Unreasonable Anger Theatre Presents: Kids Wear the Darnedest Things

Something dumb that drives me nuts: Kids who refuse to dress up.

This is not an Adult Feeling for me, or a Parent Feeling. Even when I was a kid, it really bothered me when I saw other kids at a fancy function dressed in jeans and sneakers.

Maybe it was because I had to get dressed up all the time to go to Witness meetings. So I’d think to myself, Hey, kid, I gotta put a suit on three times a week. You can’t put on friggin’ tie for Aunt Clara’s 90th birthday?

I don’t come from fancy people, by any stretch of the imagination. But I do come from a family where you know that sometimes you have to dress nice. And “nice” doesn’t mean “expensive”. It just means “not showing up to a funeral in a Budweiser t-shirt.”

It doesn’t take a lot of money to not look like a slob. I wore SalVay suits as a kid. Hell, I wore sub-SalVay suits. I wore suits from this nasty-ass thrift store in our local town that smelled like an armpit. Every time I set foot in that place, it took a few weeks off my life, from a combination of intense fear I would be spotted there and the airborne contaminants inside it. Seriously, I think it was built on top of a former pesticide testing facility.

But you know what? We were too damn poor to turn up our noses at such bargains. After a delousing, the suits looked fine. Plus, there was the occasional pearl hidden within. I once managed to snag a vinyl copy of Monty Python’s rare three-sided record for like a buck.

I’m aware that not everyone has what sociologists would call the “cultural capital” to know how to behave in certain social situations. But my feeling is, if you have enough money to not shop at The Pest Hole Thrift Shop like I did, you also should know how to dress at a fahncy function.

All of this childhood anger hit me anew this weekend at a party I attended. The outfits worn by people at this party ranged in their fanciness. I was at the lower end of the scale, in a nice sweater and dress shoes but also wearing a pair of jeans. Some folks were all decked out, others were closer to me. But no one looked like they just rolled out of bed and put on something that’d been laying on the floor.

Then this one kid showed up in a replica NFL jersey and sneakers, and just like that, I was FURIOUS. Because it wasn’t an old holey football top or scuffed-up Keds. No, it was sparkling, brand-new (or well maintained) Vince Young replica and matching shoes in similarly pristine condition.

So this family had enough dough to dress him in the outfit of his choice. And everyone else he entered with wore appropriate attire. He just didn’t feel like getting dressed up. It really pissed me off, in the kind of blind, dumb way that you can only be pissed off when you’re a kid and you find something WRONG and UNFAIR!

And I see NO WAY in which this post could come back to bite me in the ass when my own child refuses to get dressed up some day!