Many men who reach that certain age develop an affection for hats.
The reasons are not just the gradual loss of beyond the gradual loss of hair, and hair color. Ever since John F. Kennedy went hatless to his bitterly cold presidential inauguration, head coverings for men have been considered extraneous.
As men grow prosperous, they acquire money to spend on hobbies, sports collectibles, fashion and travel. They discover the differences in western, riding, racing, cricket, Greek fisherman, fly fisherman, angler, national park souvenir cap and railroad engineer hats, and they’re proud of the acquired knowledge. When they’re stuck in an airport for several hours, after a few beers, that collapsible Australian bush hat begins to look good, or, at least, practical.
And then there’s politics. I’ve written previously about how I can’t wear a red cap anymore. The hat has no writing or logo on its crown. It’s a simple, well-made hat that I bought it at a Brooks Brothers shop because I was traveling to crowded places on a group tour and, just in case I wanted to be recognized, I would wear the hat. I wore the hat on the trip without difficulty. Then a new political wind blew into this country and that cap, with similar caps in white and blue, has since become connected to a policies, attitudes and manners of behavior that I don’t support.
In addition to their affectation for hats, men of that certain age become forgetful. They may find themselves, as I did this morning, wishing for an intensely practical hat that I purchased a few years ago. It was a black fleece cap like many others I’d bought for cold weather. This had had fleece ear flaps that, when not in use, folded back into the crown of the cap.
This was one of two hats I bought at a Quebec City hat shop. The other was a white riding cap that looked good on me in the store, but, when I tried it on at home, made me look like some ancient duffer hanging around a South Florida golf course bar.
Alas, guys of that certain age do not want their clothing to age them, even if they are far past the birthday when birthdays matter. So., if I should ever visit the Sunshine State and want to fit right in, I have the right hat.
I must confess that guys my age also lose things, especially hats. This morning, as a chill winter wind turned my ears numb, I thought on all the black caps I forgotten in movie theaters, restaurants, cabs, airport transfer buses that are warmer than they should be, plus all those places that, if I knew I where I’d lost the cap, I’d go back, right now, and find it.
Of course, the hat I missed the most was the black ear flapper. When the flaps were folded back into the crown, it resembled any other black cap. But when the wind blew so cold that it numbed my ears, and brought down the flaps, the hat was like no other.
I winced at the cold this morning as I walked the dog. She wore her new magenta coat. I was clad in layers, with an old but beloved scarf around my neck and a black cap I’d grabbed from the hat pile near the front door because it matched my pea coat.
I’ll add two more “certain age” type facts: when an older man’s fancy turns to hats, he really doesn’t know how to turn it off. My wife bought a hat rack a while ago when I only had six or so. Now I have so many they perch on the banister finials, pile up atop the dog’s crate and squat on my office floor like mushrooms after a rainy day. I don’t have just one black cap. I have many.
But I missed my black flapper as the wind raked my ears.
My last “certain age” fact: despite the fact that we older guys have climbed mountains, traveled the world, met famous folks, passed our rites of passage and survived the consequences of too many foolish, stupid things, miracles still happen to us. They don’t happen every day. They don’t happen when we wish they would. At times we’ll get in moods where we are certain miracles will never happen again.
But they do.
When I came home from the chilly morning dog walk, I unfastened the dog’s coat and harness, untied my scarf and hung it on a hook, slipped off my coat, and tossed my cap on the pile. It rolled over and I noticed the black ear flaps inside.
I had mourned the loss of my favorite cap, while it was on my head.
So much for age, and being certain.