The Hat

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Finding the right hat, it’s hard. I have a friend, Kevin, who has been collecting and wearing hats for over 30 years. Dozens. His are valuable, they might be a kind of 401K.

It has taken me over 40 years to find the right hat..

I tried baseball caps and ‘gimme’ caps, but they were just not me. Not only did I resent displaying the logo of a team, a company, or an idea that I did not support, but they seemed so mindless. Like jeans. Which they tend to be worn with.

I tried berets. Give myself some Euro-cool, I thought. The beret made my scalp sweat. “Bonjour” said the cynics.

I tried caps next, the kind worn by peasants — my actual ancestors. I bought one in 1998 at C & A in Avignon that I still have. It keeps the top of my head warm (a factor, increasingly) but leaves my ears freezing. It has gotten kind of greasy.

Then last fall I found the perfect hat. Not the one in the picture, although it does seems perfect on her, as everything does. My perfect hat was a fatigued fedora, made in China, for $14.99. Thank you, Marshall’s. But after three months I left it on an airplane. Back at Marshall’s they were featuring spring stuff. I found one on eBay almost as good, and left it at the gym two weeks later. It was hatastrophe.

But SHE walks into a vintage store, looks around a minute, and finds the perfect hat.

I’m back to my Euro-cap, my peasant roots. The fabric is real, the sweat-stains my own.

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