The Manetto’s Day Has Come

The other day on Twitter I mused that Vatican III will probably mandate special head-coverings for those with luxuriant sideburns, like, say, Bl. Martin Sheen in my new favorite movie of all time, Catholics. Who could concentrate on the Holy Sacrifice with such manly plentitude on display? I imagined the man-mantilla as a babushka scarf tied to allow just an oval of face showing.

Women are often blamed for being distracting just by existing, but it’s a two-way street. If 1972 Joey Molland showed up at my 5:30 Saturday folk Mass with his guitar, there is not a chance in heck that I would hear one word of the Word. Joey’s mere presence would also instantly undo the soul-cleanse of my pre-Mass Sacrament of Reconciliation, thus putting me in a State Not of Grace and thusly ineligible for Communion. Put Joey in a big scarf, though, and I’d regard him as one does a Sister or, say, my friend/bandmate/spiritual advisor/high school algebra teacher Deacon Tim. Sorry, Deacon Tim. But you know what I mean. (Deacon Tim, who happens to be across the room as I write this, just nodded in acknowledgment, sighed, and said “I wish you would stop writing about me, Mary.”)

Kevin Clarke of America Magazine fame was kind enough to root this out on the Internet. Seems there’s already a microswell in the direction of headcoverings for Catholic men. This fellow, Chuck, wants some kind of hat to wear as a mark of mourning—perhaps a biretta?
Chuck, I understand your need to wear an outward sign of grief. I would defend your right to do so no matter who thought it was weird. The lay biretta idea is a bit of genius, but I’m not sure that clergy would hand over such an incredibly special hat to laypeople. Frankly, I just don’t see it, Chuck. I would love to sport a biretta myself, and also a saturno, and that is also never, ever, ever going to happen.

Which brings us back to the ritual man-scarf. or man-mantilla. What could work better for Catholic hombres? It would cover any luxuriant hair/sideburns while leaving the holy face on display, thus rendering the man in question unlikely to be harassed for, say, not showing his face in public. I think it would even exceed its use as a possible death-oriented sacramental shroud. What upstanding traditional Catholic would eschew a chance to sacrifice his earthly vanity for the Lamb each Sunday? None, I’m guessing. Anyway, here’s some good news, all you beardos and goatee farmers: you won’t have to cover that stuff up. That’s nature’s way of quashing your pulchritude.

What should the man-covering item be called, I mused. Then the Holy Spirit, punctual as ever, whispered in my ear: “the manetto.” Manettos could become the cool new fashion of choice for TLM fans and as a voluntary show of modesty. Thank you, lads, in advance for not continuing to distract Catholicism’s resident geniuses in attendance—those “women” we’ve heard so much about, as well as the “gays” we’re supposed to just sorta accept these days. The manetto could be yet another place in the Venn diagram of the Faith, where supposedly opposing sides can come together, cover their heads and realize we are all on the same long, strange trip—or, if you prefer, an excruciating yet fun journey to possible Eternal Life with the Lord.

Distraction: disabled.

Distraction: disabled.

Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.