I have a hat dilemma.
I’m a big fan of hats. As a child I used to press my nose against the hedges of Ascot Races and admire all those fine people wearing such luxurious hats. Ever since I’ve dreamed of having my very own hat of which I can be proud.
And I found it. A brown Toledo. I don’t know what ‘Toledo’ means, I’ve only heard the word before in a Soledad Brothers song called ‘Mean Ol’ Toledo’ so that doesn’t help, so far I’ve yet to see my hat express any emotions, cruel or otherwise. It’s slightly perverse, then, that I’ve developed a powerful feeling of affection for this Toledo. Maybe I’m a sucker for unrequited love.
And why a hat? It’s not because of my childhood spent envying those at the Races. That never happened. A love of hats can probably be given a social or psychological or political or religious explanation. But there’s nothing self-evident to me at this time about why I love hats. I just do.
More people should wear hats. I firmly believe this. Everyone can find a hat that suits them and that hat, being the singular object it is, will invariably express something about the individual to the world, be it conscious or not.
I know a handful of people that really wear hats and each one is as fitting and unique as the other. Invariably they walk with an air of confidence, a stride that says, ‘Yes, this is a hat. I am proud to wear it because it says something about me and myself.’ This self-affirming mantra is sadly essential to any hat wearing.
Because I feel acutely aware that maybe wearing a hat may make me look like what might be classed as ‘a prick’. A Toledo can best be described as a trilby. They were worn lots in the 20s and 30s. I also own a pair of brogues. These were also worn in the 20s and 30s. Sometimes I wear the two together and if I’m feeling particularly extrrrrrrrravagant I’ll go the whole hog and throw in some tweed trousers, shit (shirt) and braces.
Why my subconscious makes me dress up as a half-hearted throwback to a lanky 30s gangster is a question I’m leaving for my mid-life crisis therapy sessions, but my crushing hat neurosis won’t leave me be. Do people think I’m showing off when I wear a hat? I don’t think that’s what I’m doing. Maybe my hat offends people. Do gangsters still wear trilbies? Does saving it only for special occasions make it become a thing? It’s probably all in my head and no one notices or cares that I happen to be wearing a hat. Why are people smiling/laughing when they walk past me? Would mummy and daddy approve of my hat?
And so on.
But that doesn’t matter. I have found my hat and I am happy with it. My hat can’t express emotions. I doubt it cares.