Tuesday, October 25, 2011

My Rude Hat (A Question in Need of an Answer)

Except for the part where you’re not supposed to say anything unless it’s nice (because my humor is mean-spirited and without mean jokes I worry I’d just be etymology trivia, anecdotes about old video games and some combination of these two), I do try to follow rules. The kinds that go in various governmental books prevent us from devolving into hooting monkeys, and the kinds that remain in our grandmother’s heads (and hearts and souls) make us at least monkeys who hoot politely and wear pants. I won’t argue with this, and you shouldn’t either.

I do, however, find fault with the rules that don’t make any sense, because when you obey the spirit of law that has no, like, physical body attached to it, you verge on superstition. Chewing with your mouth open? A no-brainer. It’s gross. Someone else’s mostly masticated, saliva-soaked food looks quite a bit like vomit, and it’s unappetizing to see someone else’s vomit any time much less at mealtime. (I wager that no one would ever break this rule if the human eye were able to swivel around and somehow watch its neighbor mouth as it chews food, for it would appear no less disgusting than it would in someone else’s mouth.) Other rules confuse me. For example, why is it considered rude to place your elbows on a dining table during a meal? What is it about a goddamn raised surface that happens to be supporting food that makes it so special? Clearly nothing. No one has ever been explained to me why this act is considered rude, and I think there is in fact no reason, which is why more and more members of polite society eat with their elbows resting comfortably at the same level as their dinner plate. Similarly but on the opposite end of the scale of meaningfulness: the prohibition against gay marriage. Obviously, people are gradually realizing they have no reason to refuse this small (but important) group of people this basic human right, and so they say, “Feh. Do whatever you want, you crazy kids,” especially because other places have condoned it without having been swallowed by The Void or plagued by ghosts or hit with natural disasters any harder than any other part of the world.

So that brings me to my question: What the hell is the problem with wearing a hat indoors? Fewer and fewer people consider this rude, and so we see people (mostly men) strutting about be-capped in homes and casinos and museums and other places. Yet the admonitions of my mother and grandmother ring in my ears whenever I do, particularly during meals. (What is our deal with eating. Is this a Last Supper thing? I’ll bet it is.) So please, someone, explain to me why this rule of etiquette ever existed, so I can realize that its origins are silly and I can put it out of my head once and for all.


I swear I’m not, like, hiding a sword under my hat, or whatever other medieval times-originated worry is responsible for the hat hatred.

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