There is something beautiful and quaint in the way people used to dress in public.
Remember that great scene in The Natural where Glenn Close stands up in the seats along first-base, her beautiful flowered dress and magnificent hat surrounded by thousands of fans dressed respectfully in white shirts and neckties?
People actually wore dresses and neckties to baseball games. It's not just a scene from a fictional movie. Look at the highlight reels from the Tribe champion years of 1948 or 1954. The great Connie Mack managed the Philadelphia Athletics wearing a suit in the dugout.
Imagine Manny Acta headed to the mound to make a pitching change wearing Armani!
My Dad passed away just a few years ago at age 96. He always wore a suit coat, tie, and hat to church. You know the kind of hat, a beautiful black or brown fedora, the type Humphrey Bogart used wear with a trench coat. Back in the day, every well-dressed man wore suits and hats.
Fast forward to 2011. The other day, in courtroom 16A in the Cleveland Municipal Court, Judge Ronald Adrine had had enough. The young man stood before the Judge facing a serious traffic charge dressed in a T-shirt, basketball shorts, and tennis shoes.
The Judge told him to return to court in thirty days, dressed appropriately for court. Let's hear it for Judge Adrine.
So what happened to our society?
Here's my theory.
We have become so self-centered that our own comfort takes precedence over respect for those around us.
We are sending this message: I don't care what I look like to you as long as I am comfortable.
The "Me" generation and its descendants have adopted a permanent attitude of satisfying one's self to the exclusion of anybody else's feelings.
Maybe it began with casual Fridays at the office. Maybe it started with the idea that jeans were suddenly considered almost universally appropriate for the bottom half of one's body.
I know this much. Things have gotten out of hand.
There is a pretty funny website you should check out that loses its humor when you realize that it features real photos of real people shopping throughout America. The website is called peopleofWalmart.com.
Here you will see the fatty grandma wearing hot pink short shorts along with a halter top exposing more wrinkles and moles than a slideshow at the Institute of Geriatric Dermatology. These people are grotesque not because of their bodies but because of the way they have chosen to adorn them.
Who are these people?
They are all around us in our neighborhoods, in grocery stores and, Lord help us, in our own homes getting ready to go out to expose the world to their bad taste.
So here's my message to all of us. It's not all about you.
Practice some humility and dress in a fashion that shows respect for others around you. You'd be surprised how much better you'll feel about yourself when you reserve the sloppy garb for yard work and present the best of yourself to the rest of the world.
So don't dress down. Dress up.
You see, I'm heading to the Walmart tonight and I'd like to keep my dinner down.