Where the hell do hats come from? I mean real hats. Good hats. I know you can get a stocking cap at any department store, and baseball caps are easy enough to come by. But the people I see walking around, looking hip with spiffy hats on their heads… where did they find them? In old-timey movies pretty much everybody wore a hat. And even in black-and-white they looked well-made and well-suited to the wearer. I understand that some milliner somewhere is crafting fine headwear for men and women of discriminating taste. But is there some kind of hat underground by which their wares are distributed discreetly to those few who are lucky enough to be in-the-know?
I also wonder how it is that certain people become hat-wearers? It seems a bold step to one day decide “I will no longer be a bare-headed person, and will henceforth adorn my noggin with a fedora, or a derby, or whatever hat I decide to adopt as my signature accessory.” There is no way to discreetly become a hat-wearer. It’s not like switching from briefs to boxers, where nobody knows unless you elect to show them and explain your decision, and even then it’s usually a decision driven by practical matters like comfort or cost, rather than fashion or the crafting of a persona. Your circle of acquaintance, those who see your head on a day-to-day basis, will notice right away that you have begun placing a specific arrangement of material atop your cranium, and will inevitably wonder why, and most certainly realize that you are trying to make some assertion about how you see yourself and how you want others to see you.
Animals don’t wear hats. At least I don’t think any of them do. Even the smartest animals. Dolphins? Chimps? Octopi? No hats. (Although, I do believe an octopus might look smashing in a houndstooth driving cap.) I guess hat wearing is what truly separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom. Maybe it’s hats that drive our species to the kind of conflict that other animals don’t engage in. The tribalism that precipitates war is marked by the kinds of hats worn by the combatants. Nevertheless, despite the shameful role that hats may play in mankind’s violent folly, I think I’d like to become a hat wearer. But I can’t go out looking for a hat to buy. I think the hat needs to find me… blown down the street by a cold gale, or accidentally shipped to me in error, adopted like a stray dog, or earned like a wrinkle or a scar. Otherwise the hat seems false… a costume, or a disguise. A statement that might not be entirely sincere.