It seems to me that some young males in Western North Carolina now undergo a secret ‘rite of passage’ that was unknown when I was growing up. Sometime between the ages of 11-14, maybe earlier in some cases, a cap is permanently affixed to their head. This may be a baseball cap, but more often it is a ‘gimmie’ cap, one that advertises John Deere tractors or Southern States Fertilizer or perhaps their favorite NASCAR race driver.
These caps must be glued, welded, stapled, nailed or otherwise solidly attached, because they are never removed. It is now common to see caps worn in church, at funerals, or even at weddings. In one case, I attended a wedding where the groom wore a cap emblazoned with a big 3, the late Dale Earnhardt’s racing number. At the time, I thought that qualified as the ultimate in tackiness, but I have since been proven wrong.
On another occasion I took the wife to a very elegant restaurant to celebrate our wedding anniversary. It was prom night, and a couple of the local swains were treating their dates to a fancy dinner before the dance. The young ladies looked very lovely, in their formals and corsages. The young gentlemen were somewhat ill at ease, not accustomed to being dressed so fashionable. But they were doing their best to appear suave and debonair in their rented tuxedos. Unfortunately, their caps spoiled the effect. Now, any fashion expert will tell you that a top hat is the only proper head covering to be worn with evening clothes. A cap advertising fertilizer just doesn’t cut it! I had to wonder did they wear their caps while dancing?
I spent many years in the US Navy, which is a rather formal service. One of the absolute dictums of the “Senior Service” is that you uncover as soon as you come into a building. Never, never, never would a naval person sit down to a meal while wearing a hat. Aboard ship this would probably get you thrown overboard. These rules were so drilled into me that now, to see someone wearing a cap indoors is rather shocking. To see a person in a restaurant, eating a meal while wearing a cap, almost makes me ill! Yet, this is an every day sight. Have you noticed that most restaurants no longer have a coat rack near the door? In the old days, this is where you hung your coat and hat. But, since apparently caps cannot be removed, these racks are no longer needed.
Recently, I saw the ultimate in cap stupidity. While swimming at the local recreation center, I saw a young father, with his cap on, come in with his small children! Now, wearing a cap at an indoor swimming pool surely must rank among the top of the all time list of really dumb actions. I will be charitable, and give this individual the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps he was totally bald, and didn’t want anyone to see his lack of hair. Maybe he had some horribly disfiguring skin disease on his scalp, and was keeping it covered to shield us from seeing the ugliness. But if not, then he proves my point. Those caps are permanently fixed, and cannot be removed.
But then that’s the view of the Resident Curmudgeon.