Where Dockers fear to tread

One place you’ll go this week is to work. Most of you, anyway. After that, there’s only one other establishment I’m confident you will visit in the next seven days. Not a restaurant, not a bar and not a fitness joint. It’s the place that we still generically refer to as “the store,” that gigonderous cinder block box filled from wall to wall with an array of consumables that would make your average Zambian, Iraqi or Albanian break down and weep with the sheer joy of being in the presence of bodacious abundance.

Yeah, you’ll go to the store this week. Unless you’re one of those vicious fiends who always gets the spouse to go. Or unless you’re a single man, in which case you’ll make the trip three to five times.

Generally, we seem to regard going to the store as a fairly major pain in the ass. You don’t often hear friends and family speak with excited anticipation about visiting the store this afternoon. It’s just not as much fun as loafing, and we intuitively sense that going to the store cuts directly into our precious daily allotment of loafing minutes.

Since we’re miffed at losing loafing time, many of us show our miffedness with the store experience by refusing to upgrade our appearance for the trip. You talk about a haven for slovens, slouches and slobs. You see people wearing getups in the store that I’m not sure they would wear any place else besides a trip to the desert to dump an old stove into a ravine.

It’s as if we all understand, through some unspoken common agreement, that we somehow become exempt from the laws of fashion and public opinion when we make trips to the store. We know we can get away with our most casual hideousness, within legal limits, and I’m sure we’ve all seen jumpsuits at the store that are skating on some pretty thin ice in the legal department. We know we can roam the aisles in raggedy sweatshirts, tattered sneakers and paint-spattered pants with no social price to pay.

Or am I just lying to myself here?

Recently, I decided to dress down for a Saturday trip to the market. Considering my “thrift store meets Green Acres” look at the time of this decision, that’s gettin’ pretty down. My statement featured the baggy old black pants with the paint smears and rock star-style ripped knees, an ancient gray sweatshirt flecked with permanent Clorox-defying taco sauce stains and a lumpy, misshapen baseball cap that looks like it fell under a bunch of prancing Clydesdales. Footwear was a pair of Birks charmingly highlighted by gray sweat socks with holes in each big toe.

Nobody batted an eye. Nobody did a double take.

Although Millie on checkout lane No. 5 gave me a look that said, "that’s a bit much."