I woke up feeling informal on Tuesday. Felt like slinging a guitar across my back like Bruce Springsteen and driving out to the Badlands, but we only have one car and we were low on gas anyways. So I contented myself with wearing a well-broken-in pair of jeans to the office to appease the Beast of Informality inside me.

Unfortunately, the "embassy orientation" Shannon and I were scheduled to participate in that day included a sit-down meeting with the ambassador in his spacious, wood-paneled office. Nuts, I thought. It was too late to go home and change and -- although it would've saved me from having to wear jeans to meet the ambassador -- showing up in just my scivvies seemed like it might defeat the purpose.

So, when our little 6-person group filed quietly into the room, I staked out the corner of the couch farthest from the suited, bespectacled ambassador, hoping Shannon's pregnant tummy might shield me from his penetrating gaze. It didn't, but I'm sure I looked like a blazing ball of testosterone huddling behind a pregant woman's womb so I wouldn't be noticed.

During the ambassador's remarks, the group's two other males sat stiffly in their starched white shirts, crisp ties, and military haircuts. An embassy spouse with an infant softly rocked her baby as it, shall we say, passed gas. I'm sure I was the only one in the room wondering if it was really the baby. Shannon, always the teacher's pet, listened intently (to the ambassador, not the baby/mommy duet) and drew parallels between the spiel and the chiastic structure of the Pentateuch.

Meanwhile, I tried to be as nondescript as possible so the ambassador wouldn't notice my jeans and Billy Idol haircut. I nonchalantly appraised the wall-hangings. I scrutinized my scuffed shoes. I wondered if the one-armed drummer from Def Leppard buys his drumsticks in pairs and just uses one at a time or if he gets custom-made single sticks that have a brother stick somewhere -- kind of like how Harry Potter's wand has a brother wand. Then I thought how the Def Leppard drummer would totally kick Harry Potter's AND Voldemort's butts in a fight, even if Harry and Voldemort could use their wands and the Def Leppard drummer couldn't use his drumstick.

I also thought how Billy Idol probably wouldn't have been such a pansy as I was, hiding behind my pregnant wife. Anybody that dances with hise-elf would've probably rocked the ambassador's cradle of love, but I value my job much more than I value my adherence to Billy Idol behavior standards, so I kept quiet and wished I'd have woken up feeling more formal.