Most of you will probably recognize the title of this post as being a line from the first Die Hard movie, in which Bruce Willis was responding to Alan Rickman’s reference to Roy Rogers and Dale Evans riding off into the sunset. It’s also what went through my mind today as I imagined myself slapping someone in the back of the head. You’re asking yourself, “Why would he do that?” Your answer follows…
So early this afternoon (it’s September 4th for another 3 hours and 7 minutes) I decided to go out for lunch, ending up at a seafood place that I frequent. I sat down, ordered, and surfed Twitter while I waited. A few minutes later I was knuckle deep in a batch of fried gator tail when I hear the little bells on the door jingle. Looking up I see this guy saunter in wearing the full cowboy regalia: boots, form-fitting boot cut jeans complete with studded belt & buckle, blue-red-white checkered shirt, and to top it all off – a big ass cowboy hat.
Now personally, I don’t care what people wear. Wanna walk around in 90+ degree weather playing dress up for Halloween early? Go for it. All I’ll do is shrug, maybe raise an eyebrow, and go about my business. Live and let live; that sorta thing. But what pissed me off about this guy was the fact that not only did he NOT take that stupid ass hat off when he came in the restaurant, but he left it on after they (he was with some woman, presumably his wife, since she was similarly attired, minus the hat) sat down and continued to leave it on as they ate. Let me put why it bothered me into context.
I lived with my grandmother for several years when I was a kid; from the time I was about 9 until 16 or 17. Keep in mind that this was from 1979 until 1986-87. My grandmother was born in 1917. So you can imagine (or maybe you can’t, depending on how old you are) that I was raised with a different set of standards from what kids are today. One of those standards was, if you’re wearing a hat – baseball cap, football helmet, chef hat, beanie with a propellor, whatever – you took it off when you came inside the house. Why? It was just the respectful thing to do. It showed that you, as a person, respected the house and the people in it. Civility. Humility. Respect! In addition to the “No wearing hats in the house” rule there was the “No hats at the dinner table” rule. When you came in to eat dinner and took your hat off you put it somewhere – if you lived there you put it in your room or some other appropriate place. If you were a guest then you hung it up and set it somewhere out of the way. There was no arguing or debating this rule. That’s the way it was. End of story. And it stuck with me as a rule of thumb.
Some years later, living with my mother again, I was introduced to a friend of hers who was a nurse (my mother was also a nurse); her friend’s name was Charlene. Charlene grew up with the same “No hats in the house rule” and, to further reinforce that, she was also a Navy veteran. Not only was she strict about the “no hats” rule, she was adamant about it (I totally tried to get away with it once while she was at the house; she caught me and told me to go back outside and come back in like a proper person would). Okay, Charlene. Point made.
Fast-forward to 1990 and whoosh! Off I go to basic training in the Army. Now, your grandmother may tell you that the “no hats inside” rule is just a polite way to be. But in the Army, it’s law. That’s right, law (also known as regulations). There is an Army regulation, 670-1, Wear and Appearance of Army Uniforms & Insignia, which governs every aspect of how to wear the Army uniform, including when NOT to wear it. In it, Chapter 2, Paragraph L (2) states, “Soldiers will not wear headgear indoors, unless under arms in an official capacity, or when directed by the commander, such as for indoor ceremonial activities.” And in the Army, the regulations dictate & govern pretty much every aspect of your existence. So again, the “no hats inside” rule was pounded into my head, making it not only a respectful thing to do but also the law. The point being? You’re not supposed to wear your damn hat inside!”
So, back to this jackass sitting at the table eating while wearing his stupid cowboy hat. I guess I lied a little bit earlier when I said I didn’t care what people wore. That said, I obviously believe people should wear the proper uniform for the proper job. In the Old West, what a cowboy wore served a function – high-calf boots and heavy denim jeans with chaps to protect his legs from snake bites – is an example. Their hats helped shade their eyes and, when it rained, served to keep the water off their face and help prevent water from running down their shirt collars. And cowboys back then worked their asses off! Long cattle drives for weeks at a time. And I don’t mean driving a jack-up truck to Arby’s; I’m talking about riding a horse across open prairies in every imaginable weather condition. Weather that would make the average person these days look outside and say, “Nope! Not happening.”
The “cowboys” these days are only wearing all that crap because some country singin’ yahoo wears it too. Sure, they might own a few cows, work on a farm, what have you. But hey, Tex. You’re not fooling me! You know why? Because if you were half the cowboy you think you are, you’d take your fucking hat off when you came inside, and you certainly would take it off when you sat down to eat! Because that’s what polite, respectable people do. And aren’t all you redneck-cowboy types raised that way? Yes, ma’am. No, ma’am. Yes, sir. No, sir. Shake hands. Respectable? I didn’t grow up being a cowboy and even I know to take my damn hat off when I come inside! Otherwise, you just might hear “Yippie Ki Yay, Mother F!^ker!” right before your stupid ass cowboy hat gets slapped off your head…
Microsoft Word says I’ve typed over 1000 words, just to rant about some cow patty that wore his hat indoors/at the table. How come I can’t write like this for the manuscript I’m working on?! Maybe I should just write short stories about things that piss me off. Seems much easier than coming up with fiction!