Friday, May 12, 2017

Bob Boze Bell's Hat Rules

May 13, 2017
   Here is a public service and I am just the guy to give it.


Hat Rule #1: "Do not touch my hat!"

   Let's get this straight: a cowboy hat is not a toy. It is not okay to touch a cowboy's hat, or put on a stray cowboy hat lying around a bunkhouse or a truckstop. It is not okay to grab it off a cowboy's head, and it is absolutely forbidden to say, as you reach out, "Gee, what's that made of?"

"Do not touch my hat."

Exception: A fiance may touch a cowboy's hat once—on the honeymoon—but that's it. Also, a grandchild may do whatever they want to a cowboy hat, short of sleeping in it. It is, after all, just a hat. I know that doesn't seem fair, but that's just the deal. 

Hat Rule #2: "Do not wear your cowboy hat in mama's house."

   There is no more disrespectful thing you can do, short of killing the family dog, than wearing your cowboy hat inside your mama's house. This includes all your friend's mama's houses, as well. This even includes mamas from other nations. Moms are sacred and every cowboy knows it. Don't do it.

Exception: You may wear your cowboy hat when you are forced to enter the house of your ex-wife's mother. You know, the one who never thought you were good enough to marry her daughter. If you do, though, you must be prepared to fight your ex-wife, her mother and whoever is sleeping with the two sluts at the time of the entry. That's a hard trade off, but it's usually worth it.

Hat Rule #3: "Wearing Hats Indoors Is Complicated. "

   Many cowboys have been in the armed services where it was drilled in to them to take off their lid when they are indoors. This wasn't true in the Old West where you see cowboys wearing hats in saloons and dining halls, but today is a different deal. When in doubt—Doff it.

Exceptions: In some parts of the country, if you enter a restaurant, it's okay to wear your hat at the counter, but not in a booth. This can be dicey if you see someone you know at a table when you are sitting at the counter, with your hat on. If you approach your friend at the table you can say hi and keep your hat on, but if you sit down, the hat must come off. This is known as the "heading-towards-the-door" rule. It is perfectly acceptable to wear your hat, as you cross the dining room towards the door, but do not dilly dally, or the hat must come off.

An Exception to The Exception: While everyone agrees the hat comes off in church, it is okay to wear your hat in Cowboy Church, but then it comes off for the Lord's Prayer.

Hat Rule #4: "The Dance Floor Dilemma"
In the old days, cowboys wore their hats to dances and never took them off, especially while struttin' around the dance floor. But, so many fights broke out when hats got bumped during dances that there are still places—mostly in Texas—where there is a hard and fast rule that you must take your hat off while dancing.

Exception: When a cowboy and a cowgirl are both wearing hats and it's time for a grinder, it is considered appropriate to leave both hats with a babysitter back at the booth.

Bonus Hat Rule: If you are in a cantina, drinking tequila and playing cards with
banditos who call themselves Los Muertos, do not make fun of their sombreros.

Hat Rule #5: "Cowgirls Can Get Away With Murder"

   Most of the hat rules cowboys adhere to are not applicable to a pretty cowgirl.

Exceptions: there are no exceptions to this sexist and ridiculous rule.

"So Sue us."

Bonus Hat Rule: If a cowboy insists on you adhering to these hat rules, try and keep a wide berth. He is probably a "Hat Nazi," and should be avoided at all costs. Who needs all these damn rules anyhow?

Beware of Hat Nazis: They think their hats don't stink.


  1. Anonymous4:21 PM

    Bob, my HAT rule is if they have a hat rack, use it. If they don't, your 20X is better off on your head.

  2. Anonymous5:09 PM

    Exceptional BBB!

  3. Anonymous9:35 PM

    Missed one, never put your hat on the bed...bad luck.

    1. Do you know where this rule came from? Someone said you have to burn the hat if someone sets it on a bed. Where in the hell did that come from?

    2. Anonymous8:41 AM

      That was my daddy's #1 rule!

  4. Anonymous5:45 AM

    Hat makers/sellers I'm guessing

  5. Good. But what about a "Summer" Hat versus a "Winter" hat?

  6. Never be caught alive wearing a hat like Robert Duvall wore in the Clint Eastwood movie "Joe Kid". When I first saw it my jaw dropped on the floor and I spit out my drink. To call it a clown hat would be kind. Seems like Robert Duvall has learned his lesson since then. The hat he wore in Lomesome Dove is called the Guss hat after his character.

  7. The "do not put your hat on the bed" rule was first seen by me, as far as I can remember, in the 1989 movie "Drugstore Cowboy" with Matt Dillon as "Bob" in the lead roll. His character is very superstitious. I had not heard of that superstition before that.
    Movie Quote:
    Bob: Hats. Okay? Hats. If I ever see a hat on a bed in this house, man, like you'll never see me again. I'm gone.
    Diane: That makes two of us.
    Nadine: Why a hat?
    Bob: Because that's just the way it is, sweetie.

    So this might be a made up Hollywood piece of crap if there are no references before 1989.

  8. Anonymous4:46 AM

    Additional hat rules we grew up with inSouth Texas...never leave your hat on the dinner table, if you place your hat on a flat surface let it rest on the crown and not the brim, and felt till Easter, straw till Labor Day. -Andy Andersen

    1. Anonymous12:31 PM

      The felt - straw rule is flexible depending on the temperature, in my opinion.
      Dustin West

  9. Anonymous7:55 AM

    I'm 68 years old and grew up with the no hat on the bed superstition. It was serious. Even setting it on the be for a second invited danger. Not allowed. Bad fortune would come to you. My grandmother and great-grandmother would become panicky and grab it as quickly as possible. My mother enforced the rule but seemed uncertain. I was led to believe it was part of our Irish heritage, but have only tradition to say so. Okay, I still enforce it, maybe only from habit, but it makes me nervous.

  10. I was told you NEVER put your hat on the bed or on the kitchen table. Why, I don't know.

  11. Anonymous11:29 AM

    How often was the regular Derby hat worn by regular Cowboys

    1. I read an excerpt from one of John D. Rose's book (either On The Road To Tombstone or Charleston & Millville, A.T.) about the first time they saw a "plug hat" which they called it. They talked about shooting it without the benefit of the owner removing it first. I'm sure by the mind 1880's the fashion had made it out west as there are pictures of BatMasterson wearing one....among in those few years from the early 1880's it had become a bit of a fashion for the well dressed, but not necessarily so for the cow boy.

  12. Tom G.4:24 PM

    The hat on the bed rule predates 1989. My mom told me when I was a kid that a hat on the bed was bad luck. This was in the 50's.

  13. Anonymous1:15 AM

    Ok, so we had a Neighborhood Christmas party at our house and a new neighbor walked in wearing a very nice black cowboy hat, that turned a few heads. He later lectured me that I was not following proper Hat Rules because I did not ask him for his hat to place on a hat rack! I was taken aback being born in Texas and my daddy always wore a hat, never called it a cowboy hat, it was just his work hat as he worked in the hot sun all the time. I told the guy that my dad always wore a hat and never once expected someone to take it to place on a rack. He was quiet and polite and stuck the hat on his knee when visiting friends or he didn't wear a hat in the evening...the noggin has to breath sometime, I guess and he only had maybe one cordial hat. So what is the proper hat rule when someone enters your house wearing a cowboy hat?

  14. I asked an Irish author if he knew anything about the hat on the bed rule. Here's what he said: "I've heard of the hat on the bed superstition and have a feeling that it stems from the time in the 20s and 30s when rival groups of gangsters, American or otherwise, would meet in a hotel bedroom to negotiate or just have it out verbally. Before the meeting began each man was searched by men from an opposing gang - but the thing was, those who had arrived first would have their gun or guns sitting under their hat or hats that they had laid on the bed. Plausible? I don't know, but most superstitions originate from lessons learnt."

  15. Anonymous10:41 AM

    Came across your "Hat Etiquette" when I first started reading True West th eother day. Interesting read!
    As for the hat rules, I believe all are correct and especially liked the comments made by Linda Sanchez. She is spot on! The rules basically reflect all I have had to adhere to through life, in & out of military circles. It has everything to do with common sense and politness which is sorely lacking these days. Ever wonder why we as a society are so much at each others throats anymore. I believe it's a simple case of lack of moral fortitudde, accountability and extreme lack of politness. You CAN be polite to your worst enemy, it does not make your enemy your friend or a worse enemy, and just may disarm him/her.
    A lot of it boils down to the simple fact from Robert A. Heinlen - "I alone am morally responsible for everything I do. An armed society is a polite society. Manners are good when one may have to back up his acts with his life".
    When you no longer can get away with being crude, rude, and degenerate, you'll soon quit acting in that manner and society will benefit from it all...... Just sayin!


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