Hat-shaped box

Welcome to this week’s Reno News & Review.

At the risk of writing another health-related column this week, let me tell you about my new hat. It occurs to me that those who don’t already get it, won’t understand it. Some hats are symbols for how others want us to be perceived by still others. For example, all the members of the congregation, the fast-food squad or the sports team have identical brims. Sometimes, we’ll choose to identify with a team we don’t belong to—we’re fans.

Some hats are symbols for how we want others to see us. They’re a combination of utility and fashion statement. I’m a hat-wearer of such a stripe. I basically own three hats, a wool stocking cap, a wide-brimmed, gardening hat and an Irish flat cap. I have a few other head-coverings in my closets, but these are generic, and if a stranger in a bar took one off my head, the bartender might not have to call 9-1-1.

I’ll never be one of those guys who shields his eyes from the sun with his hand because his baseball hat is on backward.

So, anyway, I’m retiring my old houndstooth flat cap. I got it from my Grampa George’s estate when he died 30 years ago. It had to be 30 years old then. The lining is worn through. I’m afraid to have it cleaned for fear of it crumbling to dust—things fall apart, as you know.

I’ve been looking for a new hat with half an eye for a year or so. I looked online, I’ve looked in malls and haberdasheries. Every time I saw a hat like the one I was looking for, I’d ask, “Where’d you get that hat?”

Finally, I landed at that Celtic store on Center Street, The Isles. They had one that was so close, so close—but not it. But they did have a new shipment coming in from Ireland. A few weeks later, they called. I recognized my hat as the shopowner came around the corner with it.

It’s new. I can feel the new of it as it drops over my bald skull. I hope when the next owner puts it on, he or she is contemplating its antiquity.