One can ask for permission or one can ask for forgiveness when it comes to rule breaking. But there is something commensurately more satisfying in pointing out the ridiculous nature of the asinine rule itself.
I should have known better than to ask permission. It's always better to ask forgiveness—something I had heard but hadn't quite mastered in my young nineteen years. Needless to say, I learned a valuable lesson regarding the forgiveness-permission correlation on a crisp fall day back in 1990. It all took place at the testing center at what was then known as Ricks College—a place where cheating was not tolerated but immodest dress was abhorred.
Emerging from the world-wide fashion funk of the eighties where I wore nothing but baggy sweatshirts, colorful leggings, and bangs that resembled a poplar tree, I had committed to dressing and looking more (how shall I say it?) refined in college. Okay, the rigid dress code was forced upon me as an extension of scripture, but still, I was determined to look professional and act like a grown up--mostly. That is until the day I decided to boldly test the school's strict dress code policy by wearing my green and red plaid shorts ensemble to take an exam in the testing center. My outfit consisted of a plaid jacket that matched my shorts (of course), off-white tights, gold flats, and a cream colored polyester button-up that provided just the right amount of visual reprieve from my plaid menagerie. Reflecting upon it now, I looked more like a Christmas-loving leprechaun, but by post-eighties fashion standards, I looked polished and professional.
Standing in line and feeling wryly rebellious for breaking the school's no shorts policy, I gloated at the thought of being able to tell my friends and roommates that I had gotten away with wearing shorts to take a test! Their looks of dismay and quiet admiration were forming in my mind, bringing with them an indescribable, sick sense of pleasure. But as the testing center line dwindled, so did my bravado. I began wondering what exactly happened to students who broke rules. I'd never even skipped a day of school before and, at that point in my life, I hadn't even been late to a class! Shamefully, my rebellion subsided and I caved.
Handing the student employee my ID card, I asked him point blank if he was going to “turn me in” because of my shorts (completely oblivious to the fact that he probably would have never even noticed my clothes had I shut my mouth and not said anything—a skill I didn't master until much later in life).
“Yeah, you should probably go home and change,” he said, eyeing the plethora of plaid before him.
My annoyed, “Really?” was then met by an unapologetic nod.
Feeling defeated, I did what any mature and refined nineteen-year-old young lady would do. I went back to my apartment, returning to the testing center some fifteen minutes later, donning a ratty sweatshirt that was four sizes too big, worn out running shoes, and my favorite pair of acid washed jeans--the ones with a hole in the left...eh hem...rear cheek region.
“Is this better?” I asked, handing the same student my ID card.
“Yeah, much better. Thank you for changing,” he whispered.
“Oh, believe me, it was my pleasure,” came my retort as I swaggered past him and sat in a desk at the far end of the room, making sure everyone in the adjacent rows had a view of the butt-revealing tear in the back of my pants.
I suppose it goes without saying...I aced my test that day.