I let to get dressed in work out clothes every morning. It is a visible message to myself that I am going to excerise at some point during the day.
My husband, the priest, said that work out clothes are the standard apparel of every mom at every Episcopal private school he has ever served as the priest for…and it’s true. I never felt out of place dropping off my daughters in my running shorts and t-shirt. So, I was unaware that my ‘uniform’ was going to cause such a stir.
In the warmer months, like even up until late October, I saw people in shorts. Most of them were tourists, but this area is also filled with surfers. Cool dude Portuguese surfers. Waves here are consistent and there are loads of different beaches that offer wave sizes for all levels. I had no idea Cascais was a surfing destination. Anyway, near the ocean wearing shorts might mean you are there getting ready to surf. Wearing shorts going to Starbucks…not cool.
I went for a run, put on a sweatshirt and headed to the mall. It is a 10 minute walk from my house and has everything to make me feel at home…Starbucks. My first warning should have been when my neighbor pretended not to know me. I waved as he walked past me, but no acknowledgement was shown on his side…odd, but he was walking with a friend, so okay, fine. Then I get to the mall and people are openly gawking at me. No shame in shaking their heads at my attire. The barista at Starbucks doesn’t seem to take note, but she might be used to weird foreigners.
I felt naked. I may as well have been walking around in a bikini. I was given dirty look after dirty look from women, kids, old people…no one even tried to hide their disgust. I started enjoying it. It became more than amusing to me. I was a symbol of crazy. A freakish red headed, short wearing, freckled face lady out in the mall alone enjoying my frappucino. Joy.
Then next day, I was walking Piranha, our 15 year old Bichon Frise, in our hood. I see our neighbor again, this time alone, and he acknowledges me. He apologized for ignoring me the day before, but he tells me the Portuguese have strict dress code rules. Shorts are not appropriate when the weather turns cold…point of fact, it was 72 degrees when I wore shorts to the mall. He said my exercise shorts are very frowned upon. Really? I guess the Portuguese are going to have to get used to seeing me in my exercise shorts, because I have no plans on changing my wardrobe now. I mean, honestly if I don’t put on my shorts, I may have to start dressing fancy. Portugal is not ready for that…neither am I.