Hats Off? No Problem Here

Published in The Ferndale Record-Journal, February 10, 2010

It’s not on my “bucket list.”  If I don’t ever do it before my number comes up, I’ll be OK.

But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to be a hat person.  I’ve always wanted to be one. You know who I’m talking about, right?  One of those people who wears hats effortlessly, casually, and looks good doing it.

I’ve exerted a valiant effort in this arena, but there’s always a glitch. The hat either looks like it’s been secured to my head with Krazy Glue, or it’s perched up there like a bird’s nest.

It feels itchy against my scalp, my hair looks weird coming out from under it, and I get the feeling people are alarmed at how ridiculous I look.  In short, hats look unnatural on me. Or maybe, more correctly, I look unnatural in them. Either way, it doesn’t work.

Maybe my head is unusually large. Or maybe I’m just self-conscious. I can’t seem to ever quite get it charmingly askew enough.  And let’s face it, that’s the key.

I have children who wear hats, I work with people who wear hats, and I’m a friend of many hat wearers. I wonder if they catch me studying them to discover how they do it so unassumingly.

My angst includes all kinds of hats. I haven’t been able to make an intimate connection with any of them.

Winter head coverings are the exception.  When there’s snow on the ground, I feel entitled to look as odd as necessary to keep warm. I have a couple of cold weather headpieces that I keep on hand just in case.

Once, in a fit of team allegiance and boldness, I bought a fitted cap at the Kingdome before a Mariner’s game, and wore it proudly, if awkwardly. I thought, of course, that a baseball cap at a baseball game might work for me, no matter how bizarre it looked.

After my friend pointed out that it appeared as though I was preparing to perform heavy construction, I took it off, dejected. Meanwhile I looked longingly at other fans that wore caps with impunity.  Apparently, even at an event that encourages the wearing of hats, I couldn’t do it right.

A few years ago, after a trip to Florida where I saw a lovely woman wearing a white baseball cap, I decided I should try again. Yes, the white cap would make all the difference. I would become one of “them.” My ponytail would cascade perfectly out of the back opening. I was finally going to be a living, breathing hat person.

I wore it twice. It hangs on the knob of my bathroom door, along with its brothers before it.

Why do I keep trying?

One summer my sister and I took a bicycling trip in the San Juan Islands. We bought hats at the drugstore in Friday Harbor and wore them all over town.  Mine was a multi-colored, tie-dyed, baseball cap. No logo, no swoosh—just a wild hat that I wore out loud.

I was happy, and warm sun was against my skin. My muscles worked hard on that trip and I felt strong, confident.  I was also away from home and people who knew me. Wearing a hat? No risk at all.

Clearly, it was a vacation hat. But for that little window of time, I was a hat person. And I’ve never forgotten how much I liked inhabiting that moment.

Because of that experience, hats and I will collide again. And one day, maybe after some practice wearing them around the house I’ll go public.

No heavy construction involved.


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