Tuesday, May 31, 2011

My Hats Off to You

I am not much of a hat person, only because they don't complement my face. When I wear a hat, no one else has compliments for me either. There are some hats that I just wish I could wear, but until the plastic surgery, it is a no go zone. All that is well and good, but I am also an old-fashioned guy regarding hats and hat etiquette. I may not have been raised in a wealthy household, but my parents learned manners of all kinds and taught them to my brother and me. 

It behooves me that simple etiquette has been cast aside without care. Either parents just don't care, they don't bother, or think it is too old-fashioned to care about. There are numerous exhibitions of disregarding those that we share this planet with, but today my pet peeve is about men who wear hats in the house. There just was not enough time in therapy to root out the reason why this makes me see red, but I come  close to the same reaction as a bull seeing a red cape. 

What is even more disgusting is when a man wears a hat to the table. I have actually asked paying guests to remove their hat while sitting at the breakfast table, but while freeing their hair or hairless scalp, they have to keep that crown covering annoyance a decent contamination-free distance from my table. 

Once I had to ask a non-revenue guest to leave when he refused to shed his derby in my dwelling. It is after all, my domain, you play by my rules or you pay the nightly room rate, but then we still may dicker on particulars. This created that itch to find out more about hat wearing and associated social norms regarding it.

At the turn of the 20th century, all adults wore hats when in public as a matter of personal hygiene; hats were a protection from industrial dirt. I promise, there is no industrial dirt in my place; hold your hat, put it on the bed, but make sure it is not on your head. 

According to etiquette sources, hats are to be removed when inside, except for places vaguely similar to public streets. These can include lobbies, corridors, and crowded elevators in commercial buildings, but not residential. In an office building where there are no residences, the elevator is considered a public area

If alone or with the fellas, you may choose whether or not to remove your hat in a public elevator; however, a gentleman (as opposed to a vulgar pig) takes off his hat, holding it in his hand when a woman enters the elevator in any building that can be classified as a dwelling such as an apartment house or hotel. Once he reaches the corridor, if it is too weighty to hold any longer, the man may now put it back on. He should then get to a gym to work those arm muscles so he can hold the hat a bit longer. Okay, I agree with some of you ladies that this is chauvinist, but bite your lip and let them take that damn hat off. It is certainly not going to kill them. 

Hats are removed for the National Anthem, passing of a flag, funeral processions, outdoor weddings, dedications, and photographs. After a hat is removed, it is held in the hand so that the outer portion is exposed. One must not expose the interior view of a hat. 

Certain places of worship require a head covering for both men and women such as Muslim mosques and Sikh temples. Jewish synagogues require men to have their head covered, but in more orthodox synagogues, only married women wear hats or scarves representing a display of modesty. The small, round head covering or skullcap worn by men is called a “kippah” or in Yiddish a “yarmulke”.  The wearing of the yarmulke is a reminder of humility before God, a mark of respect in Judaism, a sign of recognition of something greater than oneself. This is why many male Jews wear a head covering whenever they are awake, with the exceptions of bathing and swimming. Before you ask, I have no problem with any man wearing a kippah anywhere in my home, including the dinner table, because the underlying reason is so different. 

Women wearing hats has never been much of an issue for me, since most modern women don't wear hats around the house. By etiquette standards, a woman may leave her hat on indoors or while the National Anthem is playing, unless her hat is considered unisex like a baseball cap. When wearing such a unisex cap, a woman should be one of the boys and take the thing off. 

From what I found, the rules were different for the sexes because men's hats are not ornate; therefore, they are easily removed. Women's headgear are decked out with all of those bells and whistles so they look like they won the blue ribbon at the last horse race. They have ribbons, bows, flowers, artificial birds, and other small game. Not only can it be quite a production to remove, but something may escape from it during the turbulence of the removal. Often, these hats are anchored with hatpins, so removing them could cause excessive bleeding in public. No woman wants to display their "hat hair" either, which is likely if the hat were to be extracted. End of today's pet peeve, before I move on to all of my relatives who never absorbed this teaching. 

One last interesting tidbit: A lady (no definition included) never wore hats that had a brim after 5 PM. This rule of fashion was created for practical reasons. After 5 PM, the sun was low enough in the sky, she no longer needed the brim to protect her eyes.

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