Masonic Flair

by Midnight Freemason Contributor
WB Darin A. Lahners 

Brian the Mason and his flair

After my article: "What would you say you do here?" referencing the 1999 movie: Office Space dropped, Robert Johnson made a comment on a social media post promoting that article that I should tackle the issue of Masonic Flair. If you have never seen the movie, there is an exchange between one of the main characters: Peter, played by Ron Livingston, and Joanna, played by Jennifer Aniston, regarding Flair.  Jennifer works as a server at a fictional restaurant chain in the movie, Chotchkie's.  Peter meets Joanna when he enters the restaurant and asks her to lunch at a neighboring restaurant, Flingers.  She meets him there in her work uniform and the following exchange takes place.   
JOANNA
Hi.

PETER
Hey.

JOANNA
I wonder if they will let me wear this in here.

PETER
I think it would be ok. Would you like to sit down?

He motions to a chair.

JOANNA
Ok. (does so) Wow. This place is really nice.

PETER
Yeah, is it?

JOANNA
Oh my God, compared to Chotchkie's. I like the uniforms better anyways.

PETER
I like yours.

JOANNA
Nah. (makes a face)

Peter looks at the buttons' wearing on his suspender. One says We're 
not in Kansas anymore. The one underneath says POOF.

PETER
"We're not in Kansas anymore."

JOANNA
Yeah. Really. (laughs)

PETER
It's on your - (points)

JOANNA
Oh! That's, uh, that's uh, my pieces of flair.

PETER
What are pieces of flair?

JOANNA
That's where you know, suspenders and buttons and all sorts of stuff. 
We're, uh, we're actually required to wear fifteen pieces of flair. 
quite stupid actually.

PETER
Do you get to pick them out yourself?

JOANNA
Yeah. Yeah. Although I didn't actually choose these. I, uh, I just 
grabbed fifteen buttons and, uh, I don't even know what they say! 
Y'know, I don't really care. I don't really like talking about my flair.

Ramdom picture of Joanna and her flair
Freemasons love their flair. and I used to be like Joanna.  It felt like I had about 15 masonic pins on my suit coats. I probably had less, but the problem is... I also didn't really choose them.  I just grabbed some pins and pinned them on.  If I was asked about them, I believe I would be able to answer where they came from, but I didn't really pin them on to be conversation starters.  I just thought it was something you were supposed to do.  I don't know where I got the idea that I should wear so much flair, but I imagine that it was due to a conversation like this:

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

Darin? Would you come here for a moment, please?

DARIN:

I'm sorry. I was late. I was finishing my green beans.

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

I need to talk about your flair.

DARIN

Really? I have 15 pins on. I, uh, (shows him)

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

Well, ok, 15 is minimum, ok?

DARIN:

Ok.

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

Now, it's up to you whether or not you want to just do the bare 
minimum. Well, like Brian, for example, has 37 pins. And a 
terrific smile.

DARIN:
Ok. Ok, you want me to wear more?

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

Look. Darin.
DARIN:

Yeah.

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

People can get their degrees anywhere, ok? They come to Freemasonry
for the atmosphere and the attitude. That's what the flair's about. 
It's about fun.
DARIN:
Ok. So, more then?

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

Look, we want you to express yourself, ok? If you think the bare 
minimum is enough, then ok. But some people choose to wear more and we 
encourage that, ok? You do want to express yourself, don't you?

DARIN:

Yeah. Yeah.

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

Great. Great. That's all I ask.

DARIN:

Ok.
GRUMPY PAST MASTER:
Now, about your ritual.
DARIN:
Ugh. 
At some point, the number of pins that you wear on your suit coat has to become excessive. What number would be excessive?  I'd suggest that anything over one or two is excessive, but this is coming from a guy who used to wear an excessive amount of masonic flair.  I wish I would have come to this realization by having a conversation with my Grumpy Neighborhood Past Master.
GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

We need to talk. Do you know what this is about?

DARIN:

My, uh, pins.

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

Yeah. Or, uh, your lack thereof. I'm counting and I only see fifteen 
pins. Let me ask you a question, Darin.

DARIN:

Umm-hmm.
GRUMPY PAST MASTER:
What do you think of a person who only does the bare minimum?
DARIN:
Huh. What do I think? Let me tell you what I think, Stan. If you want 
me to wear thirty-seven pins like your pretty boy Brian over 
there, then why don't you just make the minimum thirty-seven pins?

GRUMPY PAST MASTER:

Well, I thought I remember you saying you wanted to express yourself.

DARIN:

Yeah. Yeah. Y'know what? I do. I do want to express myself. Ok? And I 
don't need thirty-seven pins to do it. All right? There's my pins! And this is me expressing myself. (Starts to remove pins from lapel) 
There it is! I hate this this lodge! I hate Fremasonry and I don't need it!! (Storms off)
GRUMPY PAST MASTER:
But we haven't even discussed the eighteen mistakes you made in your floorwork!
While I didn't have a conversation like the above nor did I have as many pins as Brian, I realized that I was wearing an excessive amount of flair when I showed up to a Masonic funeral a few years ago and I was instructed to remove it.  It probably took me a good ten to fifteen minutes to remove those pins.  They had to delay the funeral service while I removed my pins and placed it into my suit pocket.  That was my wake up call.      
I will say that Americans are the only Freemasons that like to advertise that they are Freemasons.  This is most likely due to the public perception of Freemasons in America versus other countries.   In England, there seems to be a precedent where someone in the Press will attempt to vilify Freemasonry every so often.  It got to a point that the United Grand Lodge of England had to push back and say: "Enough is Enough".  It seems that wearing Masonic flair is a uniquely American phenomenon.  

Before I begin the equivalent of the points in/points out debate when it comes to Masonic pins, I'm going to acknowledge that you're going to wear as many pins as you want to wear. So, I would ask if you wear pins, please wear them because they mean something to you.  Maybe a brother you hold in high regard gave you a pin, or you received one from your mentor upon the completion of your degrees, or you survived your year in the East and you wear your Past Master pin as a reminder to never do that again. Just don't wear them to wear them. I also can't believe I'm saying this, but use some common sense. You don't have to overcompensate for being divested of metal by wearing it on your lapel.  If you can't see your lapel, then you're probably wearing too many pins!  However, I do thank you for actually dressing up for a degree and showing the candidate some respect. 

~DAL

WB Darin A. Lahners is our co-managing Editor.  He is a Past Master of and Worshipful Master of St. Joseph Lodge No.970 in St. Joseph. He is also a plural member of Homer Lodge No. 199 (IL), where he is also a Past Master. He’s a member of the Scottish Rite Valley of Danville, a charter member of Illinois Royal Arch Chapter, Admiration Chapter No. 282 and is the current Secretary of the Illini High Twelve Club No. 768 in Champaign – Urbana (IL). You can reach him by email at darin.lahners@gmail.com

4 comments:

  1. Brother Darin Lanher whenever u write I truly get inspired. You should publish a masonic book it woukd be a best seller. PS I also love Jenifer aniston right from her role in friends.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the kind words and for reading my articles. I'm happy that my writing hits home for you.

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  2. Thank You for reading the article.

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