I’m not really a hat person. Never was too keen on wearing them. When I was a kid, my mother would despair that my ears would freeze and my hair had frost on it. Nope, I wouldn’t keep my parka’s hood up. Wouldn’t be caught dead in one of those hats with ear flaps. Toques made my head feel squished like a peanut. My head was just fine in the pure freshness of nature.
That’s not to say I’d never wear a hat. I actually bought one today. (Well, OK, Margaret bought it for me. An early birthday present.) Here we are in Palm Springs. The sun is bright. I am squinting. I think I already have enough laugh lines. Time to get a sunny-location-tourist hat. I love it. Looks good on me, don’t you think?
Now, whenever I want to feel like a tourist in a sunny place, I can put the hat on. Maybe even add a flowered shirt. It will work even if it’s cold, dark, and miserable outside. (Which, thankfully, it isn’t.) For me, hats are like that. Transformative. Like when a super-hero changes into the spandex outfit. (I’m not really a spandex person, either, but that’s a whole other story.) Clark Kent really was an insecure uncoordinated person when he wore his Daily Planet reporter suit. It was the outfit, you see.
I admit it. I have a secret hat collection. I rarely wear any of them, but I’m attached to them, nonetheless. Woe to anyone who tries to get rid of them.
There’s the cowboy hat. It says Kamloops on the label. I think I wore it at the Kispiox rodeo (just a spectator) and from time to time when I lived in the Kootenays. It evokes memories of growing up with cowboy movies, with riding off into the desert at sunset. This may be why the desert has a primordial attraction, why I crave it and feel so at home there, even though I grew up on the drizzly west coast of Canada. My parents hail from the European sub-arctic. Somehow, I must have got a desert gene from the hat – or from one of those old westerns.
Then there’s the bucket hat, not too stylish, but I wore it out of necessity – for protection from the intense sun while fishing for sea bass in the Sea of Cortez, off the east coast of Mexico’s Baja peninsula. Rarely have I felt so relaxed and away-from-it-all than when putt-putting along in that little boat and splashing my fingers in that warm clear water.
The knit crew cap (OK, so it’s a toque, but the knit is relaxed enough that it doesn’t deform my head) transports me to the rear deck of a tugboat or maybe inside, in its cozy, warm, oil-stove heated cabin, rumbling along at an easy cruising speed down the cool, flatness river that slices through the rush-hour pandemonium of the city, so near and yet so distant, on either bank.
And, of course, there’s the beret, which sits so jauntily on my head and announces that I am a member of the bohemian expatriate community that hung around the left bank of Paris during the 1920s and ‘30s, immersed in the spirited discussions at the noisy boulevard café, sharing the bottle of cheap but amazingly good local red wine on the table in front of me, waiting for inspiration to take hold so that I can go back to writing or painting or whatever it is that I do.
I know that there are some other hats as well, hiding on the top shelf of my closet. I’ll have to go dig them out, try them on one by one, and see where I want to be next.