When I was in the second grade, our class put on a presentation of Mary Poppins. My part was “Narrator #3”. Story of my life. I remember that as we prepared for that play, we learned songs from Mary Poppins. One of the songs we learned was called “The Perfect Nanny”.
Here are the lyrics:
Wanted a nanny for two adorable children
If you want this choice position
Have a cheery disposition
Rosy cheeks, no warts!
Play games, all sort
You must be kind, you must be witty
Very sweet and fairly pretty
Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets
Never be cross or cruel
Never give us castor oil or gruel
Love us as a son and daughter
And never smell of barley water
If you won’t scold and dominate us
We will never give you cause to hate us
We won’t hide your spectacles
So you can’t see
Put toads in your bed
Or pepper in your tea
Jane and Michael Banks
It seems like a lot of people are taking it upon themselves to apply for the position of “nanny” these days. And I’m not talking about working with children, either. I’m afraid that being behind a computer screen emboldens a lot of people to lecture others, particularly about their personal choices.
This morning, I read an interesting article about top dressage riders protesting the use of helmets instead of top hats in competition. I was interested in the article, because I used to own and show a horse myself. My discipline was “hunt seat”, which required the use of a hunt cap. In the 1980s, a hunt cap was a hard hat covered in velvet or velveteen. When I first started riding, they didn’t all have chin straps. After a few years, harnesses were required. I pretty much hated them, but eventually got used to them. People who rode Western had cowboy hats with no protection.
These days, riders wear huge bulbous helmets that look more like something you’d see on a motorcycle. I’m sure they have saved people from catastrophic, life altering injuries or death. But they are aesthetically less appealing and may or may not be very comfortable to wear. I don’t know if they are or not. I’ve never tried one on, myself. I do kind of miss the look of the velvet hunt caps, even if they aren’t as safe.
In any case, a large number of expert dressage competitors hate the helmets. They don’t want to wear them. They have sent a petition to the powers that be, demanding that they be allowed to keep their top hats for the highest echelons of competition.
According to Dressage Today, the petition reads:
“The top international dressage riders would like to make a formal demand to the FEI to keep the option to use the top hat in international competitions for Seniors. There has never been a serious accident at an international dressage competition, and the riders believe there is no reason to change that for senior competitors at CDI4*/5*, Games and championships on Grand Prix level.
“The top hat is an essential part of the identity of dressage. The dresscode makes us unique and we feel very strongly that the top hat remain as optional to use, but only at the highest level of competition. For awards ceremonies, the use of protective headgear can remain mandatory.
“It should be noted that there are other disciplines that are not required to wear helmets, and we feel that this inequality is not warranted. We urgently request that the FEI add this matter to the agenda for the next General Assembly, and change the rule accordingly. We believe it is the right of each individual rider to choose between the use of a top hat or protective headgear. This right cannot be revoked.”
As I have written several times in my blog, I’m not a big fan of people telling others what to do. I hated seatbelts when I was growing up. I’m not too fond of them now, but I comply with the law because it’s easier and because if I don’t, the car and Bill both turn into Pat Boone. I could choose not to comply and probably get the stink eye from Germans… and maybe a stiff fine.
Same thing goes for face masks. I hate them, but I comply with regulations. And I truly hope that either an alternative is designed or the COVID-19 virus is vanquished enough so that they become unnecessary. I find the masks depressing and uncomfortable and I can’t wait to see them gone. I don’t put masks in the same league as seatbelts and helmets. In any case, I don’t presume to tell other adults what to do. Nobody likes a lecture, and lecturing people is mostly a waste of time, anyway. All they do is piss off others.
I had to go read the comments on the Facebook post about the top hats. It was like reading another article about mask protesters. People were saying things like, “Wear the damn helmet!” And the other side came back with, “Don’t tell me what to do!”
I’m sure it makes people feel better to tell off those who aren’t following the rules. Personally, I like to think that adults are capable of making their own decisions. I feel this way about voting, too. I may completely disagree with your choices at the polls, but I figure you have your reasons for voting the way you do. I doubt a lecture from me is going to change your mind, and it’s none of my business anyway. I wouldn’t want you to lecture me about my vote… and as someone who sometimes votes third party, I sure have been on the receiving end of a lot of those kinds of comments.
I can see why dressage riders like their top hats. Maybe someone will come up with a design for a top hat that is safer than the old version, yet provides the same aesthetic. I do miss the velvet hats in hunt seat. They looked very elegant compared to the big helmets of today, although I will admit that the helmets are easier to keep clean and probably last longer because they can withstand the elements better. In that sense, they’re more practical, as well as safer. But I don’t begrudge those who like the old way. They have their reasons for feeling that way, and they should be heard without being ridiculed, insulted, or shamed, as long as they present themselves in a respectful way.
If you’re being rude as you present yourself, then all bets are off when it comes to the response you’ll get. That’s why I felt okay about telling that guy to go fuck himself after he accused Bill of being a “bad person”. If he had not been insulting first, I would not have responded in that manner… or at all, for that matter.
Just like Jane and Michael sing in their song about the “perfect nanny”, people don’t like to be scolded and dominated, nor do they like to be force-fed things that are unpleasant, even if it’s “for their own good.” I think it’s best to let people draw their own conclusions and hope they’ll make the smart choice.
Time for breakfast…