A Basket Case

In this room, there are eight hats that belong to my mother. Technically speaking, two are visors. One of the visors is made of cloth; the other hats are made of straw. Not once have I seen any of these on my mother�s head. It seems that for a period of several years, she collected hats just as she once collected baskets. There are baskets in almost every room, baskets in the garage, baskets nested, hanging, sitting, full, empty, pale, dark, stiff, soft, and varnished. Some of the baskets look like hats. Some of the hats resemble baskets.

This morning, just a few minutes ago between sips from my second cup of coffee, I happened to notice that one of the hats � a round, yellowish one with a wide, curled brim � looked quite a bit larger than the others. So, naturally, I tried it on. Oddly enough, of all the hats I�ve tried on during the last couple of years, this hat looks better than any of them. It is just wide enough to encompass the largeness of my head, and just ridiculous enough to frame my long beard and hair.

I have the hat on now. It has about a four-inch rounded crown, and is soft and pliable. If I were to wear it in public, it would most certainly draw stares, and likely a smile or two. Kids would like it. Men would frown. Women would take note and mention it later to their friends.

Men are not supposed to wear women�s hats, I know. But what is a man supposed to do when the men�s hats he tries on make his head look too big, or make him look like a caveman trying out for a role in The Godfather? The fact is, I need a large hat � a hat that is completely out of style, a hat that perhaps was never in style. Because of this, I have often wished I could travel back in time, just to observe hats. And if I found one I liked, I would bring it with me on the return trip � unless wearing it caused a ripple in history that kept me there.

I know this: if I had the right hat, I would rarely take it off. I wouldn�t bathe in it or sleep in it, but I would work, travel, and dream in it.

Why I feel this strongly about hats is a mystery to me. Maybe, like my mother, I simply like them. But I don�t think she ever worried about them, or thought about them as much as I do. I think they reminded her of baskets.

In one strange way or another, everything reminds me of hats: work, friendship, past events, the weather. When I see a shovel, I think of hats. When I remember my relatives, I think of hats. When I see people on the street, I imagine them in hats. During long days when life seems especially difficult, I am comforted by hats. And although there is no real basis for my belief, I am convinced that there is no problem that cannot be solved by wearing the right hat. Baskets are nice, but you cannot carry them with you out into the world. If you did, people would know you were crazy.

October 9, 2006

Previous Entry     Next Entry     Return to Songs and Letters     About the Author

Many of the poems on this site are available in print editions.
Main Page
Author�s Note
A Listening Thing
Among the Living
No Time to Cut My Hair
One Hand Clapping
Songs and Letters
Collected Poems
Early Short Stories
Armenian Translations
Cosmopsis Print Editions
News and Reviews
Highly Recommended
Let�s Eat
Favorite Books & Authors
Useless Information
E-mail & Parting Thoughts

Flippantly Answered Questions

Top of Page