I don’t remember the first time I encountered the phenomenon, (though I would guess it’s been in the last decade), but I can tell you that seeing people wearing slippers out on the street always shocks me a little. To me, it gives off a whiff of either “crazy” or “egregiously lazy,” neither of which is something to shoot for, methinks. Now, I’m not one of those women who never leaves the house without makeup, perfectly coiffed hair, and a spiffy outfit. However, if I’m wearing slippers outside the house, it is never beyond the perimeter of my property. Within the pale of the Cunningham estate, anything goes, but if I’m actually going somewhere, I put on real shoes. And, you know, clothes.
Some people don’t bother, of course. Just when I was starting to assimilate slippers-outside-the-house into my worldview, said view was rocked a bit more when I started noticing a lot of folks wearing pajamas out in public, often along with slippers. These folks are generally high school and college girls who are still young and fresh enough to look gorgeous as they roll out of bed each morning. However, just because that is the case, I don’t think it necessarily confers upon one a license to be out in the world as one literally rolled out of bed. On one hand, I suppose I can applaud their “Who cares what anyone else thinks?” stance. It’s a good perspective to have. On the other hand, my mother would’ve never let me leave the house in pajamas, and decent people in society dress before they go outside. That’s why people ask, “Are ya decent?” before they barge into a room with a closed door.
I thought this sartorial degradation had reached its nadir, but I have recently been educated otherwise. Last Friday morning, after a rough night with my back and a rough morning with the icepack eating up most of my before-work time, I decided I wanted, nay, DESERVED a bear claw for breakfast. So I popped into Safeway on my way to the office, stopped by the bakery, and then stood in the express line reading the headlines on the magazines.
As I stood there, the lady in front of me nudged her way into my awareness. The awareness of her existence turned to into a double-take when I realized that she was wearing a pink terrycloth bathrobe tightly cinched at the waist, along with a pair of white slip-on shoes. She was slight, mostly silent during the transaction, and she emanated timidity. And I wondered just what kind of person would wear a pink terrycloth bathrobe into Safeway at 9 o’clock in the morning, and I scanned her groceries, expecting to see more than a few cans of cat food, coffee, cigs, two dozen packages of rubber dishwashing gloves, and perhaps a fifth of whiskey.
But no, she was buying fresh fruit and salad. And then I thought, well, maybe she doesn’t have any other clothes, and when I heard her say, “I’m paying with cash,” the only time I heard her speak, I fully expected for her to pay for her produce in the nickels and pennies she’d picked up on her rounds staring at the ground, muttering to herself. But when she opened her wallet, she had cash and at least one credit card. So the robe could not be explained by any obvious poverty.
I looked around to see if anyone else was noticing the pink bathrobe, but if they were, their poker faces would not admit it. Perhaps they get that a lot at Safeway; or maybe this lady is a regular. She paid for her stuff and walked out, and I did the same soon after. As I came out of the store, I saw her getting into her car. She pulled out of the parking lot in a Porsche Roadster.
Still scratching my head on that one.