— to pass judgment based on one’s clothing or apparel: The man cludged the pastor for having his shirt un-tucked.
—to form a judgment or opinion of a person based on his/her clothing or apparel; decide upon critically based on clothing: You can't cludge a pastor by his cover.
—one who cludges: The cludger said the man looked like he’d been mugged by a GAP mannequin.
Generally, I can handle the cludging. In fact, I enjoy it most of the time. Teasing is my love language. However, today a line was crossed. While washing my hands before church, a man whom I don’t know told me to tuck in my shirt. He did not ask, mind you. He TOLD me to tuck it in. Apparently, there is an unwritten church by-law giving tie-wearing parishioners the right to give orders to church staff. “Tuck in your shirt. Get me some coffee. Mop the floor, and while you’re at it, drop and give me 20.” Unaware of this unwritten by-law, I stood in stunned silence. Realizing that I was a rookie and unaware of the tie-wearer directive, he took a gentler approach. “Why don’t you tuck your shirt in?” he asked, visibly frustrated.
“Hi, I’m Dan. What’s your name?”---No, it was too late for that. He didn’t seem interested in being friends. He was only interested in the 2.5 inches of blue shirt protruding from beneath my jacket. Fortunately, I was raised a pastor’s kid and am used to being judge by strangers. However, the reality remained that a man in a tie purchased decades before the internet was invented was asking me to justify my fashion decisions. Only now does the irony of the situation manifest itself.
I had to act fast. What was I to say? Realizing that any reference to current fashion trends related to shirt tuckage would get me nowhere, I simply said, “It adds dimension to the outfit.” This is true. It really is why I sometimes un-tuck my shirt. The inch or two of shirt tail brings more color and intrigue to the ensemble. Plus, I see it on the mannequins at the store (a good way to choose outfits). It really was a fashion decision, and not an act of youthful rebellion.
“I don’t understand you young people,” he barked as I wished him a nice day.
What concerns me is that I am a paid staff member of our church. If I felt cludged and unwanted, imagine how a guest would have felt. I wish I knew who it was. I didn’t even get a good look at his face. I really was stunned by the whole situation. It was one of the few times that I was at a complete loss for words.
Fortunately, this is not the norm of our church. Most people come to Open Door in jeans and feel very comfortable. Many have said that they come because they don’t feel judged about their clothing. That makes me happy. In fact, this is why you will often see me in jeans.
I’m just afraid for the unheard cludging victims and victimizers, afraid to speak out. Well, I am declaring cludge amnesty. Cludgers and cludged alike are invited to share their hurts and feelings and walk away. Have you cludged or been cludged? Be free today!