What Would Biff And Muffy Wear?

THE TALK

August 28, 2009|By Laura Vozzella | Laura Vozzella,laura.vozzella@baltsun.com

On an old "Seinfeld" episode, George gets invited to a dance club where the dress code is "smart casual." Stumped, he asks Jerry, "What is that?"

"I don't know," Jerry replies, "but you don't have it."

Let's hope the people who live by Baltimore Country Club's Five Farms course in Lutherville not only know what constitutes "country club casual," but have it. Otherwise, they won't be able to drive to or from their houses for nearly a week.

The country club sent a letter to neighbors recently alerting them that a stretch of Mays Chapel Road will be closed Sept. 29 through Oct. 4, when the Constellation Energy Senior Players Championship comes to Five Farms.

Mays Chapel is a public road, but the club gets permission to shut it to through traffic because players and spectators have to cross during the tournament. People who need to travel that stretch to get to and from their homes are entitled to passes that get them past security.

In previous years, the club mailed or delivered the passes to area homes. Because passes have occasionally gotten lost en route, this year the club is requiring that neighbors pick them up at the clubhouse - and dress like Biff and Muffy when they do.

"[P]lease note that appropriate 'Country Club Casual' dress is required when entering the Clubhouse to pick up your passes," the club's letter says.

"Isn't that ridiculous?" said Mimi Williams, 89, a retired educator who lives on Chapel Ridge Road. "Perhaps I should wear a formal dress with a lot of rhinestones and high-heeled shoes."

Is it really possible, in the Land of the Free, that Americans can be forced off a public road and into Lilly Pulitzer frocks and goofy whale-print slacks?

Country club casual, as defined on the club's Web site, doesn't actually dictate preppy designers. But it does outlaw denim. And cutoffs. And shorts, skirts and dresses that are not "appropriate and conservative length." And exposed midriffs. And Crocs and Croc knockoffs. And for men, collarless shirts, untucked shirts and open-toe shoes.

"That clause in that letter probably should have been omitted," said Michael Stott, the club's general manager. "We did not mean to offend anybody."

At the same time, Stott said the club is not requiring anything of neighbors that it doesn't demand from members.

"Certain facilities require certain dress codes," he said. "We like to keep that kind of decorum at the club."

Stott said the club is good to its immediate neighbors and the larger community. The tournament generates "tens of millions" in economic development dollars and raises about $400,000 for local charities, he noted. The club gives neighbors free one-day passes to the tournament and tries to keep them abreast of goings-on at Five Farms.

Just the other day, the club held one of its semi-annual meetings with neighbors to talk about the tournament and other events. The invitation to the meeting, extended in aforementioned letter, noted that "appropriate 'Country Club Casual' dress is required when entering the Clubhouse for the meeting."

Mistimed outing

Maryland Politics Watch reported a great gotcha: As Gov. Martin O'Malley announced Tuesday that he would lay off 205 state employees and furlough 70,000 others, Labor Secretary Tom Perez and his senior staff were off golfing and drinking during work hours.

The Web site had a great headline, too: "O'Malley Cuts, Perez Slices."

What the story lacked, however, were the facts, according to Elizabeth Williams, senior operations officer for the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

Perez and the six others who golfed used personal leave time for the outing and paid their own way, she said. Two other staffers joined them for drinks, but after 5:30 p.m.

"No state time was used and no state dollars were used," Williams said.

Adam Pagnucco, who penned the Perez item, said he's filing a Public Information Act request to confirm that. "In any event, they should not have scheduled an impromptu vacation for cut day," he told me via e-mail.

Williams conceded as much. "I appreciate the timing might not be the greatest," she said.

Regret the era?

Baltimore City's Department of Recreation and Parks weighed in on Sen. Ted Kennedy's passing on its official Twitter feed: "Today, ends the error of Camelot." I think they meant "era." But maybe the municipal Twitterer has just had it with the Kennedys.

Laura Vozzella's column appears Fridays.

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