It appalls. It dismays. Most restaurants* and bars provide no hat racks.
When I brought my old fedora to Hoodoo Headware, Charity Denlop (whose business card indicates that she's "Voice of Reason") took a look at my crumpled lid it and frowned, "Wow, this hat has been crushed a few times."
Maybe it has been crushed…but never by me, because I respect my – and all – hats.
What I suspect has happened, because I've seen it happen several times, is cloakroom attendants mishandle hats. They've smashed my hats into the sleeve of a jacket for "safekeeping." No respect.
At parties, I've been dismayed to see inconsiderate fellow party-goers simply place their coats on top of my hat, as though it were a thing without shape (which, as a result of such treatment, it most definitely is becoming).
And there are other abuses.
"We have kids come in here all the time," Denlop told me, "and pull hats down on their heads," like their some kind of costume accoutrement. "And then their parents realize what's been done. They press the hat onto a pile of other hats," damaging several in one careless motion. No respect.
Sometimes when I go out to eat, and there's no hat rack in the restaurant (which there almost never is), I put my hat on a nearby chair, if there is one. If I'm sitting at the bar, I'm stuck with nowhere for headgear: putting a hat on an eating surface is considered not just bad manners but bad luck. I don't buy into the latter, but I don't want to make anyone uncomfortable.
Still, when I'm out, there are many times when my hat is homeless.
Our culture has become so insensitive to the way of the hat that we've ceased to make a place for it. And when I say "hat," I mean a man's hat, I don't mean a baseball cap (only good for playing baseball) or a stocking cap (guaranteed to make you look like the village idiot).
Hats are what they sell at Hood Headware, and it's a place where they're afforded the modicum of respect they deserve.
I'd be interested to know of Oak Park restaurants that have racks for hats. Please post here if you know of any such hat-friendly local places.
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