By C.L. Harmon

I recently took my mom to a concert. It was to see Gene Watson, a country singer who has been performing longer than I have been alive. We will just say better than 50 years. He had several hits during the 1970’s and early 1980’s and my mom has always been a fan. Her initial plans had fallen through and I didn’t want her to miss it, so I offered to accompany her. The crowd was what I expected with most of the people in my mom’s age range. He is obviously a much bigger star than I remember from hearing him on my parents’ radio as a child, as was evident since the show was sold out. I had been in Tulsa with my mom earlier that day and she had asked me if we should zip over to the casino and buy tickets before the show. I insisted that there would be tickets available since it wasn’t like we were seeing George Strait or Garth Brooks. In fact I made a joke about it and told her not to worry about getting good seats as there would be a plethora to choose from. Turns out I was wrong. (I know its hard to accept, but on occasion I do make errors in judgement.) So lesson one…always listen to your moms, they really do know best. Once we took our seats; the closest ones available about three-quarters ways back from the stage, she began talking about the prospect that the guy holding the empty seats in front of us was probably doing so for a bunch of cowboys who would insist on wearing their hats during the show. I agreed this time as I was afraid by disagreeing, it might just actually come true. It didn’t help. Low and behold, four men moved into those seats. Only two were wearing hats, but they happened to take the seats in front of us. Damn! Really! What are the odds I thought as I positioned my head between the two hats to get a line of sight in which to see Watson perform. What sparked her comment was the fact that she had seen Don Williams a week earlier and a big man in a big hat sat directly in front of her. But maybe there was a saving grace. The casino has those large screens that allow for every seat in the house to be a good seat. So my mom made note of the screens and then commented that it wouldn’t be so bad with the screens. Turns out she would have been right…if they turned on the screens…which they didn’t! Oh well! This opened up a new subject of conversation while we waited for the show to begin. This is where we actually get to the point of this column; those who are old enough to know better! She made a comment that her dad never left the house without his Stetson hat. She followed this up with the comment that he also had the manners as well to remove it while indoors. This got me to thinking about the ‘monkey see, monkey do’ scenario. When I was a child in school, hats were not allowed in the classroom. If students entered the classroom from the hall and forgot to remove their hats, the teacher’s first order of business was the ‘hats off’ gesture to those students. I further recall that my elementary school principal wore one of those hats that were popular in the 1940’s and 50’s. But I never saw him wear it in the building. So what was this man doing by that action? He was setting an example for those whom he was around. He could have worn it I suppose. After all, he was the boss. In essence, we all learn from what we see others do. I don’t wish to imply that I think its rude to wear hats in Walmart or the grocery stores and other public places. I do, however, feel that a public event where someone’s view is blocked by a hat is in fact rude. If a person has some hideous scar or deformity that makes them feel self-conscious and they wear a hat to hide it, I get that. These men, however, did not. I checked as each removed their hats for a second to scratch their heads. I think what bothers me the most about this experience is the fact that both of these men lived during a time where this action was considered rude and therefore knew it to be so. Neither of these men even offered to remove them to increase our viewing pleasure. I believe some courtesies should never be lost. Opening doors for people, offering a few cents at a register for a customer with no change who doesn’t wish to break a large bill for a a penny or two, offering to carry a package for someone who has their hands full, offering your jacket to a friend who is cold and even removing one’s hat during an indoor public event. (Except rodeos of course. I get that!) So in review what have we learned? One should listen to their mom, never assume when others are affected by that assumption, monkey see, monkey do should not be your life’s motto, remember that the row behind you paid to see a show and not your hat. And finally..don’t forget that manners are learned and you are always teaching someone else. Also that someone else might have listened to his mother, bought tickets early and may wear a hat just like you.