Humor Break: On Home School Fashion
- Friday, March 07, 2003
Today's topic: Home School Fashion. I know what you're thinking. You're thinking: "Oh no, Carden is really going to step in it this time!" Or perhaps: "What a moron - why couldn't Josh have stuck to a safe topic like the virtues of rock music?" Or maybe: "Gee, I wonder if I wore matching socks today." That's what I'm thinking at least.
You have every right to think these things. Yet we here at Home School Humor Central have never shied away from the tough issues. When the world decided that we were unsocial, HSHC was there defending your collective social skills. When the world decided to put C-clamps in our bags of frozen chicken, we were there asking how it happened. When the world decided that we had entirely too much time on our hands...well, I guess it's hard to argue with that one. Anyway, after such daring forays into the Cauldron of Controversy, there are but a few Dark Places where we have not shined the Humor Flashlight powered by the "D" Batteries of Sarcasm.
Now, let's all be honest here: second only to the socialization stereotype, homeschoolers also have a "reputation" in the fashion world. Some have overcome this reputation. My brother Jason overcame it by actually seeking employment at the Gap during his college years. We each have our methods. My method was wearing the clothes Jason had to give me when the Gap required him to wear nothing but Gap clothing. Frankly, I think I got the better end of that deal. I even got the "friends and family" discount.
Of course, modest dress is a good thing. I'm not disparaging modest dress (heh heh, surely you didn't think I was THAT stupid!). However, I have noticed that large gatherings of homeschoolers can turn into "who can dress their children the most modestly" contests. (Can you say "burkas for men"?) Again, hear me: modest dress, good; ankle-length burlap, bad. Obviously, I'm making a broad, sweeping generalization here. (Official HSHC Motto: We hate all broad, sweeping generalizations). Accessorizing with burlap can be quite fashionable, in fact. But I know some of you know what I'm talking about. You know who you are.
In the interest of fairness, I'm NOT going to target any particular group or go into any greater detail. This keeps my in-box free from emails that begin with the phrase "Just wait until you become a parent...." Instead, I will continue a long tradition of self-deprecating humor by relating a very embarrassing fashion episode in my own life. Yep, even more embarrassing than the time a judge in law school called me "Regis" for wearing a shiny grey tie that matched my grey ostrich boots during a practice oral argument. But I digress....
Now that I'm graduated from college and law school (translated: "I'm old"), I am not often placed with large gatherings of homeschoolers. However, in 1997, I attended the national home school conference (Boston, Massachusetts, if any of you were there). My mom was there to receive an award for my father's years of service on HSLDA's Board of Directors. Jason, Jennifer, Jonathan and I were also invited to come, even though Jason and I had been out of the homeschool scene for quite a while. This led to an inevitable collision with the brick wall of home school fashion, with Jason and me serving as the crash-test dummies.
Elizabeth Eliot was slated to be the guest speaker at the next day's luncheon. After her speech, we had free time. Jason and I had made some plans for the afternoon (Jason: work out; Josh: work out in a different part of the gym so as not to be embarrassed by hulking younger brother) and we dressed accordingly. Jason was in shorts and a "nice" t-shirt (translated: no visible holes). I was dressed in a "nice" jogging suit.
Just to be on the safe side, we checked the program for the week. Sure enough, right there on the program was the phrase "Luncheon - Casual." Jason and I checked each other out: Our entire ensemblé screamed "casual." So Jason and I trooped on down to the large ballroom in the hotel just as the luncheon was about to start. We each grabbed one of the double-doors in the back of the room and swung it open to go in.
Boom, we hit the brick wall. Both of us instantly remembered what a four-year absence from homeschooling had caused us to forget: for homeschoolers, "casual" means "no tie." Forget about jogging suits and shorts, there wasn't even a pair of blue jeans in sight!
Because my mom had been specially invited, our "reserved seats" were all the way at the very front of the room. Jason and I looked at each other, looked at the room, looked at the distance to our table (past table upon tables of slacks, button-downs, and long, flowing dresses) looked back at each other and said "we'll listen to the tape." We would have been so out of place in that room that a male burka apiece would have been welcome! A memorable moment to be sure.
OK, some of you have been waiting with bated breath to see if I was going to step on everybody's toes with a column about fashion. Just remember: this is a humor column and not a treatise on Biblical standards of dress. I hope your toes are still relatively intact. The suspense is over and so is this column.
You can reach Josh at
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