Maine’s State Hat

Politicians like to designate state symbols.  In Ohio, for example, we’ve got a state bird (the cardinal), a state flower (the scarlet carnation), and a state tree (the buckeye).  Our state is also, by legislative designation, represented by such things as tomatoes, flint, ladybugs, and the white-tailed deer.

Although state legislators seem to love designating state symbols — it’s pretty much a no-lose proposition, since the losing candidates for state bird or state insect are unlikely to complain — they’ve left some territory unexplored.  It’s somewhat surprising, for example, that more states haven’t name a state hat. 

Texas has led the way in this regard; some years ago it named the cowboy hat its official state headwear.  But other states haven’t followed suit.  That’s somewhat surprising, because officially designated hats can tell you a lot about a state.  New York, for example, would be well-represented by the kind of pork pie hat that Rocky Balboa wore during his debt collection days in Rocky.  Minnesota would probably choose the “mad bomber” fur hat.  Florida might go for a sun visor with two beer cans with sip straws on each side.  And California could opt for the kind of effete, snobbish beret that the Hollywood types wear.

If Maine ever designated a state hat, it would definitely be a ball cap.  Everyone around here, male and female, seems to wear one.  But it couldn’t be just any ball cap.  No, it needs to be a nondescript, ancient, battered ball cap, preferably with some salt stains on it and a bill that has been repeatedly bent and features a fair amount of fraying.  And the cap has to be in neutral shades — blue, gray, or khaki — and bleached of most of its color by repeated outdoor exposure.  Once you’ve got the right kind of hat, you’ll never get rid of it.  In fact, some ball caps you see have probably been passed down from generation to generation through the family patriarch’s last will and testament.

We’re still working on getting our ball caps into appropriate Maine shape.  We’ll know we’ve done it when we wear one to town and one of the locals looks at us, nods, and says: “Ayuh.”

UJ’s Hat

IMG_6287Last weekend, on the father-son fishing trip to Hen Island, there was one dominant topic around the card table:  UJ’s hat.  It is pictured above, in all its glory.

When you’re drinking beer, smoking cigars, and playing cards, sophomoric humor tends to dominate, and usually there is one theme or target for the weekend,  This year, something about this humble hat provoked the onslaught of insult humor.  Some of the best lines:

Did you steal that hat from a homeless person?

How far down into the dumpster did you need to go to find that thing?

That hat looks like it’s ready to spontaneously combust.

Any readers so inclined are invited to share their jibes.

UJ explained, somewhat sheepishly, that he rescued the hat from the dustbin of history, when one of his friends was getting ready to pitch it — but now he wears it with a curious pride, knowing that he will suffer the slings and arrows of rude family humor.  It keeps the sun off his head, and the brim can be tugged and maneuvered into all kinds of shapes — which was one of the things that made the hat an apt target for our jokes.

The Hat Season

This is a crappy time of year for the glasses-wearing population of Columbus.  It’s been raining for days, and it’s like the scene in Forrest Gump where Forrest talks about the rain in Vietnam — sometimes big fat rain, sometimes sharp stinging rain, sometimes drizzle that seems to blow on the breeze.  Inevitably the spectacles end up coated with moisture, leaving the now-blinded, hapless glasses-wearing wretch stumbling through the mist.

Umbrellas aren’t a great answer, either.  For one thing, they’re cumbersome and a pain to use in the wind.  And if you’re lugging a satchel and notebook, you’ve got no hand free to hold an umbrella, anyway.

So, I’ve decided to wear a hat and trench coat on foul weather days.  I’ve had a Country Gentlemen Lite Felt hat for several years, but I haven’t worn it much.  This year, I’m going to change that.  I’ve worn the Country Gent the past few rainy days, and it’s perfect.  It’s warm, water repellent, and has an exceptionally wide drop down brim that keeps the raindrops off the lenses.  So what if I look like a bit player in a ’40s crime movie?  It’s worth it to be able to see on Columbus’ drizzly winter days.

A Summer Hat

Today I am in Cleveland, and I felt an overpowering urge to buy a hat.  That is, a summer hat — preferably a straw hat, but one that any self-respecting American would find fully appropriate to wear in the sweltering days to come.

Surprisingly, I found such a hat, and it is sweet indeed.  Cleveland needs more hats like this, which was bought for only $15 at a very friendly and helpful shop on the first floor at the Cleveland Arcade.

What’s wrong with a bit of straw — for only $15 — to start off the July 4 weekend?  I’m wearing this chapeau at a cookout on Saturday, and I am hoping that the attendees appreciate the beauty of this splendid chapeau.

Hats Off

Here’s a significant difference between men and women:  men could never spend hours discussing whether wearing a white hat to a wedding is appropriate.

Three of my favorite women in the world have spent the last hour or so researching the issue, consulting etiquette websites, analyzing whether the size and shape of the hat is relevant, and carefully discussing the pros and cons of wearing a white hat to a summer wedding.  I’m afraid I haven’t had much to add to the conversation.

I think it is safe to say that few men would have the patience to scrupulously assess the white hat issue.  On the other hand, many women probably would lack the interest to engage in a sustained discussion of whether the addition of more play-in games to this year’s NCAA Tournament is a positive development, or whether the many time-travel paradox questions raised by Terminator 2:  Judgment Day make the movie’s premise impossible.

Ode To A Fur Hat

When the temperature gets down to the single digits or below, the Mad Bomber fur hat is taken from the closet and worn with grateful appreciation.  On even the iciest days it keeps my head warm on our morning walks.  As Penny and I were strolling during this past weekend’s cold snap, I was moved to compose this bit of doggerel:

Ode To A Fur Hat

My winter hat, I hold you dear

On frigid days I know no fear

Your ear flaps hang, low and bold

And shield my ears from awful cold

Those icy days you heat my head

As if I were still snug in bed

Your feel is warm and richly furr’d

Who cares If I look like a nerd?