Scene One: A sun, sea, surf and sand resort early on a blazingly hot morning. In a dining hall the size of a ballroom, people are having breakfast. A man at a nearby table is having eggs and sausages.
He is also wearing a hat. He wears the hat, a baseball cap, at the buffet table and throughout breakfast.
To compound the outrage, he is wearing the baseball cap peak backwards. Which makes him look, of course, like a profound doofus. In England they would say he looks like a right Charlie, in other words, a goof.
Scene Two: Smart Italian restaurant in the same resort. Dress code says you must wear long pants to be served.
A man at a table with three others is wearing long pants. But he is also wearing a hat, a tacky yellow straw thing. He wears it throughout dinner.
He is not breaking the long pants rule, but there is something disconcerting about him sitting through an elaborate meal wearing a hat.
Now in the vast panoply of human drama played out in restaurants every day, wearing a hat while eating publicly is not especially worrisome or indeed of any dramatic social importance whatsoever.
But there is something about it that grates. It's like watching somebody pick their teeth in a flamboyant display of toothpick dexterity.
And I am a devoted hat guy.
There is a marvelous scene in an episode of the "Sopranos" which speaks to this very point. Tony takes Carmela out for a nice Italian meal (what else?) at a fine restaurant. He sees a young man in his twenties dining with his girl friend. The young man is wearing a baseball cap.
Tony excuses himself, walks over to the table and politely asks the young man to remove his cap. The young man replies with a lot of smart ass back talk. Tony gives the kid the patented Soprano Mafia death stare. The kid removes the cap. Tony later sends a good bottle of wine over to the table.
Admittedly wearing a hat while dining is not the most egregious breach of table etiquette; it's not as bad, say, as George Costanza blowing his nose into a linen table napkin in a "Seinfeld" episode.
But it does say something about the decline in the practice of good manners generally and table etiquette in particular.
Good manners are the lubricants which get us through the abrasions of the day. They are the human way of putting a grace note into our interaction with others.
But they vary from society to society and culture to culture. For example, Canadians are notoriously polite. A friend once had his foot run over by some clown in a golf cart. My friend apologized.
On the other hand, in some African countries, it is a compliment to spit on a new acquaintance.
In his latest book, wonderfully entitled Would It Kill You to Stop Doing That, Henry Alford argues that the essence of good manners is sensitivity.
He writes: "To practice good manners is to confer upon others not just consideration, but esteem."
When I mentioned my discomfort over the hat incident to an impeccably mannered friend, she accused me of rampant molehill building. What she really meant was that I am in the early stages of old fartism.
Which might well be the case. But I'm still concerned about the increase of hat-wearing restaurant diners. And I'm working on my Mafia Death Stare.