On straight hat bills and grumpy old men

Being an incredibly witty and insightful commentator on the absurdities of life is easier when you’re younger. People think you’re simply being delightfully sarcastic or wry.

But, when you’re older and you point out something ridiculous, people immediately think you’re just being a grumpy old man. They will inevitably nail you with that joke about yelling at kids crossing your lawn.

The sheer triteness of that joke annoys me almost as much as, well, kids cutting across my lawn (Hey, fertilizer and seed are expensive. I’m not made of money here. C’mon.).

Here’s what got me thinking about this. The other day, I took Henry back-to-college shopping and found myself in a store with a rack of baseball caps. Except they weren’t the kind of baseball caps I’ve worn my whole life.

No, they were those godawful “fashion” baseball caps that younger people wear, with the stiff little bills that you’re not supposed to curl, as God and Babe Ruth intended.

I hate those things. I really do. First of all, they look dumb. I’m sorry, they do. The teeny little bills make the wearer look like a duck, not a ballplayer, and the whole point of a baseball cap is to look like a ballplayer or at least someone who likes playing in the dirt.

The idea with a fashion baseball cap, on the other hand, is to keep it looking factory-fresh. Which is, I’m sorry, ridiculous. The first thing any self-respecting kid of my generation did with a new baseball cap is crumple it, stomp it, and grind it into the dirt.

Then and only then was it fit to wear.

Also, for some reason, fashion ball caps are worn slightly askew, rather than with the bill pointing forward, as God and Al Kaline intended. Which I simply don’t understand.

The hats weren’t designed to sit that way on your head. I know, because I tried one on. They’re designed to be worn normally. And do you know why? Because clothes, even caps, are never meant to be worn cockeyed. You don’t see anyone walking around wearing pants, shirts, or shoes turned one tick to the side, do you?

So why hats? Why do “kids these days” (yes, I went there) insist on wearing that one item that way?

The lovely-yet-formidable Marcia says, “Just to irritate you, dear.”

Well, it’s working! I immediately posted a photo of the hat rack to Facebook and said, “I want to bend the bill of every one of them.”

That, of course, prompted the lawn jokes in response.

But, listen, I didn’t gripe about the hats because I’m old.

I griped about them because I believe that, if we don’t mock the dumb things in life, they never fade away, as dumb things should (the Macarena is a good example).

Up with that I shall not put. And thus this column.

Pointing out the absurdity of duck-billed fashion hats doesn’t make me “old.” It makes me observant, insightful and … hold on.

Gotta get back out on the porch. I think I hear the neighbor kids coming.