There are some places we go to where, without having any code posted or any signs or anything, we automatically know how to behave. We know how to dress. Sometimes it's based on the amount of money we spend or how special the event is. Now, these places are almost always theaters and restuarants. I mean, we spend a lot to fly yet when I go to an airport, I still see some of those horrible nylon warm up outfits I used to see years ago.
If we have to drive for an hour to get there, we dress up. I mean, where are we going over an hour away if we're not dressing up? You don't get in the car and cross a bridge and pay a toll if you're just going for a slice of pizza. It's an interesting sociological event. We as a society just know how to dress and behave in certain places. I attended some ballets and NY Philharmonic concerts over the past couple of years and there were even unwritten rules on how and when to applaud. Amazing.
I went with my wife and some friends to see Barenaked Ladies perform at Radio City Music Hall last week. We didn't dress up but we were more than presentable. But there was a dilemma here: rock concert, sure. You don't dress up for a rock concert. But Radio City. It's one of the nicer theaters in the City, if not the world. It has history. It has some amazing art deco styling. So somehow, it demands a better wardrobe selection. And I found that most people agreed with me (of course, the crowd was also filled primarily with people around my age). But then there were the morons a few rows in front of me who had to yell, "let's go Rangers!!!"
You've got to be kidding me. We weren't at a movie theater or a bowling alley. We weren't at Madison Square Garden or at a hockey game. We were at Radio City Music Hall. The tickets were around $75 a piece. So what makes someone yell, "let's go Rangers"? Even worse, what makes the jackasses in the mezzanine reply in kind? Is this some kind of cultural shift that I missed?
Every generation goes through these shifts. No one knows exactly when they happened. When you look at footage of baseball games in the 40s and 50s, all the men were wearing suits and hats. There was actually a time when a guy would put on a suit before going to a baseball game. Sixty years later, those same guys would be shirtless and have letters painted on their chests (well, not the same guys but you get the idea). And hats? Someone told me once that all men wore hats everywhere until JFK's inauguration. He didn't wear a top hat with his tux and he never really wore hats at all. So okay, you can point to when hats went out of style. But who was the first guy to go to Yankee Stadium wearing jeans and a t-shirt? Maybe society is going through one of those shifts right now. Maybe the time of getting dressed up for an evening at the theater is long gone. We've become a casual society and that applies to everything.
But does it really apply to everything? Styles change. Fine. But the guy in front of me at the concert emitted some kind of smell which couldn't just be a fart. This smelled like the guy literally cut some cheese. My wife and I actually had to step out into the aisle to get away from it. So wear your t-shirts if you want. Cheer for the Rangers in the middle of Tavern on the Green. But for the love of G-d, don't fart on me. We've already banned smoking from public places. Do we really need to ban farting? Can't we, as a civilized society, police ourselves there? Or is that the next acceptability trend?