After a visit to a performance of Mamma Mia! last week at the Capitol Theatre, officials of the Federal Bureau of Apparel Standards moved quickly to impose sanctions and levy fines on Salt Lake City theatergoers. Said Manfred Zelig, chief administrative officer of the bureau: “You folks have no sense of occasion! Such slobs! Fat men in polo shirts! Cargo shorts! Hawaiian shirts! Track suits and exercise outfits! Fat women in tank tops! Pink terrycloth shorts bunching in the inner-thigh area! Flip-flops! Sandals!
“I counted a total of three male theatergoers wearing a coat and tie, and perhaps seven females dressed properly. Everyone else looked like they were going to Lagoon or a ward picnic!”
Zelig, a trim and impeccably dressed man in his early ’50s, said he refused to give in to the general decline in appropriate public attire. “What’s next? People going to the symphony in their PJs? Why not just settle into your seats at Abravanel Hall in your undies, or garments as the case might be. It’s a slippery slope. At the current rate, people will be showing up at the theater in their birthday suits!”
Zelig was at a loss to explain the descent into universal slobbery. “I don’t know. There are theories. Some sociologists say it all began with casual Fridays on the work scene; others blame Bill Clinton and his miniature running shorts. Still others point to the golf shirt and chinos permanently welded to Larry Miller’s body. But, whatever the cause, it’s a mess! Sometimes, I think the only properly dressed human being in the state of Utah is your well-groomed governor, Jon Huntsman Jr., who has won numerous international grooming awards.”
There was a time, said Zelig with a sigh, when people dressed up to go to the theater. “You made it a special occasion. And afterwards, you would go to Snelgrove’s for a banana split—which the tie industry loved because it’s a pain in the neck to get ice-cream stains out of a tie, and you’d have to stop by Bud’s Duds and get a new tie for Sunday school.”
Zelig adjusted the dimple in his tie—pale green with a pattern of tiny pink ladybugs—and shook his head with noticeable sadness. “And our ecclesiastical division at the Bureau of Apparel Standards is reporting an alarming increase in sloppy churchwear. There’s no such thing as Sunday-go-to-meeting clothes anymore. It’s not just Mormons or Catholics or Baptists or Seventh-Day Adventists. Just down the street from me at the local Buddhist church, the monks are ditching those nice orange robes and doing their meditating in baseball caps and Bermuda shorts.”
Two occasions that have traditionally called for a certain level of formality are also experiencing disquieting levels of slobbery, according to Zelig.
“I’m talking about weddings and funerals,” said Zelig. “If you’ve been to a wedding recently, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Who came up the idea of T-shirts with jackets? And funerals! Don’t get me started! No respect for the Loved One. I know there’s a trend these days for a more casual look for the corpse, the idea being there’s no point throwing away money on a nice outfit that will never see the light of day again. If the Loved One wants to lie in the coffin wearing a T-shirt saying “Gone Fishin’,” that’s one thing, but I think those paying their respects should wear appropriate attire.”
Zelig paused and took a couple of deep breaths. “Speaking of T-shirts, they ought to be banned altogether—at least those printed with slogans. I know I am appearing in a satirical column, but I want to leave you with a true fact:
“A friend told me about stopping in at Cove Fort after a visit to the Shakespearean Festival in Cedar City where, by the way, audience slobbery has won the field. Anyway, they have these nice faith-promoting tours of the old Mormon fort, led by older missionary couples, and during one such tour, Sister Smoot nearly suffered cardiac arrest when the group was joined by a thoroughly tattooed gentleman wearing a T-shirt that read, “Get a Tattoo, You Fucking Pussy.”
“Under our department’s new standards, this fellow would be fined and sentenced to spend six months in a Mr. Mac suit. But, believe it or not, I find the tattoo phenomenon to be encouraging. I love tattoos and believe their popularity signals a return to stylish attire. Where do you go after your entire body is inked? Fancy clothes!”