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Burnett's Urban Etiquette

Monday, March 20, 2006

White House/Church, Which Warrants Better Clothes?

First my disclaimer: If you don't attend some kind of worship facility, that's on you and not my business. But if you choose to attend some kind of religious service, you gotta follow the "White House Rule."

If you're not familiar with the story, last year - mid summer, I think - a women's college sports team was invited to the White House to celebrate their national championship. A number of the young women wore flip-flops and were roundly scolded by readers, TV news viewers, columnists, and broadcast pundits, for not showing proper respect to the White House by dressing so casually. Some people guessed - and they were probably right - that every one of those young women owned more formal shoes, appropriate for a visit with the President of the United States. So the assumption was they didn't wear their nicer stuff, 'cause visiting the White House wasn't that big a deal to them.

I'm not uptight about fashion. My style says balance the setting with your comfort zone and you'll put together the right kind of clothes.

But what I want to know is where were the critics Sunday morning, when my wife, my visiting mother-in-law, and I went to church, only to see several teenage girls who, with every step they took, grimaced and tugged downward on their realllllllllllllllllllllly short skirts? And they were wearing flip-flops. There was the teenage boy, with ill-fitting surf-style shorts that exposed way too much of his boxers, a really tiny t-shirt, and, yes, flip-flops. And finally, there was the grown man who at least wore shoes... With socks, but he capped the outfit off with shorts and a wife-beater t-shirt.

Now, I'm not hatin'. But I remember the mantra my folks and grandparents chanted when I was a kid: If you go, wear your best. Not because you need to show off or keep up with the Joneses, but because wearing your best is a means of showing respect to your house of worship. And no one on the planet is gonna convince me that those teens and that grown man were wearing their best. The adult was wearing expensive tennis shoes. They looked new, scuff free. If he could afford those kicks, then I'm betting he owned a shirt with sleeves and maybe a collar on it. The teen girls? Their folks were decked out in nice suits and dresses that left everything to the imagination. Trust me, there was loot for slightly longer skirts and shoes that covered entire feet for them too. And the teen boy? Tell me he didn't at least have a belt so he could've kept the shorts high enough to cover up the boxers. His mom was looking pretty sharp too. Guarantee you he owned long pants.

Assuming I'm right and those teens (by way of their folks) and the dude in the wife beater weren't destitute, then the fit-for-a-backyard-barbecue gear was triflin' - poor church Burnettiquette.

And speaking of triflin', I lost a good bit of a healthy appetite during Sunday brunch on Hollywood Beach, when a random parade of dudes in Speedos and thongs came walking past our table on the Broad Walk. If there ain't a law about exposed doughy cheeks there should be. My omelet didn't taste right after that display.

All you lifelong South Floridians, is that a Florida thing, guys in banana hammocks on the beach? Or was I just too sheltered in the Midwest before moving here last fall?


  • Right! Cut-off jeans, bikini tops, T-shirts with the latest cute saying & bare feet don't make it as proper attire for viewing hours and funerals either.

    By Blogger Curious, at 5:55 AM  

  • So true! I get so tired of people making excuses for the attire of teens and others in church. Oh and "at least they're in church" doesn't cut it either. Now, I'm not saying you have to have the most expensive and most coordinated outfits, but dang, how hard is it to put on shoes, shirt and a belt?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 11:52 AM  

  • Holy Jesus! At first I was going to ask, is your church under a tiki hut at the beach or and did they serve margaritas and chips instead of holy wine and wafers?

    When I was a rebellious kid growing up in Miami, I always asked my mom why I had to dress to the nines to go to church, when God loves all creatures as they are. However, I didn't mean I would be exposing my hoochie to the big man in the sky, let alone the blushing priest. And if I'd been a boy, I wouldn't have asked to wear testicle-exposing boxers either.

    And you know how my alter-ego, Manola, feels about those short skirts! Ick!

    I say, it's parents who can't control their teenagers and a generation of teenagers that have lost all sense of taste and class.

    So no, you were not too sheltered in the Midwest. It wasn't always that way.

    As far as being exposed to doughy cheeks on the beach, folks used to dress more conservatively when not actually ON the beach. Now if you are in a little Caribbean island and going to eat in some local shack like Foxy's, you'd completely expect to be surrounded by bathing suits.

    Again, a time and place for everything. Here, the boundaries are lifted.

    Come to think of it, it has been a long time since I noticed a "shirt and shoes" required sign anywhere here in HoBe.

    Today, it's just a fact of life. I have friends from the Northeast who can't believe how much flesh is visible to the, ehem, naked eye.

    By Blogger Manola Blablablanik, at 12:03 PM  

  • I don't think it's necessarily a Florida thing, although you'll see it more often here because of the weather and the mix of people.

    It's all about how you were raised. I was born here, and I wouldn't have been caught dead wearing shorts in church.

    By Blogger Robert, at 9:36 PM  

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