DEAR MISS MANNERS:
Does a gentleman’s “tipping” his hat look too much like a military salute? Since I seldom see any male wearing a real hat, I’d almost forgotten this gesture. I think it had been at least twenty years since this has meant grasping the hat brim and ether lifting the hat an inch or two, or just grasping and releasing the brim.
You have obviously not met a polite cowboy in twenty years. The rule is the same as it always was: A gentleman removes his hat when speaking to a lady or sharing an elevator with one, and lifts his hat as a gesture to a stranger from whom he receives a courtesy or thanks for a courtesy of his. As you have noticed, however, it does require a hat and is therefore seldom performed. The military salute is much more energetic, but it also comes with PX privileges.