I wear a fedora. No, not a menorah, a fedora: a type of hat — a type of hat that has fallen out of favor with the stylish set among common folk. But it was once a favored hat among most folk, common or stylish. Many of the mountain men depicted on TV and movies wore fedoras. So did gangsters. I think this style of hat captured my fancy first when I saw Indiana Jones. Indy wore a fedora. In fact the brown cloth fedora I wear is an official, licensed Indiana Jones product. Did I order it from some Indiana Jones fan web site or buy it at a fan convention? No; I found it in a discount tool store. One of those Dollar General-like places that buys, at liquidation prices, stuff that regular retail stores haven’t sold and want to be rid of. They were on close-out sale, but even Tool World wasn’t having much luck moving them.
Marie and I were just browsing: we were in this town for another purpose but had some time and tool stores are fun to explore. My eyes lit up when I saw the display; I’d been looking for a brown fedora for a while now. We’d been in all the local stores that carry clothing, they had a variety of hats, some not bad, but not fedoras. Marie quipped about how many places we had searched for a fedora and here we find them in a tool store. I trotted over and started looking through the selection for one my size.
I hate clothes shopping because it’s so hard to find clothing that fits me, especially shoes and hats. Shirts are no problem and Marie can hem up pants, but shoes, gloves and hats are another matter.
I was born in Texas. They say everything is bigger in Texas… so I must be a Texan leprechaun. I know 12 year olds who are taller than I am.
I found the smallest one they had on the rack and tried it on… a tad big, but not outrageously so. I have to wear two pair of socks with my dress shoes to keep them from falling off because the smallest size available was a size too big – I could poke cotton in the inside band to snug it up if I had to. I checked the tag inside to see what the price was.
I tossed it back like it had burned my fingers. “What?” Marie asked, “How much is it?” I told her. “Well,” she reasoned, “official, authorized fan stuff is always expensive. In a retail store it was probably triple that.”
“Yeah, but…” and I started making excuses.
“How long have you been looking for a brown fedora? For THAT hat?”
“So: splurge a little. Get your hat.”
This was NOT like Marie. Normally the conversation would be reversed and Marie would be the one wanting to think it over a few days and I would be saying ‘they may not be here in a few days’ – which has happened a number of times.
So I bought the hat. And I’m glad I did: even after several years of hard wear it is still my favorite hat. I wear it all the time. Marie has asked me not to wear it to church anymore because it has collected a fair coating of sawdust and sweat.
Before we found the fedora I did buy a hat – being as close as I could find to what I wanted, but it’s a homburg: a little more formal. I wear that to church in the winter or in the rain. In fair weather I don’t wear a hat when we go out, unless we will be in the sun a lot. Then my fedora comes along, sawdust and all.
When I was wearing my fedora to church there was an elderly gal who sat in a chair just inside the door greeting people as they came in. She started saying, “Hi Tex.” to me. She knew my name, but thought this was funny. I was tempted to explain that most cowboys wear a Stetson, which is significantly different from a fedora, if you look at them. But the poor dear was old, and I had always been taught to respect my elders, she got a kick out of saying it, and by that time her mind was slipping a bit so an explanation would probably been lost on her anyway. So I simply responded with “Howdy ma’am”, she’d chuckle gleefully and all was well.
Now that I think about it this was, in fact, not my first fedora. I did have one already and had been wearing it around the yard for quite some time. But that one was straw, I bought it at a garage sale for 50 cents, and it was quite a bit too big. But it was great for working outside in the sun. It has since been retired, now that I have a proper mountain man hat.