Hat Talk: The Rest of the Story

 

While my night on the town began, as related here, at Starbucks, it didn’t end there — nor did it continue in precisely the same vein of tolerance and understanding.

A few hours after I left the iconic cafe with my bag of free coffee and attended a family dinner, I ended up in a local bar doing what I do in bars: acting as designated driver and herder of tipsy friends. I am widely valued for my public temperance, my modestly imposing physical presence, and my capacious vehicle. (I drink, but only moderately and always at home. )

As I sat at a table watching my friends and the other patrons and nursing my third Diet Coke, a youngish woman appeared at my elbow and began talking. She informed me that she was a nurse, that she saw a lot of early-onset dementia, and that she thought people didn’t appreciate how big a problem it is.

(No, I didn’t take it personally: whatever doubts I may occasionally have about my own grip on reality, I do a pretty good job of keeping my peccadilloes under wraps. She was obviously just making conversation with this rakishly good-looking fellow trying — unsuccessfully, apparently — to keep counsel with his own thoughts amidst the noise of a crowded bar.)

I didn’t say much in response, beyond periodic sympathetic noises and an occasional attempt to soften her more hard-edged observations. She thought people live too long and didn’t approve of that; I suggested that we die too long, but that it seemed understandable that we might cling tenaciously to life for ourselves and encourage our loved ones to do the same. But I agreed that senility and dementia were sad and difficult challenges, whether occurring in the geriatric crowd or among my own relatively youthful cohort.

Despite her incipient intoxication, she noticed that I seemed to have a hard time hearing her, and she commented on the volume in the bar. I told her that I have a slight hearing deficiency (true), the product, I believe, of too many years riding motorcycles, scuba-diving, and shooting guns (also true).

“Do you like guns?” she asked me.

“I love them.”

“Do you have a MAGA hat?” From her tone, I took the question to be intended humorously.

“I do. It’s in the car,” I answered. As, in fact, it was.

That’s when the ugliness of the passionately uninformed revealed itself.

“I wouldn’t have guessed,” she said, sounding sincerely perplexed. “You listened so politely while I was talking.”

What went through my head at that moment was almost precisely this:

“You little idiot. Sixty million people voted for Donald Trump. Do you think they’re all such mean-spirited intolerant wretches that they can’t listen to someone talk about the challenges of managing dementia in the hospitalized elderly without feeling compelled to give vent to their inherent misogyny and/or fascist tendencies? What kind of bubble do you live in?”

That’s what I thought. What I said was that I didn’t understand why that would surprise her.

I listened to her prattle on for another little bit. She wanted to educate me on the “truth” about abortion law, but I told her I was pretty knowledgeable about it already, and that she and I probably wouldn’t agree. Then she told me about her “ex-boyfriend” who was recently arrested for sexual misconduct, though she thinks he’s been falsely accused. Seriously. She couldn’t have teed it up better if she’d tried, but I let it go: don’t argue with foolish people, and particularly with drunk foolish people. (Friends who know of the incident later assured me that she’s mistaken, and that the fellow in question is pretty awful.)

I don’t know how many on the left share this silly woman’s bigoted assumptions about the half of America that voted for the Republican. I do know that, when I wear the hat, I make a special effort to be pleasant. I’d like to think that, by being unexpectedly nice, I’m responsible for a little painful cognitive dissonance, a little uncomfortable opening of smug little minds. Certainly, that’s my hope.

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There are 15 comments.

  1. EJHill Podcaster

    Henry Racette: I don’t know how many on the left share this silly woman’s bigoted assumptions about the half of America that voted for the Republican.

    Bigotry always stems from ignorance. (Universal disclaimer: Ignorance and stupidity are not synonyms.) Racial bigotry stems from segregation and so does political bigotry. They have chosen to self-segregate, to only interact with those that share their world view. It’s “customize your experience” writ large. We have been muted, blocked, de-friended and unfollowed.

    Now, for us on the right, it’s nigh impossible. The larger culture is progressive and hostile and impossible for us to ignore. Consequently, we will always understand them better than they will understand us. (And by understand I don’t mean their views make sense, I mean we are attuned to their thinking and are able to predict their responses.)

    There’s no longer any common baseline. We teach our kids America is uniquely free. They teach their kids America is uniquely evil. I’m not sure that can ever be reconciled.

    • #1
    • June 22, 2019, at 9:10 PM PDT
    • 23 likes
  2. James Lileks Contributor

    There’s a good piece of journalism waiting to be done by someone who wears a MAGA hat and does a “Black Like Me” account of the experiences. Not that they’re comparable situations in the least, but as a way of drawing out the reactions of strangers and living a particular experience, it would be interesting, no? How the opposition to The Dreaded Hat turned out to be unkind and presumptive, and the journalist found himself reduced to a stereotype. 

    • #2
    • June 22, 2019, at 9:39 PM PDT
    • 18 likes
  3. JosePluma Thatcher

    James Lileks (View Comment):

    There’s a good piece of journalism waiting to be done by someone who wears a MAGA hat and does a “Black Like Me” account of the experiences. Not that they’re comparable situations in the least, but as a way of drawing out the reactions of strangers and living a particular experience, it would be interesting, no? How the opposition to The Dreaded Hat turned out to be unkind and presumptive, and the journalist found himself reduced to a stereotype.

    Great idea! Does anyone know a journalist who might try that, maybe in, say Minnesota?

    • #3
    • June 22, 2019, at 9:55 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  4. PHCheese Member

    You should have told her if she thinks people live too long just wait for health care to be “free”. Or in general wait for socialism.

    • #4
    • June 23, 2019, at 4:07 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. Randy Webster Member

    With any luck, it’ll be someone like Candace Owens.

    • #5
    • June 23, 2019, at 4:09 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  6. TBA Coolidge
    TBA

    PHCheese (View Comment):

    You should have told her if she thinks people live too long just wait for health care to be “free”. Or in general wait for socialism.

    One wonders when she is planning to off herself for the good of the planet. 

    • #6
    • June 23, 2019, at 10:25 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  7. philo Member

    Henry Racette: …I suggested that we die too long…

    Like.

    • #7
    • June 23, 2019, at 1:31 PM PDT
    • 4 likes
  8. David Carroll Thatcher

     I told my wife the story. She had an excellent comment. She says that the nurse was surprised that a conservative would have listened politely, because she knew she would be unable to do so if the circumstances were reversed. 

    • #8
    • June 23, 2019, at 1:57 PM PDT
    • 11 likes
  9. Full Size Tabby Member

    Henry Racette: I don’t know how many on the left share this silly woman’s bigoted assumptions about the half of America that voted for the Republican.

    It doesn’t even take being on “the left.” Even my brother, who is not as right wing as I am but is definitely not on “the left,” made many of those same assumptions about everyone who voted for Trump. My brother could not imagine any rational basis for a sane person to have voted for him. He tries to source his news from a variety of places, though he gets a disturbingly large percentage of it from NPR. But he had zero information about how or why people who were not part of the coastal privileged classes might not view the state of the country the same way he did. So all he heard were stories that painted the Trump voter as an awful person. So of course he assumed that all people who voted for Trump were terrible people.

    Unless you personally know MAGA hat wearing people or have an unusually wide set of news media sources on the “conservative” side, all you ever hear is that MAGA hat wearing people are knuckle-dragging ignoramii who refuse to listen to any rational arguments and commit violence at every opportunity.

    [For those on the left, I also have my personality projection theory, but that’s for another post. I see @davidcarroll has already noted this phenomenon.]

    • #9
    • June 23, 2019, at 2:02 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  10. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge

    There are reasons to be nice to people like this. Sooner or later, some of them will make the break away from the party of socialism and stupidity. That fact alone should make such efforts worthwhile.

    When I made my break in Nov 2016, I had one thing on the “R” side that many other people lack: parents who had both been Republicans. So I knew first hand that Republicans could be as polite, knowledgeable, and just as humorous as folks on the Left wing side of things.

     

    • #10
    • June 23, 2019, at 2:13 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  11. Randy Webster Member

    I realize that Trump has his flaws, but there was no way I was going to cast my vote for the most corrupt person to ever run for the presidency.

    • #11
    • June 23, 2019, at 3:16 PM PDT
    • 9 likes
  12. Basil Fawlty Member

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    There are reasons to be nice to people like this. Sooner or later, some of them will make the break away from the party of socialism and stupidity. That fact alone should make such efforts worthwhile.

    When I made my break in Nov 2016, I had one thing on the “R” side that many other people lack: parents who had both been Republicans. So I knew first hand that Republicans could be as polite, knowledgeable, and just as humorous as folks on the Left wing side of things.

     

    Mirabile dictu?

    • #12
    • June 23, 2019, at 3:23 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  13. The Cloaked Gaijin Member

    I’ve gotten to where I mostly really like Donald Trump. He doesn’t do anything about government spending or articulate conservative Constitutional thoughts, but no other Republican president really did those things anyway.

    I don’t like the Make America Great Again hat though. I suppose it could be a good way to show one’s beliefs quickly, but I would usually rather blend into the background. Branding symbols like that or the Obama “O” or the Obama hope poster may now be commonplace in politics moving forward, but there is no subtilty and nuance that one may not agree with a person 100% of the time. These cult-like branding symbols may be good for specific campaigns, but they are probably very bad for politics.

    “Do you like guns?”

    I love the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights, but I can’t say that I love guns. Just because I admire aspects of religion does not mean I love sharia law.

    Besides, guns are too noisy as your hearing loss mention notes. I hate loud noises. I even hate noise and sounds that don’t even bother most people…

    • #13
    • June 23, 2019, at 8:17 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  14. Henry Racette Contributor
    Henry Racette Post author

    The Cloaked Gaijin (View Comment):

    I’ve gotten to where I mostly really like Donald Trump. He doesn’t do anything about government spending or articulate conservative Constitutional thoughts, but no other Republican president really did those things anyway.

    I don’t like the Make America Great Again hat though. I suppose it could be a good way to show one’s beliefs quickly, but I would usually rather blend into the background. Branding symbols like that or the Obama “O” or the Obama hope poster may now be commonplace in politics moving forward, but there is no subtilty and nuance that one may not agree with a person 100% of the time. These cult-like branding symbols may be good for specific campaigns, but they are probably very bad for politics.

    “Do you like guns?”

    I love the Second Amendment and the Bill of Rights, but I can’t say that I love guns. Just because I admire aspects of religion does not mean I love sharia law.

    Besides, guns are too noisy as your hearing loss mention notes. I hate loud noises. I even hate noise and sounds that don’t even bother most people…

    I’ve thought quite a bit about the Make America Great Again hat, and about why I’ve reluctantly come around to wearing it. I appreciate wanting to blend into the background, but I think it’s ultimately a losing strategy. I was about to type a very quick post on the topic when I saw your comment; I’ll go do that in a moment.

    I don’t actually love guns; I don’t love inanimate objects. However, I like guns very much, own a bunch, and am a shooting enthusiast. I was being deliberately provocative when I said that to the woman in the bar, because I’d pretty much concluded that she tilted left and I wanted to be unambiguously pro-gun.

     

    • #14
    • June 23, 2019, at 8:30 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  15. Cow Girl Thatcher

    Randy Webster (View Comment):

    I realize that Trump has his flaws, but there was no way I was going to cast my vote for the most corrupt person to ever run for the presidency.

     

    I absolutely concur!! I was not exactly voting FOR Trump in that election. But I was definitely voting AGAINST the Democratic candidate. NO WAY should that woman have ever, ever been the leader of this awesome United States of America.

    • #15
    • June 23, 2019, at 8:35 PM PDT
    • 7 likes