Kari, my friend here in Mazatlan, was checking out the silent auction items at the annual Hospice Dinner/Dance when a woman approached her to make small talk–not atypical at these events. My friend shared that the lady was decked out with jewels dripping from every uncovered area of skin. The lady asked if Kari had been to Mexico before. When Kari answered “for 30 years,” the lady’s tone changed.
“I’m going to get to the point,” she declared. “I noticed you are dressed very nicely, but your husband has on shorts. That is entirely inappropriate for an event like this. If you look around, the men here have on slacks which is the custom in Mexico.”
Kari was speechless. There were close to 1000 people at this fundraiser, and the stranger had appointed herself the Sergeant-at-Arms for evening attire. “I just thought you should know for the future,” she said before disappearing into the crowd.
Kari returned to her table and shared what happened with our friends who immediately offered to take the woman to the parking lot and beat her up. (We’re close like that.)
Dave and I heard the story the following morning when we drove Kari to church. What my friend did next was a brave move. She sought out the stranger and confronted her, sharing that Rob, her husband, had on “nice” shorts (not the cargo ones he was wearing before Kari asked him to change) and a nice shirt, that there were a few other men there in shorts, that she doubted the Hospice leadership recognized a difference between the way people were dressed when it came to accepting their monetary donations, and that if it were that big of a deal, the tickets should indicate so. The stranger did not back down.
I told my friend what she should have said. “Thank you for letting me know that. Rob and I will take back our $10,000 donation since Hospice is so embarrassed by the way he is dressed.” ( Clever, right?) But since we were on our way to church, I offered a nicer counter. “I’m wondering why you are putting so much emphasis on how people are dressed. One day we will all stand before God and be judged on what’s in our hearts. He won’t care how many jewels we own or how we look to other people.”
Of course, then the meddlesome woman probably would have taken me to the parking lot and beaten me up.
What the stranger didn’t know—and maybe wouldn’t have cared to know–is that Kari is a Christian but her husband is an atheist. It has not been easy. She and I are in a Bible study together in which last week’s Philippians’ study guide asked a question about what we could do that week to be more Christlike. Kari had shared with her husband that her goal that week was to complain less (Chapter 2, vs. 14: Do all things without complaining or disputing.) His response? “We’ll see how long that will last.” I couldn’t help but groan.
And here is a busybody who wants Kari to be sure Rob understands the wardrobe rules of Mexico! An argument my friend chose not to have.
Here’s how I see it. Should Rob have worn slacks? Probably. (He doesn’t even own a pair.) But not at the expense of Kari nagging or driving a wedge in their relationship.
Perhaps Nosey-Nelly was trying to be helpful. Seriously, perhaps she was. Or perhaps her self-worth came from the gems she wore while her heart remained under-dressed and critical, which in my opinion is far more destructive than her prying personality.
And then again, whatever the case, perhaps none of it is any of my business.