Norman Knight: There’s a hat for that

As a rule, I don’t wear hats.

Oh, sure, a Pittsburg Pirates ball cap when I was playing backyard baseball at age 11 worked well enough and made me feel like one of the guys. But after those backyard baseball days, I tended to go bareheaded.

Those sunshine days of my youth, my dermatologist tells me, are the reason I should continue to see him about some issues with the top of my head. I try to wear a hat when I visit his office. I understand wearing a hat when in the sun is the healthy thing to do, and I try.

I put on a floppy hat when I go to the garden. I wear one of the Mini Marathon green, high-visibility running caps Becky and I received in our swag bags. It keeps the sun off my head, the sweat out of my eyes, and makes me more visible while on the road. I wear a stocking cap when it is cold outside. But otherwise, I am hat resistant.

When the subject comes up, I say, “I’m not a hat person,” by which I really mean: “Some people look good in hats; some don’t. I consider myself a ‘Don’t.’” I guess I am being a bit vainglorious, a Bible word meaning prideful.

Yes, I admit to being concerned with how I look when I go out in public. Of course, the public’s attitude on hats and caps have changed since those days when I had enough hair to worry about “hat head” after I removed my cap.

I realized this some years ago when I noticed men were leaving their hats on in certain social situations where I had been taught hats should be removed. I first noticed this in restaurants. Not fast-food restaurants, but restaurants with tablecloths and real silverware.

At first, I found I was very judgmental. I assumed these men didn’t know proper manners, didn’t realize removing one’s hat shows respect. I eventually have come to realize the rules of social etiquette have changed. Who knew? The new rules seem to be: respect has nothing to do with it. Keep your hat on.

Caps and hats are ways to tell the world something about you. Do you like a particular sports team? Wear the team hat. Want people to know you vacationed in Florida? There are entire stores devoted to providing you with just the right lid. Do you have a political or social point of view you wish to share with the world? There’s a hat for that.

Sometimes hats are good conversation starters. The electrician who came to our house recently was wearing a hat that read “My Life Speaks.” I asked about it and learned it was a Christian organization devoted to working with the people of Haiti. He had been on missions there several times and was planning another trip in the near future. His hat was a spark for a good story as well as a good chance to meet a good person doing good.

Perhaps the most notorious headgear of the last last four years is the Make America Great Again hat. For those who are passionate about their politics, these MAGA hatters are wearing a sort of political shorthand to any and all observers. Pro and anti-MAGA hat people can and do make all sorts of assumptions about the person under the cap. Do many conversations ensue after such meetings, or do they think, “Why bother? I know what to expect.”

In my life I wear many hats: husband, grandpa, sibling, friend, church member, writer and musician among others. for my own good health and well-being, I am making a real effort to stop being anti-hat. I am sure the top of my head will thank me for this.

Norman Knight, a retired Clark-Pleasant Middle School teacher, writes this weekly column for the Daily Journal. Send comments to [email protected]

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