Thursday, January 08, 2015

Hostile or humorous? The GO F*CK YOURSELF hat

Last Sunday night we ate dinner at a Chinese buffet in Western Pennsylvania. It is in a semi-rural area and the restaurant was very busy, attracting a wide range of customers. As we walked out I noticed a scruffy twenty-something guy who was wearing a baseball cap that said GO FUCK YOURSELF.

We were with our granddaughters, ages 10 and 8 1/2. I was glad they had taken a different route out of the restaurant and missed seeing this fellow exercising his First Amendment rights to tell everyone who looked at him to GO FUCK YOURSELF.

After all, my young Catholic schoolgirls may or may not have heard that word before, but even if they have I would not have wanted them to confront this man, because then they might be fooled into thinking that somehow the word had slipped into acceptable usage. You can wear a cap that says HAVE A NICE DAY, or PITTSBURGH STEELERS, or CAT. But none of those hats would arouse anyone’s curiosity or ire, would they? People would assume that the wearer of the first cap is a nice person passing along a positive admonition, the second a football fan (and in Western Pennsylvania I think at least half the hats I see are STEELERS hats), and the third you might think is a farmer who got his hat when he went to see the new line of Caterpillar tractors. I did not have the time, nor the inclination, to confront the GO FUCK YOURSELF man. But instead over the past few days in my mind  I have run an imaginary conversation, speaking to the man about his hat that tells me in plain language GO FUCK YOURSELF.

“Excuse me, sir,” — note I call him sir — “I was wondering about your cap. I wonder what it means because it says GO FUCK YOURSELF.”

“You read it, din’tcha? It means GO FUCK YOURSELF.”

“Yes, but my question would be, are you saying GO FUCK YOURSELF in a hostile way? Are you mad at the world or something? Are you shouting an obscenity from your hat because of your positive hatred of society, refinement and decorum? Or would it be that you are making a joke, a satire on those rules of society that give you the right to wear such a message on your head, but you are testing the reactions of onlookers. Are you privately amused that they react as I am, for instance, to seeing it said so blatantly: GO FUCK YOURSELF.”

His scowl, which I noticed when I first saw him, would tell me something of his intentions. I am sure he would also tell me in person. “It means GO FUCK YOURSELF, asshole.”

Okay, then. So the message is not humorous, but hostile, which I took from his body language, facial expression, body odor and mud on his cowboy boots. So even though I would never wear it on my person, on a cap or t-shirt or even a bumper sticker on my car, I would respond back to him, “Well, you GO FUCK YOURSELF, too.”

The difference would be that I would be laughing. Until he slammed his fist into my face, that is.

I created this version of what I saw by digitally manipulating a photo from the Internet. It does not exist except here, in this electronic form. Because it doesn’t exist this hat is not for sale, so do not write me asking if you can buy it, and shame on you for thinking of it.

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