Look what the hat dragged in

For a guy who still has the 18 ‘Til I Die T-shirt from Bryan Adams’s 1996 European Tour and several other T-shirts that are twice as old as his kids, I feel surprisingly confident with my ability to spot – and even better, to create – fashion trends.

The Magician

The one trend I truly thought would take off was the one with different colored shoes. About twelve years ago, I found really cheap summer sneakers, so I bought two pairs. One pair yellow, one pair orange, and then I wore then mixed so that one day I would wear a left yellow shoe and orange right shoe, and the next day vice versa.

Let’s just say that I never had any problems finding things to small talk about. But that fashion spark never caught fire.

In 2002, I decided that men’s hats would make a major comeback. This prediction has been well documented by Wife, whom I dragged to many a second-hand shop with me, and sent to a few others on her own, to look for the perfect hat. The problem with this gift I have, is that I don’t really have a vision, so I can’t describe anything to people in advance. But when I see what I want, I know.

And I knew none of the hats I had seen were right, and I knew that if I wanted to be the trendsetter, I had to move fast, or I would once again end up being the guy who says, “that was my idea”.

Then, one day at work, I saw a hat that our photographer had used as a prop in a shoot. It was a black Stetson, made under license in Finland, under the John B. Stetson brand from Philadelphia, PA, USA. “Renova 45 mm, mid weight”. Color: Black. I put it on during the shoot, and tried out what I was like to be a hat man. It felt good, but I returned the hat.

In the days, weeks, and months that followed, I would go talk to the photographer – whose boss I was – about different things, and each time, I’d play around with the hat. When he was on his summer vacation, I would wear the hat at the office all day long.

About six months later, during a major reorganization, all photographers were moved to a new organization, and a new location. When he was packing his stuff, I blurted out, “Can I have the hat?”

He scratched his beard, shrugged his shoulders, and said, “sure.”

I’ve worn the hat everywhere – and if I’m not mistaken, hats did become a trend a few years ago – but when Son fell in love with it, and it turned into a magicians hat, it, fittingly, disappeared.

A few weeks ago, with the spring sun back in these longitudes, I wanted to wear the hat again, and started to look for it everywhere. In Son’s room, down in the basement, the playroom, Son’s room again, in the hall, behind the bicycle helmets, with no luck. I asked Wife if she knew where the hat could be. She had no idea, but as a tip, she told me to look behind the bicycle helmets.

And there it was. Way, way, way in, against the wall.

So, for the past three weeks, I’ve been picking up the kids from school wearing this beautiful Stetson, and a pencil behind my ear, like a true gentleman. (The other kids don’t ask about my hat and the pencil anymore).

Today, I thought I’d buy Son and Daughter ice cream as a treat, so we drove to the mall right after school. Skipping, and running, and talking, we walked towards the store, when I suddenly noticed a man walking towards us. He was in his 60s, with white hair, and a white Clark Gable -style mustache. And a nice, black hat.

As we got closer to each other, he wearing his black hat, and me, wearing my Stetson, we kept staring at each other. When we were about three meters apart, our eyes met.

He smiled, I smiled back. He nodded, touched the rim of his hat with his index finger, then gave me the thumbs up, and kept on walking.

One of these days, we’ll all be doing that.

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