By Judy Reiss
My wonderful grandmother was born just after President Abraham Lincoln was killed. I am not quite sure of the date; just I believe it was about 1870. Her stories about her childhood and growing-up experiences made my childhood a wonder! Remember she wore long skirts and corsets and was taught to behave like a lady from day one. And all the men wore hats, top hats when they were dressing up and they always tipped these hats when they passed a lady. Even back in my early days, I thought that this was neat!
When I was growing up, no one wore a top hat. However, all the men I knew did wear hats. My father wore a felt-type hat every day of his working life. And truthfully, I don’t remember boys wearing anything, until they grew up and wore a hat like every other working man they knew. I don’t remember anyone tipping their hat to a woman on a regular basis. But I think they did once in a while when they met an older woman.
Well now, things have certainly changed. I don’t think there is a male still alive who knows (or cares) a thing about tipping his hat to a woman. Hat tipping has gone the way of the dodo, extinct! But it seems hats are another issue all together. Every single male (except my husband) wears a hat, 24/7. And the hat that they wear is a baseball cap. I don’t know when this fashion item took hold, but it has, with a vengeance. It makes no difference if you have one that demonstrates which baseball team, football team, hockey team or even school you go to. And it would seem you can even wear a cap that just expresses some political view that you have! A baseball cap is the definite fashion look of the day. And not just for men either.
I don’t want you to think that I am against baseball caps, because that isn’t quite true. It is true that I prefer them to be worn as designed, which is bill forward which helps keep the sun out of his or her eyes. Backwards just looks stupid.
But, and you knew that there would be a but, what I really hate is that men no longer ever take their caps off. It makes no difference if they are going to dine in a good restaurant, go to class, or spend time with friends in a large group. They always keep their caps on. This drives me crazy, especially when it is an older man. I have gone into many restaurants and seen groups of men and women having dinner and being waited on by a neatly dressed and polite waitperson. The man or men in the group have on baseball caps! What are they thinking? I understand that these caps are part of their persona, but I don’t care. When you come indoors, it is time to take your cap off. Now, if it’s 30 degrees below zero and you have a wool toque on, I am willing to allow you a little leeway. But a baseball cap? Never.
I have to admit that I have been tempted, more than once, to stop as I pass an older man wearing a baseball cap in a restaurant and slap his cap off! I have not done it yet but I have a terrible feeling that it is only a matter of time! Outside at every single event imaginable I am willing to grit my teeth and overlook the caps. I don’t expect them to tip them to me, and that is OK. But in a classroom, a restau-rant or even a concert, a cap is definitely inappropriate.
I know that things have changed. No longer do women have to walk on the sidewalk, inside towards the walls or the grass, leaving the men on the side by the street. When I was a girl that was still the polite things to do, but those days are over. And since the runaway horses are few and far between I am willing to let that go. However, I still think it is nice when men open doors for women, stand up when older people come into a room, open doors for older people, and even pull out a chair for women. These are no longer absolutes, but it sure is nice. Politeness seems to no longer be considered impor-tant and perhaps that is the reason everything seems to be gone and every man and women is for him or herself!
But I am sorry, baseball caps at the dinner table? Absolutely not!