Thursday, April 05, 2007

what not to wear.

it was gorgeous on sunday. the sun was strong and bright, and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. in fact, the sky was that pretty electric blue color like what we have all the time in colorado. just lovely.

we sat outside in our achtertuin (literally means "back garden." it's like a large terrace with a privacy fence on all sides) all day on sunday, just reading and soaking up the sun. finally, around 4:00, we decided it was time to go get some ice cream.

the ice cream shop is visible from our living room window. it's quite literally around the corner, maybe 20 meters away. and since it was such a nice day, we decided just to go out there and grab a cone and take a little walk.

so we left our house, dressed in what we were wearing already: me in a denim mini skirt and casual shirt, and adam in shorts and a t-shirt.

and you should have seen the looks we were getting. people were staring at us. literally, staring at us, like we were from another planet and had horns growing out of our heads.

now, i'm used to dressing up more here in europe. people do dress nicely here -- matching scarves and fancy coats and polished shoes and all that -- but on a weekend, just going to get an ice cream cone, i'm NOT going to get dressed up.

anyway, we were getting the most condescending looks! we both felt pretty self conscious, but we just decided to go with it cuz it's just ice cream after all. and we didn't know these people, so what did we care what they thought about us?

i was telling this story to my friend, gerben, who works with me. and gerben politely explained to me that it was because it was a sunday that people were giving us those shocked looks. he said that on a saturday, no problem if i want to wear a miniskirt outside the house. but on a sunday, it was highly inappropriate. (he even told me that one time he tried washing his car on a sunday, his mom yelled at him. because it was a sunday.)

anyway, i feel pretty embarassed now about it all. i sincerely hope i didn't offend anyone with my skanky little skirt! chalk it up to a culture clash, i guess. once again, the stupid american makes a cultural faux pas!

this "no casual clothes on sundays" thing surprises me because europe is seen as such a secular place, especially compared with america. but my guess is that europe has had a much longer history of being christian, and those christian values are just still a big part of their tradition and identity. america, i think, is more "religious" than the netherlands, but in holland, all the shops are closed on sundays, we have easter monday off, and it's inappropriate to wear a miniskirt on a church day (even if you're not going to church). in the usa, you can go to target on a sunday morning, wearing whatever you want, and you'd have to be back at work bright and early on easter monday because you've never heard of "easter monday" anyway. it's just "monday." so who is more religious? america might have more church-goers, but i think holland is definitely more christian, at least with some practices.

so now i know what not to wear: NO skanky clothes on sundays. oops!

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