TRAVELING

ON THE FUNNY SIDE “BLACK HATS”

 

I know that I am a throw back from the past.  I have barely mastered that gizmo that turns the T.V. on and off.  I call it the “Flipper”.  I am forever pushing the wrong buttons and my wife then takes great pains to correct my blunders.  Why do you need two of these forbidden things?  It just causes double trouble.  I still haven’t mastered how that computer gets turned on and off.  I do however like how easy it completes by books once I have sat for hours writing with lead pencil and lined ringed binders.  My publisher can turn Joan’s computerized rendition of my ramblings into a finished printed book in about 20 minutes by just pushing a floppy thing-a-ma-jig she gives him into a machine. That’s a wonder to me but pushing little buttons on I pods or even the telephone are “Forbidden territory”.  Give me the old rotary phone or better still, what was wrong with the operator doing all the work for you.  Just say the number and voila – a connection.  I can remember picking up a telephone receiver as a boy and hearing “number please”.

“Oh Hi Mable give me 133.”

“Sorry Paul, she’s out right now at the grocers.  Why don’t you try in an hour or so?  If I’m not busy I’ll call you back when she’s home.”

That was service!

I still think our elbows should be kept off the table when eating – pull your chair in and don’t sit on the edge of it.  Attend the chair for your lady friend – wait until everyone is served before wolfing into your meal – and under no circumstances do men wear a hat at the table.  Hey, that’s just the rules for good etiquette.

It was the night of the “Black Suits” on one of our cruises.  Everyone was a buzz trying to outshine their shipmates.  The women love it.  This is one time when the average Jo or Jill can really get all gussied up in the finest of apparel. Our society in North America, I must say, is getting very lazy when it comes to dress code.  There just doesn’t seem to be any rules anymore.  When travelling in Europe, you become aware of our lack of pride in our appearance.  However, the Captain’s formal night onboard changes that for many of us and we strut like peacocks this one night. It is fun to look around and observe the many costumes that one can come up with.  Plain woman and ugly men suddenly take on a new and different persona.  They become beautiful and they seem to know it.  It’s amazing what a shirt and tie, cuff links and polished shoes, some makeup and a trip to the beauty salon can do for grandpa and grandma.  They never looked so good since their courting days.  Wow! she does have legs.  Where are those jeans?  A little bit of a problem for some that carry a bit more bulk than in the past.  That suit has shrunk and the shirt buttons won’t stay buttoned.  Leave the jacket open.  It is just more comfortable that way.  For many cruises during the period when we owned the “Sir William Mackenzie Inn”, I wore the Kilt, yards of heavy wool and all the attachments that go with this stylish and smart uniform.  It was a pain to pack but when you have $2,000 invested in your threads, you suffer the consequences and strut them whenever you can.

I noticed three couples at the cocktail party.  They stood out head and shoulders over any others in this luxurious lounge.  These folks were obviously from Texas.  They were in their mid 30’s, handsome and beautiful.  The ladies had designer evening gowns and the gents wore Black tuxedoes in the Western style.  Sequins and special designs, cut away jackets not unlike my own which is called “traditional Prince Charlie” jacket.  These guys looked smashing.  I never noticed them before but they were seated fairly close to our table.  Certainly close enough for me to see that the men still had their 10 gallon Black Stetsons on.  They were smart at the cocktail party but certainly out of place sitting in a fine dining room.  For the whole meal I was obsessed by the fact that those dumb hats were not sitting under their seats but still on their heads.  Surely the maitre d’ will notice and ask for their removal.  It didn’t happen.  To me these guys now stood out like warts. At first, they appeared as Prince Charming now the Toad is revealed.

We were still seated enjoying our dessert and wine when our three couples got up to leave the dining room.  I couldn’t resist.  As they passed by our table I asked the gentlemen to stop for a moment.  I complimented them on their appearance and stated also how beautiful their lady friends were.  I was into it now and I couldn’t hold back “Are those Black Hats permanently affixed to your head?” I asked.  “What do you mean?” one questioned.  “I mean those hats do they ever come off? Do you wear them to bed?”

“We don’t understand?” It was obvious these guys could look good but had no idea about the finer points of etiquette.  I had to be brutally blunt since I had gone this far “When at the dining table in any restaurant and especially here, in respect for your dinner partners and those around you, a gentleman should remove his hat.” I fully expected a bar room brawl.  They sheepishly left the room and probably wondered how I had the nerve to comment on their hats when I was wearing a “SKIRT”… ???