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Saturday, March 24, 2007

Taste and Decorum Optional

A couple of years ago, I made some snarky comments about a person I saw at Wal Mart, and then I followed it a week or so later with some observations from Six Flags. Got a whole lot of comments on those. Let's see what this one does.

You see, I wandered into Wal Mart again today, and I noticed two people "worthy" of note. I'm sure there were plenty more people that I could mock and ridicule, but these two just... stood out to me. I think you'll understand why in a moment.

The first one was this cute little teenie bopper with a t-shirt that read "FITCH." (I can only guess that "FITCH" is a contraction of two words, one of which rhymes with "duck" and the other a proper term for a female dog.) Why would a parent buy that for their precious little princess? Or, if they had just handed her some money and send her shopping for clothes, why in the world would they let her actually wear the dang thing once she brought it home? What does that say about her (and her parents)?

Our second notable was an older woman (by older, I mean somewhere over 40, and... um... I being generous). At first glance, she wasn't half bad, just a little off. Her hair was dyed jet black, pulled up into high pig tails. Black t-shirt, jeans, and tennies. (I've worn a black t, jeans, and tennies to Wal Mart- no biggie.) Then she turned around, and it took everything in me to not drop my jaw to the floor. On her t-shirt was a long saying (I didn't get the chance to read the whole thing- my loss, I'm sure) which ended with "you can go f*** yourself" (without the *s- it was the real word that rhymes with "duck"). When I thought it couldn't get any worse, she opened her mouth to tell her daughter (?) "you'd better hurry before I lose my mood."

I'll admit. I've led a sheltered life. My parents raised me (to the best of their ability) to be polite. In my little world, women act like ladies in public, even if they're really not all that lady-like. Men act like gentlemen in mixed company, no matter how much they really don't want to. There is a subtle hint of propriety in everything you do. Some people might say I'm snobbish now, and I'm ok with that if that means I expect people to act civilized in public areas.

Needless to say, I can't remember ever seeing t-shirts with offensive sayings when I was growing up (for the sake of this discussion, I am defining "offensive" as anything I wouldn't say in front of my grandmother). Then again, I don't remember hearing a lot of offensive things until I was in high school, at least, and even then it wasn't that bad. I started hearing some of the "really" bad stuff when I got into college (go figure), but there have been times in recent history when I've had to look some sayings up to find out what they mean. And I'm doing my best to raise my boys the same way.

That's not to say that I treat every person who cusses as if they are lesser beings. Far from it. Some very good friends of mine swear a blue streak. They're adults. They can say whatever they want, whenever they want. Fortunately, they usually choose to edit their vocabulary when they're in public (especially around children). What you say in private among friends is your deal. (And, yes... I do cuss a little bit. I try not to, and it's pretty rare, but it happens. I'm human.)

But, back to our female in the t-shirt. She was in public, and there were a bunch of kids wandering around Wal Mart. And there were a lot of kids who were too young to know what the words meant, but they read it. If a grown-up has it on a t-shirt, it's not wrong, right? And the older kids... the ones who knew what it meant... they read it, giggled to themselves, and thought, "well, if adults are wearing that word in public, it must not be that big of a deal." And then there were all of the adults who read it, looked at the woman, and immediately labeled her as "white trash."

She might not care what people think about her (that's pretty obvious, isn't it?) But I care what people think about her. More importantly, I care what two 13 year-old boys think about her. I don't want them to be judgemental based on looks alone, but I want them to know that looks can tell you something about a person. Not everything, just something. It's a place to start sometimes. What she was wearing told me that she was someone I wouldn't really want to get to know.

No, I don't expect people to dress up to go to Wal Mart. Duh. I was wearing jeans and a (plain) t-shirt. I do expect people to have a shred of self-respect and dress accordingly. I expect people to respect others enough to not wear things that are so obviously offensive. I expect people to act in a socially acceptable manner.

Yeah, I know. I expect far too much.

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