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Volume 15, Issue 50 ~ December 13 - December 19, 2007


Dressing Down

These days, only Santa bothers to dress up

By Allen Delaney

Going out to dinner has lost its charm. My wife and I celebrated our second anniversary, with me handing over my paycheck, at an elegant southern Maryland waterfront restaurant. Naturally, since this is a fine establishment with dimmed lights, candles flickering on the tables and soft classical music playing in the background, we dressed for the occasion.

Evidently, my wife and I are the last two people on this planet who still do such a thing.

From the looks of some of the patrons, the dress code for the evening was Dirty Laundry. A guy two tables over was wearing cut-offs, a T-shirt and a baseball hat. His date wore a midriff and jeans that were better suited for mopping up what the dog left behind. The best-dressed person in the dining room, besides my wife, the bartender and myself was some guy wearing a polo shirt. At least that had a collar.

This made me wonder when people stopped caring that they dress as if they’re trying to win the Look-Like-a-Homeless-Drunk-Under-the-Bridge award.

Even people attending church now look as if they just came in from mowing the yard. Casual Friday has become Slovenly Week.

When I was a kid, ordering take-out pizza was a big deal; going out to dinner was momentous. Our family did this on rare occasions, usually after church since we were in our Sunday best. Sunday best now means that your jeans cannot have more than two holes in them. Anyway, Mom, Dad, sometimes friends and myself would eat out among other nicely dressed diners, with Mom constantly reminding me not to place my elbows on the table and certainly not to spill anything on my good suit. I miss those days. The dressing up to go out part; not the spilling part.

The only places my friends and I were allowed to go casual — meaning jeans with no holes — were fast-food places. Other than that, we dressed to go to dinner, church, the movies and — for my mother at least — shopping. I can remember her wearing a dress with white gloves for a day of shopping in the city. In fact, my parents dressed better for sleeping than some of the people I see in public today. Their reason: If there’s a fire, I don’t want to be seen wearing worn-out pajamas.

Sometime between 1965 and today, society has gone from casual to disheveled. If this is some sort of statement, I can only imagine that statement being, Hey buddy, can you spare a buck? I actually witnessed my stepson take a new pair of shorts and rip them with a knife to give them that distinctive, sophisticated, Li’l Abner look. Had I done that in my youth, my father would have ripped something of mine and it wouldn’t have been fabric.

I say it’s time we Americans dress so that foreign tourists don’t think our country is going through a massive depression.

I think it’s time to stop wearing ill-fitting T-shirts that make people wonder if you’re trying to smuggle a beer keg into the theater. I say the youth of today should hike up their pants so they can run faster to avoid being arrested for indecency. I say adults should be role models by not wearing their Good Will rejects at Sunday service.

As for me, despite trends, fads or statements, I will continue to dress for special dinners — even if I do spill something on my good suit.

Half a dozen times a year, humorist Delaney, of Prince Frederick, gives us a good laugh, often at the reflection of ourselves we see in his mirror. Look in his Christmas story next week.

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