Hats You Can’t Wear Sideways or Backwards

mexican saguaro

I found this in drafts, no idea when it was written–Jeanne

For a number of years I’ve watched people wearing ball caps turned backward and sideways, nobody raising an eyebrow.  I’m not sure why they do it because the purpose of the visor on a ball cap is to protect the nose from Old Sol’s battering.  But I gradually began to wonder if people just didn’t know which piece of a hat is the front, which is the side, and which is the back.

Eventually I decided to perform an experiment.  I carefully selected a hat for my next trip to town, determined to wear it backward all day, seemingly oblivious to that.  I wanted particularly to corner-of-my-eye observe the reactions of people wearing their ball caps backward and sideways.

My findings weren’t ambiguous.  From my first stops of the day I saw that people of every age and gender did double-takes, then attempted to surreptitiously call the attention of someone else to the fact I was wearing my hat backward.  If they had no companion they’d nudge a stranger to share it.  Not once did anyone sidle up to me and whisper, “You’ve got your hat on backward,” as they’d have done if my fly was unzipped.

If I’m wearing a hat when I eat in town I usually take it off a moment while I briefly acknowledge gratitude.  On this occasion the hat was on backward when I entered and took my seat, ordered my food and waited to be served.  The café was well populated and though I pretended to be reading I observed the hat was a subject of notice and concealed, smiling discussion at almost every table.

When the food arrived, after the waitress left, I removed the hat and bowed my head a moment, then replaced it, facing forward.  But, pretending to notice I’d put it on forward, I took it off, looked at it, then turned it backward again on my head, and began eating while still occupied with my book, watching the other patrons.

This brought giggles and laughter, even among those wearing ball caps turned backward and sideways.

My conclusion from this study is that people don’t know what is the front and what is the back of a ball cap, but they do know the front from the back of western-style headgear.  I believe the findings are important enough to justify more in-depth study by PHD candidates in anthropology, sociology and fashion.


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