Dear Dr. Boli: Why is it that establishments where cheerful and polite customer service is normally a point of pride will nevertheless post a vulgar notice on the front door that says “NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE”? It is not that I object to the dress code—I myself seldom go shopping in less than full morning dress. But I do not like to be spoken to in that tone of voice. —Sincerely, Albert van Vaughan Andover-Ewart, Schenley Heights.
Dear Sir: People will forget themselves and their breeding if they feel they have come up with a very clever put-down. Even the well-intentioned and well-bred find the vulgar cleverness of the slogan “NO SHIRT, NO SHOES, NO SERVICE” irresistible. The only way it could be rendered more clever is by adding rhyme, which would make it positively mesmerizing to the middlebrow mind:
IF YOU DON’T WEAR A SHIRT
YOU’RE GONNA GET HURT
WHAT, NO SHOES, SIR?
YOU’RE A LOSER!
In fact, even as Dr. Boli makes these facetious suggestions, he suspects that someone somewhere will find them, fall under their thrall, and post them in a store window. The only way to break the upward spiral of vulgarity is for county health codes, in addition to specifying the minimum clothing required in commercial establishments, to specify the wording of the posted notice as well, which should be something like this:
SHIRT AND SHOES REQUIRED
BY ORDER OF DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
Once that is accomplished, we can work on the question of whether anything else should be required, or whether we shall continue to raise no objection to sans-culottes shopping in our stores.