Jay Lacklen: OK, what's with the hats?

January 8, 2011 10:07:00 PM

Jay Lacklen - lacklenj@aol.com

 

I must ask a question, why do men wear their baseball hats while dining in restaurants? 

 

I admit I might be a bit of a prig on such things since, in the Air Force, I''d have been pounced upon and severely upbraided if, while in uniform, I didn''t take off my hat immediately when coming indoors, or immediately put it on when going outdoors. 

 

However, it seems apparent the wearing of baseball-style caps in restaurants has become an accepted practice. 

 

Initially I thought this to be a phenomenon peculiar to Mississippi. On some occasions, it seemed half the men in local restaurants sported caps proclaiming fealty to MSU, Ole Miss, or Alabama, or to camouflaged outdoor activities such as hunting or roaring around on ATVs. 

 

But over Christmas, while visiting the Washington DC area, I entered a tony restaurant just outside the beltway for Sunday brunch and, to my consternation, baseball caps abounded. There went my Mississippi-centric hat theory. 

 

Why is this so? Are men intent on advertising some proclivity even while dining? Do they want us to think they have just come from the woods, will soon be going to the woods, or fervently wish they were still in the woods? Do they insist we know they are a woodsy sort of guy? 

 

Or, given the huge number of Auburn hats I have seen recently, maybe they just insist on rubbing all our noses in the War Eagle/Tiger''s football success this year? 

 

I can''t pinpoint just when the fashion bell rang that allowed this trend, but it seems fully in force now. 

 

In the past we had to make due with "advertisements for myself" with our cars. We bought "Explorers" to suggest we might go four-wheeling in the Rockies this weekend, except the only roads most such vehicles will explore will be those that carry munchkins to piano lessons and soccer practice. The vehicle name serves only to stroke our imagination and desired self-image. 

 

I suffer this same malady when occasionally sporting around in my daughter''s Mustang convertible. I am briefly 25 again as the massive V-8 growls menacingly getting up to speed and then purrs arrogantly at cruise. I joke with my wife I must be careful lest grandmothers of my age begin throwing themselves on the hood in adoration. 

 

And so our penchant for self-delusion may voice itself with the wearing of hats in restaurants. But I suspect, in many cases, the caps cover baldness and nothing more, forgetting the old saying that nature gave some men perfect heads, while the rest of us must cover ours with hair. 

 

Lacklen is a retired Air Force Reserve pilot, who flew missions in Vietnam and Iraq. Presently he is simulator instructor at CAFB and is writing a book about his experiences in the Air Force. His e-mail address is lacklenj@aol.com. 

 

Jay Lacklen is a retired Air Force Reserve pilot, who flew missions in Vietnam and Iraq. Presently he is simulator instructor at CAFB and is writing a book about his experiences in the Air Force.