!

    I remember a particular CalSAE meeting where, upon seeing your rocking suit/tie/chucks attire, a certain association executive expressed her negative opinion of your couture. What made me proud was that I was not the only person who pushed back at her about her comment. The community came to the defense of the righteous.

    In many ways, the act of putting on the "biz attire" makes me feel like I am putting on armor and going to war. And, I don't like feeling that way.

    I'll continue to fight for my right to wear jeans, chucks, and t-shirts (paired with outrageously expensive designer purses) every day...not just on "casual Friday."


    P.S. Maggie - go get those Docs and strut your stuff! The YAPstars will back you up.

  4. Ms. Sandra -

    I can always count on you! Yes, fight for your rights to wear jeans!

    Love you guys -



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