” Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society. “
~ Mark Twain
Well here we are on the last day of August and I’m running out of time to get this last post up in the series on manners. Granted, my original plan to post on the 7th of each month hasn’t worked out so far but……I am doing my best to hit the mark in September. Fingers crossed!
While I had originally planned to cover more than table manners, cell phone etiquette and proper clothing choices; if I try to include everything I really want to cover we will be here for a good long while. I’m sure most of the subjects I am leaving out (discipline, stationery arts, chewing gum, etc.) will pop up in future posts but for now, I’ll close us out with clothes.
See what I did there? Punny isn’t it. No–it’s not….and know better. I’m so sorry but all of the “Back To School” nonsense is creating havoc in my brain. I am not ready. I’m not ready to get out the door at 7:30. I’m not ready to see my sweet Baby Girl start high school. I’m not ready to put on real clothes and be a person and go places and be around people. And I’m really not ready for the slippery slope I am now on that will lead my youngest child out the door to college. I know I have a while to go but if I have learned anything in the last 40-some-odd years of my life it’s that Ferris Bueller was right. Life moves pretty fast and if you don’t stop and look around once in a while; you could miss it.
I’m not sure what sort of slippery slope we are sliding down when it comes to the clothing folks are wearing these days. If I am strictly basing my opinion on the outfits I have seen in the last few months I would have to say it’s a slope that rips your clothes off while you’re sliding down it. Some of the things I have seen recently cause the wearer to appear as if they had become a part of some crazy Gulliver fantasy in which their bodies mysteriously outgrew their clothing over night. For those of you who are obviously confused as to how your clothing (or your children’s clothing) should actually fit; let me help you out.
If your pockets hang down 3 inches below the hem of your shorts; THEY ARE TOO SHORT. If you must constantly tug at the inseam of your shorts because they are stuck to your legs and/or crotch; THEY ARE TOO TIGHT. If you can’t raise your arms above your head without exposing your stomach; YOUR TOP IS TOO SMALL. If your bra straps are freely visible (and I am giving you the benefit of the doubt here that you’re wearing a bra) then; YOU NEED A DIFFERENT BRA. If you are out in a sheer dress and don’t have on a slip; PUT ON A SLIP. I find myself wondering if there are people out in the world who have no family, no friends, or no access to mirrors. Otherwise, how on earth could you explain their ability to get out the door and be roaming around in public wearing these outfits my Mother would refer to as “trashy get-ups”. To say I am baffled by this trend is putting it mildly.
I am especially bothered by the young girls I see walking around in shorts that appear to actually be some sort of underwear. I don’t know why I continue to be so surprised by all the distasteful wardrobes I continually encounter when more often than not, these young folks are wearing inappropriate clothing while they are with their parents! I don’t have any idea what my children may wear when they aren’t with me but I can assure you that I do know what they will wear when they are in my presence. I might not like it, but it won’t be inappropriate–especially if I am paying for it. I don’t understand parents who talk about 10 year old children and say “I just can’t get her to wear anything decent. I don’t know what the problem is.” I do–it’s you. I’m sorry, but what 10 year old has a job and earns enough money to buy their own clothes? Beyond that, who’s driving them to the mall to buy this tacky, trashy stuff? Last I checked, even in Alabama, 10 year olds are not legally allowed to drive cars.
Years ago you could protect yourself from these sorts of outfits simply by avoiding David Allen Coe concerts and the infield of the Talladega Racetrack; but no more.
Case in point: A few months ago I begrudgingly agreed to return to Walt Disney World. My daughter is a “Disney Person”. I am not. I agree to these trips because I love her and because I will admit even though the crowds and lines get the best of me; I have a deep admiration for the well oiled machine that is Disney. It really is amazing. Plus, the list of things they do quite well includes a mighty fine club lounge and that’s always a plus with me. While I was there (for 5 days that felt like 5 years) I could not believe the clothes I saw–or rather didn’t see. In a place targeted to families with young children I really thought I would be safe. I honestly can’t believe they haven’t instituted a dress code there. Mark my words, it’s coming. Pretty soon you’ll walk in and Mickey Mouse will be standing there holding a big sign that reads “Welcome to The Happiest Place on Earth! No Selfie Sticks and No Booty Shorts Allowed.”. It’s a crying shame that it has come to this but trust me–we’re there. I saw so many ass cheeks during my trip I began to question if a porn star convention was being held in the greater Orlando area……. and the welcome bags included a free day pass to Magic Kingdom. I was aghast. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think you need to have on your Easter outfit every time you leave the house but at the very least; please be somewhat modest. You don’t have to spend a ton of money to get a nice outfit either so don’t use that as an excuse. T.J. Maxx can take care of you from head to toe on any budget.
I don’t know why I am continually surprised by all the distasteful wardrobes I continually encounter. Did you know we actually have PARENTS who willingly allow their daughters to dress in skimpy “cheerleading” outfits to perform in public competitions? Some of the uniforms I have seen look much more like a swim suit than a cheerleading outfit. (As an aside about swimsuits–Unless you freely walk down the street/ride a bike/shop at the grocery/go out to eat, pump gas, etc. wearing a swimsuit and no cover up while you are in your hometown; don’t do it at the beach. You look completely ridiculous and everyone is staring at you…..in a bad way. However, if you are simply so free that you feel comfortable walking/riding/shopping/eating/pumping in a bathing suit whilst out and about in the general public regardless of your surroundings; carry on. I do not understand you but, be who you are.) Who in their right mind decided it’s appropriate to parade young girls around in front of large groups of people in these get-ups—all while they are sprayed down in glitter, wearing makeup fit for a drag queen? It is perplexing to say the least. Let them cheer or prance or dance their hearts out but for goodness sake, buy them a shirt!
I truly believe that folks are walking around in poor outfit choices primarily for one reason. I have mentioned it throughout this series and it’s something that is missing in the homes across America. A tragic lack of “home training” is clearly at the root of this social apocalypse. Home training simply doesn’t seem to exist in the ways it used to. While I will say (especially in The South) manners still do mean something to most people, we still have some work to do, even in Alabama.
It makes me think about armadillos. Twenty years ago you had to travel far, far away from Alabama to see an armadillo walking through the woods or dead on the side of the road. Now they are simply everywhere. Why, a couple of years ago we had one right out in our very own backyard. I don’t know about you, but I’m not willing to let bad manners and a lack of proper home training sneak around and crawl in to tarnish the lives of today’s youth any further. (A word to the wise, if you ever find yourself face to face with an armadillo out in your very own back yard; don’t use a baseball bat to try and kill it. You’ll just make it mad.)
We can’t just teach our children to say “please and thank you” and “ma’am and sir” and be done with it. There’s so much more they need to know to live successfully in polite society. I encourage you to take charge of your children’s home training. Give yourself a refresher course if need be. Books on manners and etiquette are easily found on Amazon.com or even in your public library. If you think all this is frivolous and doesn’t really matter, well then you’re crazier than an armadillo that’s been hit in the head with a baseball bat and I’ll be praying for you. If we don’t all pitch in and do something now, we will have no one to blame but ourselves.
As I close out this series I thank you for your interest and I want to remind you~ Manners should always be used to make those around you feel more at ease. If you’re using your knowledge of proper etiquette to make other folks feel badly about themselves–you’re doing it wrong.
In my opinion, good manners can open doors that even the highest education cannot.