The Attorney At Large’s Guide to Urban Manners, Part I: Hats
Posted on May 25th, 2011
Look, I realize not everybody read a 1960s edition of Emily Post for fun (the rules on smoking after supper are quite amusing). Not everybody married a man who was trained in hat etiquette by a hat model (his mother). Not everybody spent spare weekends in college explaining to ushers which arm to offer to the ladies and how to walk like a gentleman. What can I say? I’m a lucky girl.
But even in laid-back, laissez-faire Portland, I am horrified by the lack of civility around me. Today, when an old man let a door slam on P and me (in the driving rain!), I’d had enough. I decided it’s time for a new series: the Attorney At Large’s Guide to Urban Manners.
Disclaimer: I’m not perfect. No, really. I spend too much time at cafes and restaurants with paper napkins, and as a result my table manners could use a good once-over, or maybe even two. My posture gets worse with each year I spend hunched over a laptop screen. I’m easily distracted by shiny objects. But you know what else I’m not? I’m not rude, even when I’m being snarky or making pointed remarks to rude people.
I’m starting with hats, mostly because I like hats, but also because I want to create a public record for the media to find when I go on a mad hat-tipping spree through the restaurants and shops of Portland. Also, don’t expect gender equality: until the ERA passes, I expect men to remove their hats indoors. Really, how hard is it? Apparently, quite. So I’ll say it again, in bold:
Men remove their hats indoors. That’s the bright-line rule. If you follow that, you’ll be safe. But if you want to get all technical and lawyerly, there are nuances. If you are indoors in a public place (like a museum or a train station or a hotel lobby), you don’t have to remove your hat. If you are passing through a place, you don’t have to remove your hat. Around here, we have had a spirited debate about what to do in a restaurant when waiting for takeout. Technically, you wouldn’t have to remove your hat. Personally, I think it’s tacky to stand around with a hat on when there are diners seated and eating nearby.
If you put your butt on a chair in a public place? The hat comes off. If you meet a lady on the street and stand and talk to her? The hat comes off.
Women do not have to remove their hats indoors. (I know, it’s not fair. Cry me a river.) That said, I will take off a soggy, wet hat (or a really “outdoorsy” hat) rather than drip all over food or merchandise or children.
Ball caps are not hats. They’re sporting apparel, and unless you’re running, playing a sport, or watching a sport, you shouldn’t wear one, and that goes for men and women. It’s like wearing a jock strap on your head. Also, the only person allowed to wear a ball cap backward is the catcher. (H/T to Isaac.)
I recently saw a professional, put-together woman walking with a man with a ball cap on backwards and all I could think was, “Why is this woman with this idiot?” Did he forget which side of his head is front?
Oh, these are antiquated, you think. No one follows these anymore. Who the hell are you, anyway? I say: (1) maybe, (2) yes, some men do, and (3) good, bad, I’m the redhead with the gun. But here is the thing: being polite never goes out of style. Ever.