Ms. Anne Thrope seemed irritated as we closed the shop on Tuesday.
“We didn’t do too well today, did we?” I asked, though I knew that the shop had been busy all day and we had sold all of our paklava and ma’moul.
“No, we had a good day. I’m feeling a bit irked, but it has nothing to do with business. With manners.”
“Yeah, I heard that big argument about Christmas greetings and ‘happy holidays’ and ‘merry Xmas.’ People seem to miss the point of Christmas when they feel such a need to be defensive and attack people who don’t share their exact perspective. Especially when they don’t know that the X represents the Greek letter Chi, which is the first letter of Christ so that Xmas is simply an abbreviation of Christmas.”
“Wait,” Ms. Anne gave me a halt sign with her palm. “I don’t need you to start mansplaining because you don’t know what is bothering me.”
“I apologize. I didn’t intend to get started. Some days I talk because I don’t know what’s going on and I fill in the space. An old trait that seemed to grow in adolescent anxiety, but there I go again. I’ll stop.”
“I’m glad that you understand my perspective.”
“I’m curious, Ms. Anne. Are you going to tell me what irritates you?”
“I think you’ll see a change here tomorrow. I’m going to put up a new sign by the door. Big enough for people to notice, I hope.
“Last night I took some friends out to dinner at one of the better restaurants in the city. McSorley’s Emporium—I love the sense of irony in that place and the nod to old New York! But in the middle of the restaurant was a table of twelve or fifteen men and every one of them had on a baseball cap or a trucker’s cap or a farmer’s cap. I guess to hide their baldness, but hiding it doesn’t make the baldness go away. I think keeping a cap or hat on indoors is rude, especially when dining. I grew up in a time when caps and hats were removed indoors. Have I given you enough of a mansplanation?“
“I think I understand. In many ways, you’re old school.”
“That is correct. And so I’m going to put up a notice effective January 1 that men should remove hats and caps indoors if they wish to receive service. No shoes, no shirts, no service is the idea. Cap on the head—no service.”
“That’s a losing battle, Ms. Anne. People will just go to the chain coffee shop. Their staff has to wear hats at work.”
“And if people go there, I will still feel that I have stood for a good principle. I feel better already. Good-night.”