Beach Hats are for Beaches

I was out of town modeling today.  No, I am not going to share photos, primarily because it was a nasty, gross, wet, rainy day, and the photos serve as evidence that I looked like a drowned rat.  I’m not sure what I expected.  That “humidity blocker” I put on my hair, while fantastic, can only do so much.  Especially in a downpour.  And when the “runway” includes a trip out one of the store’s doors, down a sidewalk, and back into another door, well, that’s lots of exposure to humidity.  I’m pretty sure the “runway” wasn’t to  blame, though; I’m pretty sure it was due, at least in part, to my refusal to use an umbrella.  Instead, I pulled the hood on my hoody up over my head, unibomber-style, and hustled from the house to the car, and then from the car to the store.  Yeah, I’m guessing that didn’t do a whole lot for the curls I fairly hurriedly put in my hair, foolishly thinking that would stand up to the weather better than straight hair would.  Oh, well.  Guess my instinct that today would be better as a yoga-pants-and-sweatshirt-on-the-couch-with-a-book day was correct.  

Clearly, my approach to keeping my hair under control was not the correct one.  I’m not sure this one was the correct approach, either…

Ladies and gentlemen, that is a beach hat, not a rain hat.  She wasn’t trying this on at an end-of-the-season beach accessory sale; she was in the Coach store, and she was wearing this gem when she came in.  I’ll give her that she was quite color-coordinated, but I’m not sure how Miss Thang here thought that floppy-brimmed straw hat was appropriate protection from what was, at times, a torrential downpour.  (I am also not entirely certain that I got away with taking this photo without being caught; I am, however, quite certain I don’t care.)  I saw lots of other folks going the hood-up-on-the-hoody route; there were numerous baseball caps; I saw rain ponchos; and of course, there were oodles of umbrellas.  This was the only beach hat I saw.  I suspect that is because most of us had more sense — both fashion and common — than that.

Amusement in Everyday Life

I have seen so many people do and say so many amusing, odd, and/or unexpected things in courtrooms that you’d think I wouldn’t be shocked or entertained anymore.  Thankfully, the fun-factor associated with that has not yet worn off, even after 13 (sometimes very long) years.  (Hey, one has to find ones amusement where she can!)
Several years ago when I was a deputy prosecutor, I observed a young woman attempt to get herself out of going to jail by “fainting” in the courtroom.  It was quite spectacular and dramatic.  She locked her entire body and fell over timber-style.  She was fortunate she wasn’t standing an inch or two in back of where she was, or the back of her head would have smaked the glass-over-wood-topped counsel table that was positioned behind her.  Once she fell backward and no one in the courtroom went into an appropriate level of hysterics, she remained still and prone for a few moments, then began attempting to peek out of one eye to see what we were doing.  Of course an ambulance was called to check her out, but once it was ascertained that she was fine (and faking), the she still needed to use the phone to call in incarcerated to work.

A few years ago when I was in private practice, I represented a very sweet lady in a divorce.  Her soon-to-be ex-husband had consented, so she and I showed up at the courthouse to go through the required process for obtaining a default divorce.  As we sat in the courtroom awaiting our turn, my client looked around wide-eyed at the other people who were also waiting for their respective cases to be called, and asked if all of those people were there to get divorced.  I explained that a lot of them were, but some were likely there on other matters.  My client then remarked that maybe she should hang around in the lobby after we finished in the hope of meeting some newly eligible men.  This was before the ink was even on her divorce decree, much less before it was dry!! And I still chuckle to this day when I think of the judge’s face when, as he was signing the copies of her divorce decree, my client piped up out of nowhere and asked, “Judge, do you know anyone?”  He looked at me with a puzzled expression as I managed to somehow choke out, “Judge, nevermind”, and rapidly usher my client out of the courtroom without losing my composure and busting out laughing.  You just never know what people are going to do.

This week, I watched what looked to be a fifty-something year old woman standing in front of the judge having a case continued to another date.  The woman asked the judge a question, and as he is prohibited by law from giving her legal advice, he told her, “Now, I can’t answer that.”  Immediately following his words, she cocked one hip to the side, tilted her head, stuck her bottom lip out, and pouted to the Judge.  It didn’t do her a lick of good, and he somehow managed to refrain from commenting on it.  I thought I would crack up.  Here’s the thing: this was not a woman most would call attractive, or hot, or even really average.  She was kind of short and dumpy, and had features that suggested she might be depriving a well-deserving bridge of its troll.  That should not have been a factor in this situation, since the judge cannot advise the attractive any more than he can advise the unfortunate-looking, but I just cannot imagine when in her life that pouting routine successfully obtained whatever it was she was seeking with any degree of success. 

The attorney next to me in the line to appear in front of the judge and I were getting a kick out of her antics, however, and when he stepped up to call his case, he said he was going to try that pouting maneuver if he didn’t get his way.  Um, yeah… Good luck with that… I’ll just wait over here and watch.

Gosh, I hope the entertainment value never goes away.

Rhinestone Cowgirls & Courtrooms

Sometimes people show up for court and there is nothing inherently wrong with what they are wearing other than the fact they simply look as if they are dressed for something other than an 8 a.m. court appearance.  I give you the following as an example.  I call her the Rhinestone Cowgirl.

This particular defendant showed up in court wearing her Western cut jeans, a Western-style blingy belt and hair barrette, large silver jewelry, and a bejeweled Western-style blouse.  She looked as if she’d be more at home on the range than hanging out in a courtroom.  Again, there was nothing really wrong with her outfit; it just didn’t really blend with the rest of the characters in the room.  The fact that a glance at her started, “One of these things is not like the others” from Sesame Street running through my head made snapping and sharing a photo necessary.
As you can see from her body language, she was doing a fair bit of swaying to and fro, and she seemed a wee bit on the attitudinal side.  When she sat down, the bailiff said to the attorney who had been speaking with her, “this is your brain on drugs…” Hmm… Maybe that explains the outfit.  She heard there would be judging and in her drug-addled stated mistakenly assumed she was headed to a rodeo and livestock show. 

Hospitals and Handwashing

So last evening while hanging out in the ICU waiting area at one of the local hospitals with my sweetie and his family, I excused myself to go to the ladies’ room.  The ladies’ room in that area has two stalls.  It also has two soap dispensers, two sinks and one paper towel dispenser.  When I walked in the restroom was occupied by one other person.  She was washing her hands, and left about the time I got the door locked on the first stall.  Another individual came in as I was finishing my business and went into the other stall. 
Upon concluding my business, I stopped at the sink to wash my hands.  I was doing just that when the other individual came out of her stall, making a beeline for the door without giving so much as a moment’s hesitation to consider washing her hands.  As the door closed behind her, I said one word — “Seriously?” —  to her retreating back. 
Yes, I’m probably fortunate she didn’t come back to confront me (although I think I could have taken her) but I meant what I said.  Seriously?!  She was in a hospital where people are often sick — and contagious.  She utilized a public restroom that had been utilized by who knows how many people prior to her occupying it, and who knows what those individuals had been exposed to, and she didn’t even stop to wash her hands?  Seriously?  Gross.  Even if that isn’t something one does normally — I’m not discussing that right now other than to say “gross!” — I would think one would take the time in a hospital of all places.  I swear, people scare me.

You Can’t Make This Stuff Up

A few weeks ago I attended court in Missouri.  It was a day on which I was scheduled to appear in two divisions of the Court at the same time. I appeared in my “usual” division on the first floor of the courthouse, and in another division on the third floor.  By the end of the morning, I felt like a little kid playing on the elevator, I was up and down so many times.  (Sorry, but I don’t do stairs in heels and dress pants with any width to the legs after getting such a shoe caught in my pantleg a year and a half ago and pitching forth from the sixth step up to the ground below where I landed solidly on my posterior.  Serious OUCH!) 
It was a criminal docket day in the courtroom on the third floor, which meant my case, the lone civil case on the docket that day, was going to be the last thing to be heard.  (Criminal takes precedence over civil, if you didn’t know.)  As a result, I ended up sitting through numerous arraignments and plea agreements, none of which were particulary interesting, before the judge arrived at the last case to be heard before mine.  It was a preliminary hearing, so there was going to be witness testimony.  While we waited patiently (or impatiently, as the case may be) for the witnesses to make their way up to the courtroom from their holding area (aka, the victim/witness office), I hoped the judge would take up my case and I could skedattle on out of there.  (I only needed one little bitty order signed.)  As luck would have it, that did NOT happen and I ended up continuing to wait my turn through the preliminary hearing.
Let me just say, for those who don’t know, I used to be a deputy prosecuting attorney, and once upon a time, my primary area of prosecution was in domestic violence, so when I tell this story, please understand I am in no way minimizing or making fun of what the alleged victims in this case went through, nor am I judging the validity of their statements to the police or their testimony in court.  I’m just telling you what I heard and sharing my commentary.
Without going into the whole long story, the gist of the situation is this: Defendant hit on Victim #1 in the parking lot of the Kum & Go, and when she rejected him, he “pulled out his penis and hit [her] on the leg with it”.  Okay, SOOOO didn’t see that statement coming from the context of her earlier testimony.  Then on a separate day, Defendant hit on Victim #2 as she walked down the street.  She went in the Kum & Go to get a soda — Memo to Self: Stay the heck away from the Kum & Go, as it is apparently the root of all criminal and deviant behavior in Springfield — hoping to lose the Defendant.  She was unsuccessful and he continued following her.  She testified that he eventually got out of his vehicle and approached her from behind and “tried to grab [her] boob off”.  She also testified that he stuck his hand up her shorts and touched her ladyparts.  When asked by the prosecutor if there was penetration when this happened, she responded, “Umm…. Not that I know of???”  (Okay, I’m not going to touch this statement other than to say you’d think one would know!!)
The kicker came on cross-examination when the defendant’s attorney asked if she was sure his client was the guy who did these things.  She affirmed that she was sure, and he asked how she knew.  She then stated, “I mean, I’m used to it.  Guys look at me, the talk to me, they show me their penises, but they usually go away when I tell them to.”  I’m sorry, what???  Where the heck does this young woman go that what naturally follows a glance or a pickup line is the brandishing one’s parts to her?  Did she actually just say that?!  The defendant’s attorney was recording her testimony with a micro-cassette recorder, so I’m pretty sure that phrase is going to be rehashed at some point down the road.  I don’t think I have to tell you that the defendant was bound over for trial. 
I think the guy, who had an entire courtroom pew filled with his cheering section, is a complete schmuck, and hope he enjoys those stripes he was wearing because I predict — and hope — he is going to be wearing a siminar outfit for a long time to come.  Meanwhile, I’d really like to know where Victim #2 goes that guys look at her, talk to her, and show her their parts.  I know already to stay away from the Kum & Go, but I’d like a list of the other location(s) so I can be sure not to frequent them…

A Word (or Several) on Proper Courtroom Attire

I have been fortunate to practice law in multiple courtrooms in two different states.  While the way judges conduct their respective dockets is different from state to state, county to county, and even courtroom to courtroom, one thing seems to remain constant: The parties, witnesses, and observers who come to court don’t have the slightest clue about appropriate attire.  

Once upon a time, when one wanted to convey to someone that he/she should dress nicely, the words, “wear your Sunday best” were frequently used.  In the good old days that implied a suit, or at least clean jeans and a button-down shirt for the guys, and a dress or a skirt and blouse for the ladies.  Now, however, with so many churches and religious institutions going to a more “casual” service to cater to those who want to roll out of bed and onto a pew, using the phrase “Sunday best” no longer ensures that the advisee will understand how he/she is to dress.  After all, these days one’s “Sunday-go-to-meeting” clothes are the same as those worn to Walmart, which often translates to pajama bottoms and a t-shirt/sweatshirt/tanktop.  What makes makes such an outfit one’s “Sunday Best” is the fact that said pajama bottoms and top actually match one another, whereas any time other than Sunday, matching is not guaranteed.  

I once had a client show up to get divorced wearing khaki cargo shorts.  Needless to say, the judge was less than impressed.  My client explained that he had his U-Haul loaded and was moving somewhere in the northwest the instant the decree was signed, and all his other clothes were packed.  The judge glowered at my client over his glasses and strongly suggested he should have kept some long pants out to wear to court, but thankfully allowed him to go through the requisite motions to get divorced rather than making him unpack his U-Haul in the courthouse parking lot to find something more appropriate to wear.  

Because people simply don’t have good sense these days, more and more courts have started posting a dress code at the door so people know what is and is not acceptable.  Dress codes aren’t new.  Several years ago I attended court at a facility that posted a sign on the door stating defendants who appeared in shorts and/or tank tops would be sent home to change clothes.  These days, however, the signs have gotten much more specific.  I give you the following:


It is a sad state of attire when it becomes necessary to tell people they shouldn’t expose their respective midsections, or that it isn’t appropriate to wear tube tops, halter tops, bathing suits, pajamas, lingerie, helmets, or clothing depicting gang-related messages or obscenities to court.  Seriously?  It’s sort of like the warning labels on products.  You just know that someone tried to dry his/her hair in the shower; otherwise, why would that warning be necessary?  I can just see some nitwit wearing his Speedo to court and thinking if it’s okay to wear to a public beach or pool — it isn’t, by the way — that it is okay to wear it to court.  WHO DOES THAT??? (Yes, I’m sure it’s more likely that some female showed up wearing her bikini top, but I’m having fun with this.)

And then I see something like the following, and understand why such an admonition is necessary.

This young woman was entering the Greene County Courthouse in Greene County, Missouri wearing a black strapless maxi dress.  I’m not sure when strapless maxi dresses became appropriate courtroom attire.  In fact, I’m pretty sure they aren’t appropriate.  I don’t know if she was a party to an action, a witness, or a spectator, but I’m thinking this ought to fit somewhere on the “Thou Shalt Not Wear” list.

Speaking of strapless maxi dresses, next we have:

“Now, wait, Jenn. That dress appears to have straps,” you may be saying.  I assure you, this was a strapless maxi dress.  Those black straps you see — the left of which is serving double-duty as a keyring holder — are her bra straps.  I am pretty sure this violates the “dress code” in more ways than one.  That includes the matching pink flip-flops.  (Note: this photo was also taken outside the Greene County Courthouse in Greene County, Missouri.  I have not personally observed a dress code posted at that courthouse; the two dress codes I posted are from other courthouses in other counties.)  

And today we had this gem:

True story: I was thrilled to death to see this young woman walking across the parking lot at the courthouse in Greene County, Missouri — are you sensing a trend here? — this afternoon.  In fact, I hustled across the parking lot myself just to be sure I didn’t miss the opportunity to snap a photo of this incredibly questionable fashion decision.  

As I’m sure you can tell, the dress — yes, it’s a dress — is one-shouldered.  It is EXCEPTIONALLY short, and her pasty-white legs are showing all the way to her … ahem… biscuit.  (Yes, I am guilty of having watched an episode or several of Honey Boo Boo.)  As a friend of mine pointed out, you know having a small child with her, she has to bend down and stretch up, “neither of which would be good”.  I pointed out at the the small child might actually be a saving grace since his foot may be the only thing holding the hem of that Flintstonesesque number down.  Another friend argued that the pink flower in her hair makes it professional.  (I agreed, assuming we are talking about a professional hooker.)  I have no idea what sort of matter this young woman was appearing on.  All I know is she hopped on the elevator and was gone before I had an opportunity to test my covert iPhone photography skills by snapping a photo of the front of the dress.  This fact still saddens me.  Ladies, even if the sign doesn’t specifically say it, a one-shouldered dress has no place in a courtroom, and the only place a crotch-skimming one belongs is on a street corner.  

Were do these people come from?  Didn’t their mothers teach them anything about dressing properly for a given situation?  Don’t they have mirrors at their houses?  And to the last young lady: Do you really thinking you looked so smoking hot in this dress that we would look past the sheer inappropriateness of it?  Because I can assure you, everyone who saw you was indeed speechless, but not in a good way.

Dressing for the Body You Have

Anyone who has ever watched an episode of What Not to Wear has heard the phrase, “Dress for the body you have, not the body you want”.  To that thought, I’d like to add the following: The fact that something comes in what is theoretically your size does not mean that you should wear it.  

It’s a harsh fashion reality that all styles do not look good on all bodies.  For example, those colored skinny jeans in neon colors you saw on the skinny-mini at the mall last week?  

Yeah, not a good look on this body.  In fact, I’m going to go so far as to say they are emphasizing the size of her posterior.  NOT in a good way.  And her friend who told her those looked great?  Yeah, SO not a true friend.

Another thing about dressing for the body you have: You might want to make sure that body is properly covered.  This plea goes for the size zeros out there, and the not-so-small folks alike.  For the love of all that is good and holy, no one needs or wants to see your undergarments, or the parts of your body that your undergarments are failing to cover.  I cite the following from a local minor league baseball game as an example:

(Note: I did not snap this photo; a friend who attended the game with me did, and she was kind enough to forward it to me.)  How does one NOT know that one’s posterior is showing?  I know it was a hot day, but did she not feel the breeze???  How is this look even comfortable???  And again I feel compelled to ask, is anyone else old enough to recall the good old days when one’s bra was worn to “lift and separate”, but was not intended to be displayed?  I don’t need to see the exhibition of anyone’s bra straps, much less the entire back of the bra.  And really?  There is no reason I should know that she is wearing a thong, what color her thong is, or that said thong doesn’t match her bra.  That whale tale ought to be fully covered by her pants — or even a longer top — and that is a fact regardless of her size. 

I understand that people come in all shapes and sizes, and regardless of the reason, some people are larger than others.  Regardless of one’s size, however, one should dress in a manner that is appropriate for her body, and — PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT — that doesn’t subject the rest of us to  unsightly images that we can’t unsee now matter how badly we wish we could.