A hat’s a hat for all that

Opinions - May 18th, 2001
Robert J. Collins

by Robert J. Collins 

Generally speak­ing, my logic is impec­cable (from the Latin meaning “logic that is not peccable”). It goes like this:

I don’t like natto.

I’m glad I don’t like natto.

Because if I did like natto,

I’d eat it—

And I hate natto.

A similar situation exists with me and hats. I can’t ever remember liking to wear hats. I was always scandalizing the parents of my little classmates by appearing bare­headed on the coldest of days—a bad example for all—because my own cap never made it beyond the bushes just outside our front door (from where it was easy to retrieve as I returned home).

As an older kid playing Ameri­can football, I always wore a hel­met, of course, but I was quick to take it off once the action stopped. (I must have jogged to the moon and back in the form of penalty laps for not keeping that plastic globe on my head until various coaches said I could remove it.)

Looking at graduation photos from university, there are at least a dozen pictures of me standing around in my gown looking satis­fied (and/or relieved). Not one shot shows me with the square cap and tassel. I must have worn it at one point, but it’s not even in my hands in the photos. Probably put it down somewhere, or sailed it over the horizon.

And ride a scooter or motor­bike? Once the brain bucket law came into effect, that form of transportation was over for me. Can’t handle wearing any­thing on my head.

My impeccable logic regarding natto does not quite apply to hats, however. The problem is—I like hats. Always have. (“Hey, that’s a great hat. A man should have a hat like that. You never know when you’ll need it.”) It’s just that I hate to wear them.

Among the hats I’ve treasured through the years is one my uncle brought back from the war in Ger­many. It was an officer’s cap (which settled around my ears when I put it on). That same uncle gave me the top hat he wore when he met King George (which we had until my daughter dressed up one Halloween as Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hat and returned home with the thing full of melting chocolate).

I once bought a 10-gallon Stet­son on a business trip to Houston (“You never know when…”) and a bush hat in Australia (complete with dangling corks) because, well, you know. They rank up there with my straw boater (which my wife thinks “only European butchers wear”).

One of my treasures is a New York Giants baseball cap (yes, fans, a New York Giants baseball cap— straight from the old Polo Grounds) and, of course, my Chicago Cubs cap autographed by Ernie Banks.

In the realm of baseball, one of my hats I have actually worn for whole minutes at a time. It’s a love­ly pink-and-blue job with a pro­peller on top, like the beanies of yore (and which I had to carry on my lap all the way back to Tokyo from Santa Barbara since the pro­peller part was too delicate to pack). I wore it pitching against the Press Club in the Tokyo Interna­tional Softball League because it bothered them. “A distraction,” they claimed. (Press people are like that. My claim that I was lighter on my feet with that hat fell on deaf ears.)

The Mao hat my mother-in-law brought back from a trip to China, the Greek sailor’s hat a Greek sailor gave me (actually he was an insurance man, but that’s like being lost at sea), and the woolen tarn my great-grandfather wore when he dressed up and evict­ed tenants are all part of my treas­ures—treasures I will never wear.

And, my most recent acquisi­tion. I bought it last New Year’s day when visiting the Asakusa Shrine with my family. My daugh­ter bought a good-luck charm for her boyfriend. My wife bought for­tune-teller readings for all of us. (I must “mend my ways,” she says it says). I, meanwhile, bought… a hat. (You just never know when you’ll need something like that hat.)

As I write this, the police are looking for some creep who mur­dered an innocent young woman, apparently at random and without any motivation except that he’s a fruitcake. An evil one at that. When they catch him, they should hang him by his “lesser panda” or whatever name we apply to inti­mate body parts in a civilized pub­lication. He was wearing, by the way, a hat in that design.

That hat is the same as the one I bought at the Asakusa Shrine. When they catch that guy, they’ll find he either likes natto, or hates it. Impeccable logic.