Hats off at the table

August 19, 2016


This story can be found in the book, The Majorettes are Back in Town

Bless her heart, my long time friend, Fancy Faye is out there in the dating world again. The stunning beauty is smart and successful, but totally out of luck when it comes to love. She’s rather picky, which can be a good thing, I guess, but she recently dumped a perfectly fine man because he sat down in a restaurant and didn’t remove his baseball cap.

“I’d already decided it was peculiar of him to wear his cap when he picked me up for our date, since the sun was setting in about ten minutes, but to keep it on while we were eating was unthinkable.”

I have to agree with Fancy. I was raised to believe that men wearing hats indoors, and especially at the table, was the main reason Sodom and Gomorrah was fried, scattered, smothered and chunked.

I remember the occasion when our extended family gathered around the dinner table and we instinctively bowed our heads and waited for Granddaddy to pray. Silence. Nothing. We opened one eye, then the other and looked down the table. Granddaddy, who was in his late 90's, stared -- no, glared, at first-cousin-once-removed Keith, and finally said, "I'll begin when Keith removes his hat." Keith, who was in his mid 60's jumped and fumbled for his cap like a scared little boy and finally flipped it off onto his lap. Feeling the long forgotten sting of a reprimand from an elder, Keith and the other grown men at the table did their best to stifle their laughter, but the message was definitely received -- we don't wear hats at the table.

My own sons pitched a fit when I told them they had to remove their caps inside someone's home (mine), yet the rules stated I could leave my cute little navy straw summer hat with the fluffy white band perched on my dainty head because, well . . . because I'm a lady (not that I walk around my own house wearing a hat. That would be silly, and besides, would totally cover up the tiara).

In order to prove my point, I enlisted the help of my fourteenth-cousin-twice-removed, Emily Post, who shocked me with her new modern view.

According to E.P., as we like to call her, men may leave their "fashion" hats (think Don Draper) on in public buildings like post offices, train stations (when was the last time we dashed through a train station?) or hotel lobbies and elevators, but must remove them at a long list of locations, including restaurants.

The new twist is that now, Emily has a separate set of guidelines for the sportier and more casual baseball cap, and lo and behold, ladies are held to the same rules for caps.

The maven of manners says both men and women should remove their baseball caps when being introduced to someone, in a private home, during the playing of the national anthem (I'm really big on that one too) in all public buildings, but especially, most definitely, absolutely, at the table.

Well, I'll be John Brown! Fancy Faye and I attended a little league game last spring and she wore the most adorable seersucker monogramed baseball cap and didn't think at all about removing it for the national anthem because of being the fairer sex and all. Besides, her ponytail was pulled through the back opening of the cap and anchored with a bow, so it would have required disassembling her hair-do to get the cap off. Our Southern love of hair accessories and swishy ponytails wasn't taken into consideration by Northern cousin Emily Post, so what are we to do now?

I'll stick to wearing a baseball cap only when I'm working in the yard or throwing out the first pitch at a Braves game. As for Fancy, now that she knows she's broken the rule too, she may just have to give her gentleman friend another chance. My hat's off to her.

Leave a Reply

  1. Leslie Anne, I was also taught a man must remove his cap/hat at the table and certainly other places, as well! When my son was a teen, he would come to the table with a cap on backwards and I would give him the eye, and he would remove it. Needless to say after seeing “the eye” so many times, he gave up cap wearing at the table. Fun read!! Happy weekend, Pam @ Everyday Living

  2. There is a whole generation that really could care less what the rules say. But, I bet that same generation would still listen to Great grand daddy and Mama!

  3. Hi Little Bitty Pretty One! Honey, I agree totally! I was brought up just like you and think it’s so disrespectful for a guy to keep his hat or cap on at the table. The sad thing is, today I think lots of guys have no idea because they’ve not been taught to know better! Shame on their parents! Southern manners are always best!
    Thanks for popping in to see me.
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

    1. Hey Sheila, I think this rule wasn’t just made in the South, but spread across the country by Mamas everywhere. Southern mamas just have the reputation for yankin’ a knot in their son’s tails if they don’t follow the rules of the house!

  4. It gags me to see a man wear a hat inside a restaurant. Even inside any building with the baseball caps – the sun isn’t in their eyes and they are covered with dust and pollen. A dress hat is ok but the caps are nasty.

    1. The purpose of a baseball cap – other than to shield the eyes of the outfielder, is to protect your face from sun, dirt and dust, so it isn’t appropriate or needed indoors. I actually go back and disagree with Emily Post about ladies removing their baseball caps indoors IF . . . the hairdo / ponytail / bows / clips need to be removed. I don’t think dear Emily understood them as a fashion accessory. However, if ladies (women) insist on wearing them to anything other than a sporty event, like meetings, services, restaurants, then the rule should apply. There’s a difference between a proper dress hat and a baseball cap. Thanks for your comment!

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