McCanless column: Oh, for the days of decorum

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 22, 2008

By Janet McCanless
For the Salisbury Post
Maybe I live in a time warp ó OK, I know I’m old-fashioned ó but I wish someone could explain to me when we lost our sense of decorum in this country. I don’t know about you, but my family and I do not enjoy looking at someone’s navel while she takes our order in a restaurant. Having to gaze at someone’s nose ring while I pay for merchandise is enough to cause waves of nausea.
When did body piercing, bad manners, poor grammar and multiple tattoos become so fashionable? Growing up, it was unusual to see a woman with pierced ears, and I can remember being endlessly fascinated with a tattoo one of my uncles got during WWII. Now it’s commonplace to see men and women not only with pierced ears, but noses, navels, eyebrows, lips, tongues … whatever. To me, it’s a complete turnoff. How sanitary can it be for a person who deals with the public on a daily basis to spray you while they lisp instructions at you with a pierced tongue?
Now we come to the greatest offense of all, backward ballcaps, torn jeans and tank tops that stop just above the navel. What idiot told these people that this type of attire was fashionable? Go anywhere now, and you see young girls in torn clothing, layered with more torn clothing, exposed midsections, and sloppy shoes that are more appropriate for the beach. Unfortunately it’s spilled over to some of the older generation as well, and I’m here to tell you, it isn’t fashionable, it’s sloppy, plain and simple.
I don’t remember the last time I saw an entertainer dressed well on stage. Most of them look like they just fell out of a rag bag somewhere. Frank Sinatra would be appalled!
When I was a teen-ager, my mother would make certain that before I left the house I was properly attired in a nice skirt and blouse or dress, and decent shoes. In some cases, my outfit included matching hat and gloves. OK, that’s a little extreme maybe in this day and time, but you get the idea.
Short shorts and tank tops were reserved for the back yard or the beach, and we NEVER wore torn anything, and heaven forbid, we had pierced or tattooed any part of our body. We not only had to behave like young ladies and gentlemen, we had to look the part.In my years as a high school teacher, thank goodness I worked for a principal who expected decorum not only from the students but from the teachers as well. Anyone caught wearing a hat indoors, much less backward, was reprimanded, and teachers were held to a higher standard as well. As out of date as this may seem, there was a great deal of learning and studying going on. Nobody seemed distracted by the so-called “body art,” piercings, or some stupid hat turned sideways or backward on another person’s head.
Remember the days of going to the movies, or a restaurant, or any public function and seeing women in nice dresses, high heels, and men in suits and tires? It just seems to me we were politer to one another and we got better service from nicer looking clerks and wait staff. I can’t help but think we weren’t so rushed, so angry or impatient, and we enjoyed these forays into public places a great deal more than we do today.
The other day, I went to a luncheon where all the attendees were nicely dressed, and I even saw a woman there wearing a hat! Everyone remarked as to how nice she looked, how wonderfully elegant she was, and we couldn’t wait to speak with her.
Mama’d be proud!