I just spent several minutes studying my face in the mirror, and have come to the conclusion that I am mentally disturbed. No other conclusion could be drawn from the wild eyes and furrowed brow, or from the fact that I was standing there so long in the first place.

It all started when I was trying on hats. Every once in awhile, I like to try on the hats I�ve collected over the years to see if they still fit, or, in the case of ones that didn�t fit as well as they might have in the beginning, to see if they now fit better than they used to. I have always liked hats, and am forever on the lookout for that one truly great hat that, once it is found, will be a perfect extension of my personality and possibly even change my life forever. That exact thing happened to me once many years ago, when my parents gave me a long black wool coat; I never felt so lucky in my life. I still have the coat and wear it several times each winter, feeling lucky each time.

My wife bought me a hat last Christmas � a black wool hat that goes with my black wool coat. In fact, I have noticed that the hat only looks good when I am wearing black, which is something I have been doing more and more the last couple of years. Unfortunately, very few people these days wear hats. They wear baseball caps and call them hats, but baseball caps are not hats; they are caps. Hats have brims; caps have bills. Humphrey Bogart wore a hat, not a cap, except in African Queen, which doesn�t count, because I don�t want it to count.

When I was growing up, my uncles from the Big City wore the same kind of hats Humphrey Bogart wore, and Edward G. Robinson. I used to marvel at how their hats were part of their personality, as were the cigars they smoked, and the cards they shuffled. Now, if someone saw my uncles walking down the street in Salem, Oregon, they would think they were dressed up for parts in a movie. So much has changed. It angers me. Today, if a man wears a hat, everyone thinks he is trying to make a statement. Great herds of people wear baseball caps backwards, and no one thinks it odd; but if a man wearing a fedora at a jaunty angle walks down the sidewalk puffing on a cigar, he is considered weird. But he is not weird. He is a hero.

Once in awhile, I see musicians wearing hats. More often than not, they are using them as props, and I can tell they don�t wear the hats anywhere but on stage. They want to appear to be rebellious eccentrics, artists who live by no one�s rules but their own. But there are a few, thank goodness, who have been wearing their hats for so long that they have forgotten they are on their heads � those are real hat wearers, men to be admired.

Let�s see. Where was I? Oh, yes. I was trying on hats. I was trying them on, but then I became distracted by the strange face looking back at me from the mirror. The face was angry about something; it also seemed pleased and embarrassed, as if it were celebrating a hollow success. I said to myself: �So, then. It�s come to this?� And the face answered: �Darkness, darkness,� or something to that effect. Actually, it said nothing of the kind. It just happens that I heard a song by that name today. But I couldn�t tell if the man singing it, Jesse Colin Young, was wearing a hat, because the song was on a CD.

Of course, it can be argued that it doesn�t matter whether a man making a recording is wearing a hat or not. It can also be argued that it does, assuming hats are important to him, or even if they�re not. For instance, if a man doesn�t care one way or another about hats, and finds an unclaimed hat in a recording studio and puts it on, or if he ignores it or hands it to someone who works at the studio, any of these things can affect his performance � or not affect his performance. If I were in that situation, I would wonder about that hat for days. I would also wonder what I was doing in a recording studio, but I suppose that�s beside the point. Then again, maybe it is the point. In fact, if I really am crazy, maybe everything is the point. Now � wouldn�t that be interesting?

Also by William Michaelian

Winter Poems

ISBN: 978-0-9796599-0-4
52 pages. Paper.
Another Song I Know
ISBN: 978-0-9796599-1-1
80 pages. Paper.
Cosmopsis Books
San Francisco

Signed copies available

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