A Non-Regulation Dress Code

, , , , , | Working | August 24, 2020

I’m planning a third date with a guy I really like. He suggests a sports bar that neither of us has tried for brunch because they have a $1 mimosa special, and I agree. I drive us there and the parking lot is almost full, so I drop him off at the door to get us a table while I find a spot.

When I get to the front door, a man in a button-down shirt and slacks reaches over and physically holds the door closed.

Man: “Sorry, ma’am, you’re not allowed in.”

I laugh, thinking he’s joking.

Me: “Okay, sure.”

I try the door again, but he holds it firmly shut.

Man: “No, really. You’re out of dress code.”

He gestures to a small plaque by the door and sure enough, there’s a posted dress code. My crime? “Non-regulation camo” shorts.

Me: “Wow, you must hate the redneck population.”

Man: “We don’t hate anyone, ma’am, but—”

Me: “Yeah, bad joke, whatever. Bye.”

I’ve never been kicked out or denied entry anywhere before and I’m worried that my date will blame me for it, even though I’m quite sure that I never read anything about this place — a sports bar with a $1 mimosa deal — enforcing a dress code. For reference, they happily let him in wearing torn jeans and a band T-shirt.

Thankfully, he’s easy to find because he chose a spot on the patio. I walk over and get his attention.

Me: “We have to go. They won’t let me in. I’m violating their dress code.”

I explain the situation.

Date: “WHAT?”

He looks thunderous, and my next fear is that he’ll kick up a fuss. If this place wants to enforce a dress code, then fine, and I don’t want him to browbeat the front door guy or a manager about it.

Date: “Do you want me to cause a scene? Yes or no.”

Me: *Pause* “What?”

Date: “If you want, I’ll go talk to someone. I’m a veteran and I think the camo rule is bulls***. Just say the word.”

Me: “No. I absolutely don’t want that. Even if they let me in, I don’t want to eat here anymore. Honestly, I’m feeling kind of humiliated. This isn’t the hill I want to die on, and I just want a God d*** mimosa somewhere else.”

Date: “All right.” *Hops the barrier* “Somewhere else, then.”

In hindsight, this experience was a watershed moment for me: instead of flying off the handle and shouting at waitstaff just to be performatively masculine or protective or whatever, he asked what I wanted to do. He was prepared to stand up for me if I really wanted to eat there but equally prepared to accept my decision to let the matter lie and go elsewhere. That kind of thoughtfulness stuck with me. Afterward, I went to the bar’s website and triple-checked: absolutely no mention of a dress code anywhere to be seen.

Anyway, we married a few years later and never went back to that bar. He also teased me about my “non-regulation camo” whenever I wore those shorts after that.


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