in which the naked chimp is unmasked, his machines debugged, and his bugbears debunked

Friday, September 28, 2007

All Hat and No Pants (pitbull on the pantleg)

When we say something is ‘all hat and no pants’ this is usually not a compliment. It’s a judgment about something that looks as it should but limps where the lacking counts. Pants themselves may be signs of an effort to achieve the pleasure of satisfaction, but ‘pants’ is the bottom of the barrel, as the phrase ‘a complete load of pants’ shows. But even as we dismiss pants, we remain obsessed with them – we have become panthounds, always always sniffing after a bit of leg. Dogs need four, but humans are doubly depraved: a mere pair of legs is enough to keep us erect and on the hunt.

What our contemporary trouser fixation also shows is our worship at the church of latter day confusion. Like a leg-humping Cocker, we are panting up the wrong leg. And while we remain fixated on the pants at hand, we’ve inevitably forgotten what’s going on upstairs. We’ve become all pants, and no hat – a society that has forgotten its hat for so long it is now no longer able to wear it. The very sight of a real hat among the young would cause an outbreak of fear and loathing: even if kids these days knew what one was, they wouldn’t know where to put it. You can imagine the headlines on the day of his promised return:

Headline: ‘The Cat in the Hat has Come Back!’ (or maybe just ‘Cat in Hat: Back’)

Kids (these days): The Cat in the… Hat? What’s hat?

Imagine the contemporary confusion of ‘The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat’. In our disenchanted, hatless world, who knows what he would have mistaken her for – this season, it would probably be leggings, or those godawful spray-on jeans. ‘The K’d up Coolsie Who Mistook the Girlfriend he had Mistaken for a Hat for Leggings and Adicolors’ – now that’s a mouthful – let’s thank the man upstairs we weren’t there to see that case of mistaken identity in the second-degree, whose sordid acting out would have to look something like George W’s ‘ten gallon twat’ message to the voters during his governorial campaign a decade or so in the state of Texass:

‘I am a pitbull on the pantleg of opportunity’.

Oh, you poor, sad, pant-munching pitbulls. Whatever happened to you? Some say that it’s mans erection that distinguishes him among the apes, but the truth is that it’s hats that have, until recently, distinguished us among ourselves. And with the final piffing of the lids, we have doffed our caps for the last time to any kind of legitimate authority. We no longer know who we are, because we no longer know who ‘they’ are.

Once upon a time, real men wore hats, while men with authority wore really, really stupid hats. Silly hats were serious business. The bishop’s mitre, the judge’s wig, the palace guard’s bearskin, the king’s crown – the sillier the hat, the more serious the business. Back in the good old days, if you were brought before a panel of men, the ludicrousness of their headwear was a fairly accurate indication of how much trouble you were in. If you were ‘judged’ by nine old men wearing truly preposterous hats, you were doomed.

But with the removal of the silly hat from public life, the distinction they lent the wearer has likewise disappeared. These days, we resort to saying ‘(s)he wears the pants’. It’s something we admit with more resignation than reverence. Why obey the pantwearer? Out of love? No! Just because of your lowdown panty needs. If you want to get into someone’s pants, you’ve got to allow them to wear them first – hence. But maybe it’s not even for our benefit, so much as just indifference and boredom – because there’s nothing else to do, and no-one else to obey, simply due to the fact that there’s no-one left willing or able to wear silly hats anymore.

Maybe this is why people are increasingly drawn back to the extremes of religion and tradition. For your average ‘hatless wonder’, (who could never wear the silly hat; because the silly hat would end up wearing them) the sight of a bunch of men not only wearing dresses, capes and stupid hats but pulling it off with splendid calm evokes a remnant of that ancient awe our ancestors must have felt at the sight of two odd foot of be-jewelled bearskin on top of a bearded Pharisee. Maybe the commitment of Islamist terror groups to jihad is not based on the prospect of virgins in the afterlife at all, but a quiet reverence for the successful wearers of silly hats. For these are men who are not only willing to die for their cause, but are willing to do so while sporting (and supporting) silly hats, hats that actually suit them.

If this is true, then war the war on terror will never be won by the US until such time as its leaders realise: dying for the flag is nothing compared to dying for the hat. They don’t need a ‘strategy’, they need a really, really, really stupid hat. Until they know that, they will remain as they are: witless, hatless, dogged rutters despondently trying to find a leg to hump somewhere on the barren expanse Osama’s robe-covered pantleg.

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PC is an animal of the antipodes believed to be related to a gibbon.