In the case of pajamas, this court says Groucho gets it right

Friday, May 25, 2012

Little did my favorite old philosopher Marx -- Groucho Marx, that is -- know it back then, but he pretty much summed up the sad state of today's fashion misdeeds from his perch more than 80 years ago.

As the ever-intrepid Capt. Geoffrey T. Spaulding in the 1930 comedy "Animal Crackers," Marx dropped what has gone on to become one of the top 100 movie quotes of all time, according to the American Film Institute.

"One morning I shot an elephant in my pajamas," the deadpan Marx/Spaulding intoned. "And how an elephant got in my pajamas, I'll never know."

Cue the Groucho theme song: "Hello, I Must be Going ..."

It just seems that everywhere you go these days, you can spot someone wearing their jammies out in public. Not out to walk the dog in the yard. Not to grab the mail. Not even to pick up the newspaper.

Like to the grocery store. Or out pumping gas. And Lord help us, yes, at Walmart, as witness those lovely "People of Walmart" sites on the Internet.

Consider this: I was seated at McDonald's, catching an early evening bite a couple of weeks ago when in walked a twentysomething mother, wearing striped silk pajamas. To buy her kid a Happy Meal!

I quickly glanced around the lobby for Alan Funt or Ashton Kutcher. Surely this was a gag. But there wasn't even anyone out on the sidewalk relishing the payoff of some silly husband-wife bet. At least she did seem to lower her head in shame as she trudged to the side exit, McDonald's bag in hand. Amazing.

Already wearing your jammies, yet need to run to McDonald's? Here's two words and a hyphen for you: Drive-through!

So what's next, wearing your Snuggie to Subway? Or chilling in your robe in front of the judge?

Just don't try that if you're ever headed to court in Grant County.

Five judges there wanted order brought to the court and took the law into their owns hands, enacting a dress code for Marion courtrooms.

The order prohibits anyone from entering any Marion courtroom wearing pajamas or slippers, mini skirts, short-shorts, tank tops or similar attire, low-cut tops or see-through clothing, clothes that expose a bare midriff or reveal underwear or any clothing that promotes or depicts violence, drug use, profanity or sex acts. Geez, talk about what not to wear. There goes my closet ...

Also, hats. Of course, let's not forget hats. The simple act of removing your hat indoors is an age-old sign of respect, especially in a courtroom or similar setting. Yet, I was in a serious setting the other day when one of the people in charge actually had to ask all the men to remove their hats. Sad. It's all about respect, people, come on.

Meanwhile, dress code violators in Marion will be identified when go through a security checkpoint to enter the courthouse. Any law enforcement officer or court staff member has been empowered to enforce the court order.

It's about time for one of Marion's female judges who says she's literally seen quite enough in her court. That comes after a female spectator put on a not-so-modest exhibition recently.

"To put it nicely," the judge advised, "most of her rear end was hanging out of her shorts. We think she did it for the benefit of her boyfriend who was incarcerated."

The court bailiff told the woman "to dress more appropriately" next time. And you just know there will be a next time.

Another judge says he had a woman seeking a protective order show up in his court wearing her pajamas.

He offered the following snide commentary: "You must have fled your home because you are wearing your night clothes."

Yet she had the nerve to respond with: "Oh no, I dressed up like this to come to court."

While the patient judge took time to tell her that was not OK in his court or the real world in general, in theory he really should have thrown the book at her.

That judge would have been better served just to flip the old Groucho Marx line on its head. You bet your life.

"Show up in my court in pajamas," he instead might have ruled, "and one morning I might shoot you!"

And how he might get away with that, I'll never know ...