The Hard Hat

The HHBrotherhood: A Complete Lack of Elegance

Being the founder of the Hard Hat Brotherhood I have had the pleasure of observing what I refer to as “Guy Behavior”. In other words, I get to see first hand the actions and attitudes when guys get together. Not “men” mind you but specifically “guys”, which by way of definition means when the veneer of a politically correct man is removed and the true guy spirit within is revealed. For example, the word “man” equals a three-piece suit and tie on an individual that can be taken to a social engagement with minimal supervision. A “guy” is that exact same individual who is now hogging the remote control and eating cold pizza in his underwear. No one said that “guy-dom” was pretty; functional maybe, but not necessarily pretty.

Recently an article in a Chicago newspaper featured an interesting quote about the Hard Hat Brotherhood that I thought to be profound. In the article the woman basically stated that there was an ever-growing group of men known as The Hard Hat Brotherhood and that they “lacked elegance”. When I read that statement I paused for a moment and thought to myself, “well duh, what did ya expect?” The profound part, which I found humorous, was the fact that the lady being interviewed had just finished singing to the columnist “I’m a Little Tea Pot”. Now is that a case of the teapot calling the hard hat inelegant? Anyway, I loved the comment that we lack elegance, in fact I believe that guys in general love showing this very type of behavior. Why else would we do things that are deemed socially unacceptable to women? We have elegance...of a sort. Do we not wear clean jockey shorts to all our HHBrotherhood events? Do we not proudly sport our neon colored hard hats for all to see? Are we not the ones who extol the virtues of hanging out with those of our own kind in the spirit of true guystuffness? I ask you, is that not elegance?

Maybe the appearance of inelegance is because there are so many inelegant ways that guys can present themselves. For example, did you ever see how a guy repairs things? There are two key components that are in every guy’s toolbox without fail. These are duct tape and more duct tape. We have a Crew in New Haven, Michigan called Tools of the Trade. Foreman David Smith informed me that their motto is “When Only The Right Tool Will Do” and proudly displayed right smack in the middle of their Crew logo is a big roll of duct tape. Guys have found duct tape to be the great equalizer of all men as far as fixing anything at any time. Case in point; not too long ago one of my home toilet seats cracked leaving the potential for a nasty pinch if extra precautions were not taken. The solution – after cleaning the wounded area with the proper solvent, a vigorous quantity of #5 grade grey duct tape was applied. This was not only to prevent the afore mentioned nasty pinch but also to keep the broken area from further damage due to constant use. Problem solved.

Another example of male inelegance would be how guys act around their wives and girlfriends. We would love to think of ourselves as dashing James Bond types just oozing class and debonair qualities. Unfortunately the only oozing that may occur is a direct result of the double meat and bean chili we had for lunch. Guys can’t help it.

If we are out at some gathering and the game of the week just happens to be going on at the same time, what are we supposed to do? The solution is a set of mini headphones and a portable radio. As long as you are not discovered everybody is happy. I am sure if the Pastor at my wedding had found me out he would have given me the big thumbs up. He had twenty bucks riding on U of M too.

After reflecting on my own guy behavior I have concluded that the overall number of examples that can be considered as inelegant are incalculable. Yet even if most are deemed not “proper” in social circles one in particular does merit an honorable mention.

I believe that “zoning out” when in a long-winded conversation with your significant other is perfectly acceptable and should not be considered as a lack of elegance. For those who are not familiar with this term, and you know who you are, zoning out is the semi-meditative state a guy puts himself in when the afore mentioned long-winded conversation with said significant other reaches a point that: A) it no longer contains any content that has significant relevance to him, B) you suddenly find that your naval lint is more interesting or C) you did not want to participate in this conversation in the first place. “Zoning” as guys call it, should be considered a self defense mechanism and the key reason many relationships last longer. The point at which zoning can be considered a lack of elegance is when your significant other catches you and now realizes that you haven’t been listening to a word she has said for the past fifteen minutes. For this reason one should show some signs of restraint in exactly how deep one actually zones out.

Ultimately, it is not that we as guys are trying to denounce all proper behavior, rather I feel that how we as men act around each other is what brings us closer together. The ability to be ourselves, regardless of the social norms usually observed is what makes a HHBrotherhood event a time of relaxation and fun. It is those shared moments when the stresses of every day life are not so pressing that we can feel the tension slip away. At this point we are reveling in our complete, inelegant guyness and loving every minute of it! Of course, it is also right about this time that the double beef and bean chili kicks in and the true inelegance begins. But then, we are guys, it’s what we do.

©2007, Andy Smith

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Source: Andy Smith, HHBrotherhood Central, 8449 Parkridge Drive, Dexter, MI 48130, or 734.846.2283 or or

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