I am in a foreign country [yeah, understatement, here!], I am a guest, and as such, I do believe I have a duty –whether I agree or disagree – to be considerate and respectful of the culture around me – and thus keep in mind that a display of too much skin might offend those around me when choosing clothing to wear out of the house. And, more often than not, as my normal “daytime” uniform probably isn’t appropriate, here, in this Country and culture.
My day starts very, very early, and begins with putting on what I refer to as my “leash aerobics” uniform [bike / exercise shorts and a tank top – or a tee shirt when it’s cooler – and “walking” sandals – I used to wear sneakers, but then had a tan line that ended at my ankles which were a stark white]. When the “kids” and I return from our walk, the morning “routine” continues with breakfast, vitamins, etc. Typically once that part of the morning “routine” is complete, I can then get on with my day, showering, donning a clean “daytime” uniform, etc. My “daytime” uniform is the same as my “leash aerobic” uniform, with different sandals. [I also have a “TV watching” uniform – yep – bike / exercise shorts, tee shirt and flip flops.]
All but TWO of a multitude of buildings that house the operations where all the day-to-day functions of a “small community” are administered [i.e., business offices, schools, library, community dining hall, post office] have signs posted at the entrances and in the lobbies regarding “appropriate attire.” The only TWO places where there are no such signs posted are at our commissary and the little 24-hour convenience store. The signs, written in very large English letters and miniscule Arabic script, say this:
Appropriate attire required. Anyone wearing clothing that is to too short, too tight or too revealing will be asked to leave.*I am of the opinion that a sign that does not specifically say, “No Shorts,” or “No Skirt above the Knees,” is open to interpretation as to what might be considered too short, too tight or too revealing. Yes, an argument could be made that a reasonably intelligent person would understand, regardless of the omitted specifics, what is appropriate. Thus, wearing a pair of Daisy Duke shorts with your butt cheeks partially exposed and a cropped tank top with no bra isn’t - appropriate.
[For the record, I do not own a pair of Daisy Duke’s and, certainly, at this point in my life, would not be caught dead with my butt cheeks partially exposed. I do not believe a cropped tank top is flattering on most women out of their late teens and early twenties – maybe a few, but very few – so, unless you’ve got that flat tummy thing going for you, don’t put that cropped tank top on. And, further, being somewhat naturally endowed, having had a child, and having lost most rounds of an on-going battle with gravity, going braless would just be wrong.]
It would be fair to say that perhaps my attitude of late has been just a wee bit in need of an adjustment, but I just wasn’t in the mood to change clothes. So, about seven-thirty, I leave to do a quick five-minute trip to the commissary to pick up a couple of items in my “daytime” uniform. As I park the truck, I decide at the last minute that before going into the commissary I’m just going to run in to the post office to see if we have any mail [see earlier column; we rarely have mail].
I enter the revolving door into the post office lobby and am just turning the corner to the section where our box is located, and hear a man’s voice,
“Excuse me, Madam.” “Madam.” “Madam, excuse me…”Assuming this is meant for me – I am the only person in the lobby – I turn to acknowledge the voice – the man – who is dressed in a Security uniform – but continue to our box – and as I am bending to peek into the box I can see this man – wildly gesturing to the “sign,” and calling to me,
“Madam. Do you read this?" "Madam!" "Do you read this!?”Do I? What is he asking me, “Do I?” Does he mean, “Can I?” or “Did I?” There is, as usual, no mail, and I can continue on to the commissary, and now have to walk directly by this man where he continues to stand, frantically pointing to the sign.
As I walk, purposefully, by him to get to the revolving door we are for just a second but only two feet apart and as I make eye contact with him – oh yes – direct eye contact – with his outstretched arm on the sign – he says, in what he probably thinks is a gruff, authoritarian voice, “Read this!” to which I respond, “Okay” and step into the pie shape of the door to exit and head off to the commissary.
What else could I have said? “Okay, sure. Let me read it right now.” I suppose I could have said, “Not now,” as I was leaving anyway. Instead, I simply said, “Okay.” I think I’ve responded “appropriately” even if I was, by Mr. Security’s interpretation, “inappropriately attired.”
*If this is not the exact wording, it is pretty damn close – I have not ever written it down, verbatim – and of course, as no cameras are permitted in any of the buildings, I’ve never taken a photo of one of these signs. I will make it a point to get the exact wording and add an addendum at my next opportunity.