Wednesday

My Topless and Legless Outfit

On Dec. 27, 1980, the Spokesman-Review’s Action Corner ran a letter from a fussy person asking for aid to get a major grocery store to post a shoe and shirt required sign. “You see,” this person wrote, “there are people who come into this store with no shoes, touch their feet and handle produce. I myself will not buy fresh produce there, but the management doesn’t seem to care.” 

When the market finally met this person’s authoritative request, a thank you note was written stating the store is a lot cleaner now. Who is this person kidding? In the middle of winter? What’s cleaner than a pair of frozen feet? Who picks up vegetables with his feet anyhow? 

The day after this article appeared in the paper, I noticed a simple suggested dress code sign pasted up at the entrance of a supermarket door in Davenport. It reads as follows: “Shoes and shirts please. To insure the healthiest atmosphere possible, proper dress would be appreciated.” This request notice may have been put up at the beginning of winter to warn some of us that it’s improper to dress skimpy so early in the season. Good advice. 

Logically, I believe this message is to condition us scanty dressers to consider changing our ways when summer time rolls around. Also it’s a request for vacationers to change their outdoor habits of body freedom when they shop for groceries, while passing through our towns on their care-free way to the lakes, and other lovely northwest spots. 

In a small way, it’s just plain authoritarianism, interfering with one’s personal dress habits in certain essential public service places. What a switch! Years ago, when large shopping centers were opening up on the outer edges of Spokane, the Northtown district was broadcasting their advertisements over the radio as follows: “Come and shop at Northtown in your leisure attire, whether you are suntanning or working in your garden. Shop where you can feel comfortable, and enjoy our casual atmosphere.” 

No one seems to know why the pressure is on now, to hint for a change in dress habits when the weather heats up. Our Inland Empire towns have catered to a modern country style of living for a long time. I’m wondering what affected the change recently. What’s wrong with some exposed skin during the healthy time of the year? Unless one is allergic to the sight of too much skin. What offends one person, may not offend others. Seeing someone shopping in a Ronald Reagan “morning attire stroller suit” could bother my eyes a little, but that’s his conservative constitutional right. 

What the heck does “proper dress” mean? A farmer picking up repairs for his breakdown may stop in for groceries in his shop-worn coveralls. A shirtless construction worker on a hot day, may shop for a cold pack of coke. Sure, some men love to live in their suits clear up to bedtime, and go shopping in their nationally accepted uniform. 

I wouldn’t care to go barefooted when the pavement is a frying pan, but that should be left to the individual. This winter, Sugar and I were invited to a party in Spokane. It was held for a well-known couple on their return visit. The hostess would rather we went bare footed as some shoes could raise heck with her expensive carpets. In fact, while visiting in Hawaii, we soon found out it was a must to park your shoes or sandals outside. One easily knew how many were stompin around the house by counting the sandals on the porch, and dividing by two. 

When the molting season arrives, my skin will start to show signs of sagging from years of wear and tear, but my hide should have the proper seasonal color after the sun does its job. When the first warm shopping day arrives Sugar will pick from my selection, a pair of clean shorts, properly suited for shopping. A matching pair of blue jogging shoes will usually be worn with my topless and legless outfit. My original dress outfit should blend nicely against the sunlight as it tries to push it’s violet rays through the supermarket windows. I’m hoping the store personnel will feel comfortable with my presence. 

"Shirt And Shoes Please" Kik-Backs, p. 67


Walt Kik



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