Sunday, March 11, 2007

Hat Tricks

So last night we decamp at a franchise "family" restaurant that we have enjoyed in the past (although, considering that 50% didn't feel well later and my lasagna tasted like it had been in the freezer to long and then in the microwave too long, we may not be frequenting it so much in the future), and as I glance around the room I count no fewer than seven men sitting their with their idiotic caps glued to their heads. (The smoking section was behind me, and I didn't bother to run around and take a head count--or hat count--but I imagine there were a couple there as well.)

At the risk of revealing my Stone Age roots, I was always taught that a gentleman removes his hat or cap in a building, certainly in a restaurant, and particularly when dining.

Of course, my putting the word "gentleman" in the above sentence may serve to put the whole thing to rest.

Three of the offending caps were all to be found at one long table whose occupants appeared to be family, so perhaps it's hereditary. One of the men, who looked to be in his twenties, not only wore his stupid cap all through dinner, but also wore it backward. This I could not fathom. He wasn't wearing a catcher's mask, so why he turned his hat around is a mystery. And if he wants that "beanie look," why doesn't he go out and buy a beanie?

I was reminded of the scene in The Sopranos in which, annoyed by a doofus wearing his cap in a "nice" restaurant, Tony Soprano "inspires" the clod to remove it. Alas, I am no Tony Soprano.

I was reminded also of a student I had several years ago who was never to be seen without his painter's-style cap. Most peculiar. I did happen to see his graduation picture, so I know there was nothing wrong with his hair. I also know he didn't work as a painter. He did work for a vinyl-sign company, so maybe that was close enough. Nice enough fellow, but because of the cap he always put me in mind of Sylvester P. Smythe, the mascot of the Mad magazine imitator Cracked:
But of course all etiquette is arbitrary and subjective, and a lot of it downright strange. In Christian churches, men remove their hats as a sign of respect.* But in Muslim and some Jewish worship settings, men cover their heads as a sign of respect.

In that context, then, perhaps my fellow diners were mentally chiding me for not wearing a hat during dinner.

*Some years ago my son was invited to attend a Vacation Bible School at a friend's church. At the introductory night for parents, I was mentally tsk-tsking in one dipstick who not only failed to remove his stupid cap in the building, but kept it on even when we entered the Sanctuary for the "family worship" part of the evening. Imagine my surprise upon learning that the dipstick was one of the pastors.

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