How Do You Pack A Hat?

Let’s say, hypothetically, that you (1) actually own a straw hat, and (2) want to take the hat on a trip. How do you pack a hat without it getting crushed and mauled in the interior of your suitcase as your luggage is hurled to and fro by the guys working in the baggage control department at the airport? Hats, unlike ballcaps, can’t be safely folded and tucked into the nooks and crannies of your suitcase without the structural integrity of the hat being forever and irreparably destroyed.

Our grandparents may have had hat boxes that they used to protect their hats from travel-related damage, but when was the last time you saw a hatbox? The best advice from the internet seems to be that you either (1) decide not to take your hat at all and opt for a ballcap or other form of headwear that can be flattened instead, or (2) turn the hat upside down and try to pack around the hat and stuff it carefully, so that it is immobilized during the journey and can preserve its shapely hat contours. I’m heartily skeptical that the second approach works, given the shifting and tossing that occurs with baggage. I’m confident that if I tried to pack a hat using this method, I would arrive with a totally destroyed hat.

No, I think there is no good way to pack a hat. That means that, if you are going to take a hat on a trip, you’ve got to wear it on the plane and in the airport. In short, taking a hat on a trip requires a clear, unwavering commitment and an overt, physical declaration of hat fealty. Taking a hat on a trip requires a kind of dedication that just doesn’t exist with ballcaps.

It’s Always Something

In this world, you always have to be prepared for something weird and seemingly scary coming just around the corner. Usually the distressing news falls into one of two categories: scary strange new health condition news, and scary strange insect or creature news. And just when you thought you were done with one, another one pops up.

On the health front, as soon as we breathe a sigh of relief that we’ve muddled through most of the COVID pandemic, with all of its Greek-lettered variants, “monkeypox” pops up as the next big thing–joining a long line that includes bird flu, SARS, ebola, and swine flu, way back when. On the critter front, we first were warned back in the ’70s about the swarms of “killer bees” that were going to invade the country from central America and Mexico, followed by an unbroken line of ticks, flies, wasps, and other biting, swarming, or disease-carrying pests, culminating in the “murder hornets” we heard about during the COVID shutdown months.

Now, we’re told, we should be concerned because the “Asian jumping worm” has appeared in California and many other states. Also known as the “crazy snake worm”–an even better brand from a horror-inspiring standpoint, in my view–these are big worms that are native to Japan and Korea that are about the size of a nightcrawler. And they are reported to be aggressive and, if disturbed, are known to thrash around and jump “a foot in the air.”

Admittedly, “crazy snake worms” that can jump a foot in the air aren’t as frightening as potentially deadly “murder hornets,” but some context is necessary. Gardening is supposed to be a pleasant, pastoral pursuit, where you can reconnect with nature, get your hands in the soil, and help pretty or useful things grow. It is a relaxing, solitary activity that is supposed to lower your blood pressure. Dealing with the threat of thrashing king-sized worms that can jump out of the soil at you when you are knelt down and focused on weeding is not supposed to be part of the gardening equation.

As I said, it’s always something. Now even the garden isn’t safe from the weirdness.