Better And Better

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Hats

I've never been much of a hat-wearer.


I like one when it's cold out, to keep my head warm.

I like one when it's raining, to keep water off my glasses and out of my collar.

I like one when its damnable sunny, to shade my eyes and to keep my brain from frying.

But other than that, I'm not much of a hat-wearer. They generally get too hot for me. Or I'll find that I want to scratch or put my hand on my head (a common enough expression for me), and it's in the way. I tend to take them off when not immediately needing 'em, and then I leave 'em somewhere.

I've never worked for an agency that issued a uniform hat. We generally would have some informal baseball caps made up, which we'd sometimes wear for traffic duty, or the like. Because we're in rural or semi-rural Texas, cowboy hats have been approved. Silverbellies for the winter, and straw for the summer. I just never availed myself.

Well, yesterday I worked a major accident, standing out in the hot sun for an hour, and said, "well, it's not going to get any better 'till about Thanksgiving." When I cleared, I spent my lunch break at the western store. I was surprised to find that I was kind of picky. I don't like a full roll. I don't like a huge brim, 4" or better. I don't like too much mesh around the crown, even though I know it'll make it cooler. I don't like too tall of a crown. I don't want fancy macaroni, if any.

Unfortunately, given my large head and my pickiness, I didn't have a lot of choice. I ended up buying name brand (Resistol), and 8X at that. Much, much more than I really need for a dadgummed hat to wear out on traffic. It was a tad small, but the lady steamed it and stretched it for me before blocking it the way I liked. I got a horsehair brush for my boots as well. I paid the exorbitant bill (at least it was on sale), tipped my hat, and walked out to the car. CLUNK! I banged my hat and head as I got in. After sitting low in the seat, I found that the back of the brim hit the headrest. Oh. I can't wear it in the car. Okay.

_ _ _

When I was a kid, a lot more men wore cowboy hats. Older men wore them because they came from the Time When Men Wore Hats. A lot of younger men wore them, unfortunately, because the late 1970s and early '80s was the era of the Rhinestone Cowboy. Then some men just wore them because it was part of their Texas identity, like a pair of boots.

Nowadays, many real cowboys wear gimme caps. I talked to one today, wearing steel-toed boots, blue jeans (well, some things don't change), a torn t-shirt with axle grease on it, and a nasty gimme cap. We discussed the utility of his $40k pickup and $35k horse trailer, which create a rig that cost more than I paid for the brick city house I live in. He offered to teach me how to rope.

When my granddad was a young man, any man of any means put a hat on when he went out. I don't know why that charms me, but it does. A hat was the most important part of a man's uniform, be he a police officer, a cabbie, a butler, a business man, or a milk delivery man. At present, I think that our hatless society reflects the fact that we are living in the Age Of The Common Man. Our look is blended. I'm no longer shocked to see jeans and T-shirts at church services (even Easter!), anymore. Rock stars perform before thousands in tired old T-shirts and dirty dungarees. Kids speak easily to all adults, without formality. In some ways, it's very good that some of our barriers are broken down. Hats were once routinely handed to the first person of color seen at a restaurant by white folk, because checking them was understood to be their job. But I occasionally desire to see a touch more distinction when I'm referred to by my first name by a sales clerk or a nine year old says "yeah" to an adult.

And I enforce my daughters' use of "sir" and "ma'am," when I'm wearing my "Daddy hat".

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10 Comments:

At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 8:18:00 AM, Blogger Jonathan said...

My dad was not a hat person. He was a mechanic, so hats just got in the way.

I only wear a hat in the summer months to keep the sun off my head. Otherwise, I don't really like them.

Originally, I used an army boonie hat. Now I use a dockers bucket style hat becuase it's waterproof.

but a HAT has a brim that goes completely around the head. A CAP just has a duck bill brim (ie, baseball caps, trucker caps, etc).

Boys wear CAPS. Men wear HATs. inmho.

 
At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 8:35:00 AM, Anonymous Stephen Malone said...

Amen, and I hate it when a grown man doesn't remove his cover when he enters a building.

 
At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 9:35:00 AM, Blogger shooter said...

Matt, I am almost never without a cover. Most times, it is my gimme cap of the day. I wear a boonie when working in the yard or down at the lease.

Something you might consider for a straw hat...palm leaf. I recently took to wearing them when out and about during the summer. They breathe much better than regular straw, take a bit more abuse, and don't leave a noticeable sweat ring after a couple long days in the sun.

Trust me, that sweat ring will show up and is damned hard to get out. You might want to pick up a spare hat for church and court.

You can save some money by browsing the vendors at your local rodeo. The last four hats I purchased were at the Houston Rodeo. Two Mahans, a Resistol Silver Belly, and a palm leaf straw. Don't forget the hat stretchers. They will keep that hat from shrinking on you when not in use.

 
At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 12:51:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

The 8X Resistol I got is "Panama palm." I'd learned about palm quite a while back.

 
At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 4:24:00 PM, Blogger Babs RN said...

I love hats and do wish they would come back in style (and I don't mean the ballcap I usually pile my hair up into with the requisite ponytail-out-the-back on a bad hair day, either). Good lookin' hat you got there, too :)

As for manners, yessir, I completely agree. Drilled "sir" and "ma'am" into my own kids from the time they first started to form words. They keep to it to this day, even correcting themselves on occasion.

 
At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 5:43:00 PM, Anonymous Rabbit said...

Nice hat.

My grandfather always wore one any time he was outdoors. In extremely cold weather, he had a wool hat that took the place of the cowboy hat (always a better Resistol or Stetson). It had been his custom since childhood.

He and my grandmother bought me my first 'real' hat when I was about 14, from the Resistol factory outlet store. When he passed away several y4ears ago, he was laid to rest with his finest Stetson in his hands. My brother and I each have one of his 'daily' hats.

Since I'm starting to thin out a bit on the back of the crown I've been a lot more mindful of manly headgear. I need to start looking for a new palm hat to update for the summer, myself. I've seen what happens to bare scalp after a lot of Texas sun, and it's not pleasant and damned painful.

Regards,
Rabbit.

 
At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 6:24:00 PM, Blogger BellaLinda said...

The Navy replaced their "dixie cup" hats with command ballcaps some time ago. (I dunno when, my husband came with one.) I understand the utility of them when working topside and the fact that they're easier to keep clean, but the look isn't the same and it is especially jarring on the chiefs & officers.

My husband got out of the Navy & got a job with a plumbing company, & now wears a company ballcap (not a necessary part of the uniform). Force of habit, I suppose, after 14 years of being required to wear one.

 
At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 10:02:00 PM, Anonymous JPG said...

Hats, Personal
I greatly admire the hat you chose. I copied the image you posted, printed it, and took a drive out to the western wear emporium. All the cute female help were busy and I had to talk with the old guy - - prolly about my age. I showed him the picture and he found me that exact same hat. I choose one just a touch too small, and they did the same slight stretch and brim flattening for me they did for you. I paid about twenty bucks more for mine, but it was still reasonable. Hey, that's okay - - Instant gratification is highly underrated.

While there, I talked about getting much the same design in Silverbelly felt, come cool weather. I looked at a couple by Stetson and Resistol. You just THINK that Shantung Panama gave you sticker shock. ;-)

Hats, Tradition
Current-day Texas - -A working cowpoke, riding fence alongside the Interstate sees a clearly well-to-do woman standing beside a limousine with northeastern plates. He rides down and asks if she needs help. She thanks him for the offer - - there is car trouble, her cell phone is dead, but her driver has already walked down to the crossroads for aid. The rider says that his crew is just over the hill and she should honk the horn if she changes her mind. As he returns to his horse, the woman asks, “Are you really a COWBOY?” He replies, yes, that's how he earns his living, and that there are still a lot of 'em around.

Clearly interested, the woman wants to talk. “Please, if you have time - - could you tell me something about your uh, costume?” The amused cowpoke explains that the chaps protect his legs from the mesquite thorns. The bandana keeps the sun off his neck and he uses it to wipe away the sweat. She asks, “And is this your traditional headgear and, uh, footwear?” He says, “Well, yes ma'am, nowadays it is. I wear the baseball cap and jogging shoes so people won't mistake me for a truck driver.”

Best - -

 
At Wednesday, June 13, 2007 11:37:00 PM, Blogger Matt G said...

Ollllllllld joke, now. :)

Too bad the hat was higher.

For that matter, too bad you bought it for yourself. Hmph.

 
At Friday, June 15, 2007 12:00:00 PM, Anonymous Lisak said...

I really like it when a man (including my 9 yr old son) removes his hat in a building. I also love it when he opens the door for me.

Not that I can't do it myself, but I appreciate it and feel cherished.

Pet Peeve: People who don't say Thank you when you hold the door for them.

Manners!! Love them! But they are only for classy people. ;-P

I hate hats too, but like wearing my straw (pig farmer) hat when it's really hot and sunny.

 

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