Monday, August 15, 2005

Back to D.C.

And I don’t mean the capital of the country, folks. I mean dress code. It’s something that was brought to my attention once more by a friend coming to CC for the first time this semester…I had forgotten about such things as lengths of shorts, heights of slips, and puckering of shirts, not to mention all-important anatomy lessons such as:

A. Finding your collarbone! This is a new adventure for many ladies, but essential to determining the appropriateness of that new dress. Three fingers and three fingers only are allowed to fit between that amazing little bone and the beginning of the fabric. Any more, and I’m afraid we’re just going to have to fine you. I recall my initial experience with this being very, very new, as my collarbone had never seen the light of day. (You're speaking to Miss Tshirt and Turtleneck here.) In fact, I don't think it has all summer.

B. Finding the crease in the back of your knee. This doesn’t sound so interesting as locating a collarbone, but it’s pretty important. It’s actually back there--get acquainted, especially if you plan to wear a skirt that doesn’t go sweeping along the floor with a gentle swish. (Funny, though, how such a ladylike effect only registers in my dirty little mind as “Gee, Betty, my hem’s getting simply filthy down there! I wonder if Zoop! detergent will get out that floor residue?” ) The kneecrease is something else of mine which rarely gets any sunlight.

Then there’s all the non-anatomy stuff you get to remember, things I simply hadn’t thought of since leaving school. Chapel veils, for instance, and how I’m not going to wear one. This shall become an interesting debate in approximately 120 hours, but I'm holding firm. There's something inconsistently hypocritical in wearing a veil at school and nowhere else. Or, remembering which shoes make that horrible clicking noise in church when you walk down the inconsiderately clicky hardwood floor. It never failed…the days I wore the wrong shoes were the days I was singing and had to walk the entire way from front to back of churhc with everyone still kneeling piously (quiet piety, too, oh, so quiet!) and trying to ignore the bloody shoes.

Then there are all the non-written dress code and fashion rules which govern the wearing of clothing. The biggest problem I’ve had this summer is seeing how long I can go before my mother notices that I’ve been wearing the same outfit for, like, say, about, well, a week. Then she mildly inquires whether I wouldn’t like to wash it, as a special occasion. (I swear she steals my clothes in the night sometimes and washes them when I’m not looking.) At school, so dim memory reminds me, one had to be sure and pick an entirely different outfit every day, because someone would be sure to notice that you’d worn that one yesterday. In fact, it was good to have at least two months’ worth of different outfits, because some of those noticers had memories like elephants. “Gee, Betty, didn’t you wear that outfit three Tuesdays ago? Is it a trend? I’ve got quarters, dear, if you need to do laundry that badly.” I try to change shoes on a biweekly basis, too.

Who worries about all this stuff in the summer? Who gets up in the morning during summer and goes, “Ah, shoot. I can’t wear my polo shirt today…I have class?” What person not under the wraps of an all-embracing dress code rummages through the closet and goes, “Gee, Betty, I can’t wear this shirt because it puckers!” (Well, to be honest, I have, but only because I’m too stupid to remember that sort of thing on a daily basis. I did it once, and promptly passed every puckerin’ shirt in the closet on to a place where puckers are looked upon with equanimity and mercy. Couldn’t afford to get sent back to the dorm every morning to change.) It's so funny to me to have dress code again thrust upon my mind as an entity. Since I'm practically always in dress code (except for the sneakers and polo shirt bit--sorry, Mollie!), I don't even think about it at home. I don't wake up in the summer and go, "I wore this outfit three days in a row this week. Someone might start noticing."

Sigh. Back to the grind. Back to the world where my sneakers will no longer be on my feet 24 hours a day, six days a week. Back to the world where you can’t wear someone else’s clothing unless they’re wearing something of yours, or else they’ll tell. Back to the world where borrowing your younger brother’s clothes is no longer possible, because he’s 500 miles away. Back to the future, McFly.

“Gee, Betty, isn’t this a lovely program? We should tune in every night!”


  1. Ah, behold how pleasant it is to be male... :-D

    Of course, I guess guys have collarbones, too, we just don't think about them much.

    (Yeah, and I wasn't going to say anything about that outfit. It's true, I always dress the same; but that's just because I've got a whole closet full of button-down shirts and cardigan sweaters.)

  2. Well, the old chapel veil argument again! ;) Ha, ha! Very funny. No, I think you have a point about wearing them. If you start wearing it at school, you should wear it when you're not at school. If you like to wear it, then you should keep wearing it. If you don't, then why are you wearing it? I guess it's like that.

    Now, I have never worn a chapel veil. And I think it's a good bet that I never will! (let's just say it's not in my nature! ;) )I think as a guy I can give you a different example. I started the habit of kneeling for communion at Christendom. However, I came back home where nobody kneels for communion...except me. I still kneel for communion, and nobody really bothers me. But I thought, "if I did it at Christendom, I'm doing it here!"

    By the way, my shoes were noisier than yours. Walking as an altar boy up the aisle before Mass, you'd swear that an SS officer were 'neath that cassock and surplice, just ready to cart off Fr. O'Kielty to the death camps!
    See you soon, and God bless...Betty.

  3. Peach, my darling, you are strange.

    See you in a couple days.

  4. How many clothes?! I must travel light. Can't imagine hauling all that up to school. Not worth it.

  5. Well, there is a magical way to have many clothes to wear but bring fewer with you--share with your roommate!

    I really need to add a part II to this post, seeing as how it isn't quite complete. There's more to be said.