The girl and the Mad Hatter
I’m a big believer in wearing a hat in the winter, and for a long time I tried to convince others to join me. Not join me under the same hat, of course. You can get your own.
On this subject I wrote columns. I badgered friends and coworkers. I did everything but perform educational shows with thermal sock puppets, but my pleas fell on deaf, unnecessarily exposed ears.
So I gave up my crusade.
But I took solace that my family knows better. My parents wear hats. Their parents wore hats. I am always, always wearing a hat. And my wonderful 14-year-old daughter, well, she wears a look of utter distaste whenever I mention the H-word.
“You know, Abby, it’s gonna be pretty cold today,” I tell her as we make our way out of the house. “Why not …?”
“No, I’m good,” she says.
I’d look to my wife, Ellen, for help, but her head is similarly unadorned. I will receive no backup.
Abby and Ellen tell me their arguments, and I’m not totally unsympathetic. I understand there are only two foolproof ways of avoiding “hat hair,” and one of them is leaving your hat behind. (The other is leaving your hair behind, which was the path chosen for me.) But really, what’s a messed-up mop when compared to the exhilaration of beating the elements?
Abby is not completely anti-headwear. In blizzards and subzero temperatures she will reach for the hat in the hall closet, but in all other instances, it’s the second-to-last thing she wants to see.
The last thing she wants to see is me in my hat.
I apparently do not have in my skill set the talent to know how far down one should pull their woolen cap. When it covers my ears, I’m happy, and I stop pulling. But I’ve been informed by loved ones that pulling another inch or two makes the difference between looking like a hardened winter warrior and looking like one of Santa’s elves.
“Dad, your hat …”
“It’s fine,” I tell her, as she envisions being taken to school by a character in a stop-action Christmas special.
I’m not proud to admit I’ve used this to my advantage.
“I’ll pick you up at Steak ’n Shake at 9:30,” I tell her. “If you’re not out in 10 minutes and don’t answer my texts, I’ll come inside.”
“And I’ll be wearing the hat.”
“I’ll be out at 9:30,” she says.
Looking back, I can see how her hat feelings took root. Abby’s favorite childhood book was Dr. Suess’ “The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins,” about a boy who sees another hat appear on his head every time he takes one off. It almost leads to his execution, so, yeah, that might not have been the best story for a hat proponent to read to his daughter night after night.
The winter is long, and I believe Abby and I can find middle ground before springtime. I now realize that maybe it’s best not to wear your cap so high you could store frozen leftovers inside it. And Abby realizes that, when going from the car to the school, wearing a hat for those three seconds won’t make a whit’s worth of difference — except it will keep her father from bellyaching. See, that’s some headway.
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