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.


  1. I'm with you on all counts, Drew. The "no elbows on the table" and "no hats inside" rules are especially maddening, in my opinion. Thankfully, I give the finger to tradition and break both rules regularly :P

  2. It's from the Bible:

    1 Corinthians

    11:1 Be ye followers of me, even as I also [am] of Christ.
    11:2 Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered [them] to you.
    11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman [is] the man; and the head of Christ [is] God.
    11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having [his] head covered, dishonoureth his head.
    11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with [her] head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
    11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
    11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover [his] head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.
    11:8 For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man.
    11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.
    11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on [her] head because of the angels.
    11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.
    11:12 For as the woman [is] of the man, even so [is] the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
    11:13 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered?
    11:14 Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him?
    11:15 But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for [her] hair is given her for a covering.
    11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

    To be clear, to really honor this rule, ladies should wear hats in church. Sadly, only ostentatious black women still follow the hat rule, but it's definitely an awesome rule.

  3. Elbows: I was told it's because elbows are dirty. (especially kid elbows, or I guess "back in the day" working man elbows) and you don't want them on the table with stuff you eat.

    Hats: Makes it hard to see your eyes. Just like wearing sunglasses inside.

    I don't care much about either issue in my house, but I do think wearing a hat in a car is totally ridiculous.

  4. Bryan: You're a mad man, Ochalla. You should be wearing hats on your elbows by now.

    Carl: I love the logic of "Guys are like God, so they should show it off, but girls are pretty (for men, specifically) so they should not show it off. For the record, a few ostentatious white ladies also rock the church hats. But that's even stranger, when you consider the Biblical source of head-covering. Women should cover up the hair so no one sees her glory. But wouldn't covering it up with a flashy chapeau defeat the point?

    Leslie: Wait, why in a car?

  5. Also, it's been pointed out to me that the rule against elbows on the table may actually be misinterpreted. Originally, it was this: It's rude to prop up your head with your hand (thus necessitating a bent elbow) in the manner of a bored or tired person, because meals are for conversation as much as they are for eating, and it's poor form to suggest to your tablemates that their conversations are anything less than riveting. That one actually makes sense. Of course, in the end, people chose to obey the letter of the law and not the spirit.

  6. "But wouldn't covering it up with a flashy chapeau defeat the point?"

    Uh… The Lord works in mysterious ways.

  7. Anonymous9:13 AM

    you were great in high school musical