They identify as prats

This one is just frivolous, but it’s so peculiar I can’t resist it.

The CBC reports:

A Washington state couple preoccupied with reliving the Victorian era — from their icebox to their undergarments — were asked to change out of their traditional costumes or leave Butchart Gardens near Victoria.

I remember reading about that couple; I thought maybe I’d blogged about them but if so I can’t find it. They do their “Victorian” thing all the time…except of course that they don’t, because for instance they blog about it, and Victorians didn’t have “blogs.” But apart from the internet and similar minor details, they pretend to be living in the 19th century full-time.

The Port Townsend couple booked tickets to lunch at Butchart Gardens in advance and couldn’t wait to see the world-famous floral displays.

Sarah wore a floor-length striped frock and hat, while Gabriel looked smart in a suit.

But they could not believe it when they arrived and were refused entry — because of their clothes.

“We’ve worn this type of clothing before and we’ve never been turned away before. Never had this sort of official banishment,” Gabriel told CBC News.

Sarah Chrisman

Sarah Chrisman enjoys the foliage in her finery at Abkhazi Garden in Victoria. (Sarah Chrisman/Facebook)

There’s another not-quite-Victorian item – Facebook.

But you know…if I had a garden that people paid to look at, I wouldn’t much want her in it either. Why? Because the way she’s dressed is attention-grabbing, and I wouldn’t want people being distracted from the flowers when they’d paid to look at the flowers rather than Sarah Chrisman. She’s both conspicuous and silly-looking (because who the hell voluntarily wears a corset and a skirt down to the ground? in summer?), and I would probably want to tell her to go away just for that reason.

They of course are pretending it’s a Political Issue.

They protested loudly on their blog This Victorian Life, and many readers chimed in with their dismay and support.

The couple said there seemed to be a concern at the gardens that they’d be confused for Butchart staff members.

But then they were offered the loan of staff uniforms so they could still tour the premises, which made no sense to the resplendent pair.

“It would go entirely against our principles to do so. Our clothes are part of our identity,” said Sarah. “Clothes are far too intimate a thing to allow someone to strip off of us.”

Ahhh there it is – the plaintive cry of the Identity Bird.

Clothes are just clothes. In public there are certain conventions about them, some of which can be pushed or ignored but others of which can’t. Mostly people are free to prance around the town in costume, but what they can’t do is expect no one to notice. People do notice costumes, and that’s why Butchart Gardens has a longstanding policy against them.

In a written statement, Butchart Gardens said the policy to ban costumes has been in place “for many years,” as it distracts visitors trying to enjoy the gardens.

“For the enjoyment and safety of all visitors, and to preserve our tranquil atmosphere, the Butchart Gardens joins many international attractions … in not permitting costumes or masks to be worn on-site,” Butchart said.

The gardens noted that Disney theme parks, SeaWorld parks, and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts also have costume and mask restrictions.

But the pretend Victorians of course don’t see it that way.

Our clothes are wrapped up in the most intimate way possible with our own identities. (I’ve written an entire book on the subject, for goodness’ sakes.) This man was telling us that to enter this place we had paid an inordinate amount of money to visit, we would first have to strip off our very identities. No.

So entitled, so self-absorbed, so self-important. She seems to expect the people at Butchart Gardens to know all this about the couple, and to care, and to suspend their own rules because of it. Why would they do that?

That one word “identity” has a lot to answer for.

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