Monday, April 03, 2017

Confessions of A Hathead: When Do You Doff It And When Do You Off It?

April 3, 2017
   All this discussion about the appropriate etiquette regarding when to doff and when to off a cowboy hat, certainly has brought up a couple sticky memories. 

   Back in the eighties I was at an editorial cartoonist convention in Washington DC and they had this annual talent show where the cartoonists put on little skits. One of the more prominent, syndicated cartoonists (actually a hero of mine) came up to me in the audience and asked me if he could borrow my cowboy hat for a skit. I said, "No, thank you." He was quite put off by this and gave me a "are-you-kidding-me?" look, before huffing away. I wanted to say, but didn't, "Hey, can I come over to your house and try on your underwear?" A cowboy hat is a very personal thing. He thought wearing the hat was just a gag or a goof, like putting on an eye patch at a Halloween party.

House Party: Doff It, Or Off It?

   A couple years ago I was at a road meeting in our neighborhood. It was pot luck and held at an attorney's million dollar home (with a lighted tennis court). The lawyer is also a weekend roper and, at the time, was the proud owner of a $92,000 custom, super-truck to sleep in at roping events and to pull his horses and gear.

I'm proud to say, my blind dog Apache always approved of me wearing my cowboy hats inside.

When Kathy and I showed up at the party, everyone was chatting and grabbing beers out of the ice chest on the back patio. I got one and gravitated into the kitchen where I got into a conversation with my neighbor Bruce about, what else, the Old West. Our host came by and, looking right at me, said in a snippy tone, "Take your hat off." I just laughed—I thought he was joking—and kept on talking. A couple of minutes later he came back by and said, loudly, "I'm serious. No self-respecting cowboy wears a hat in my house!"

   So I killed him.

   No, I took my hat off and placed it on the back of the grand piano in the living room. I really didn't think much more about this until today when I got into this exchange on Facebook:

In A Restaurant: Doff It Or Off it?

Tom Neiley 
I remember being in a restaurant here in Denver sitting at a table next to then U. S. Senator Ken Salazar. His lunch companion shows up and he stands up to shake her hand. But he doesn't doff his hat!!! That was the worst. Very bad form. I mean the guy grew up ranching in southern Colorado. So disappointing. I thought he was a cowboy!!😲
UnlikeReply12 hrs
Bob Boze Bell This is a tricky area and I can relate. I often show up at a restaurant or meeting hall for a speech or talk and I wear my hat inside, often eating with it on and then giving my presentation. They came to see the guy in the hat and it just seems, not wrong, but odd to take the hat off and place it in my lap then put it back on when I get up to speak. I've done it both ways, but it's a dilemma.
LikeReply2 mins
Bob Boze Bell And no doubt I have offended people by not doffing the hat, like you say, Tom. Interesting. I will certainly think about this the next time I give a speech!

"When in doubt, off it. When in Cowboyland, doff it."



  1. I just went to the Dick Dale concert last night, and Dick asked to borrow the stage hand's cowboy hat to sing a Johnny Cash song. He let 'em borrow it.

  2. I'm from Mississippi. My momma would roll over in her grave, rise up and haunt me if I didn't remove my hat in doors. Remember Houston Oilers Coach Bum Phillips? When asked why he didn't wear his cowboy hat and the Astrodome he replied that his mama taught him never to wear a hat indoors. That said, I live in Texas now, and as far as I know, I'm about the only one who follows that rule.


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