Head Gear

I like hats. More preferably, caps. Unbeknownst to a lot of people, there is a difference. A hat, has a brim all the way around it, and a cap has a brim only in the front or none at all. I’ve worn caps my entire life but began seriously wearing them when I started losing my hair. Now you may think this was a vanity decision but you’d be wrong. I’m not in the least, a vain person. I’ve never cared much about losing my hair. In fact, when my wife’s chemo caused her hair to start falling out I willingly shaved my head to match hers. The decision to wear caps full time was utilitarian. They keep my head warm. More importantly, they keep my head from being sun burnt. I’m of Northwestern European decent and have the pale pinkish skin to prove it. I can get sunburned just by thinking about it. So I rarely go out without a cap on my head.

I also have a penchant for obscure things so I looked up the history of hats today and strange enough, there is one. Hats go back a long way. The 27-30,000 year old Venus of Willendorf figurine show a woman wearing a woven cap.

According to Wikipedia “One of the first pictorial depictions of a hat appears in a tomb painting from Thebes, Egypt, which shows a man wearing a conical straw hat, dated to around 3200 BC.” That’s definitely back a few years. And again from Wikipedia, “One of the earliest known confirmed hats was worn by a bronze age man (nicknamed Ötzi) whose body (including his hat) was found frozen in a mountain between Austria and Italy, where he’d been since around 3250 BC. He was found wearing a bearskin cap with a chin strap, made of several hides stitched together, essentially resembling a Russian fur hat without the flaps.”

Lots of literary references to hats and caps can be found of course but my favorite is from J.R.R. Tolkien’s, The Lord Of The Rings where the author describes one of the characters: “Presently Sam appeared, trotting quickly and breathing hard; his heavy pack was hoisted high on his shoulders, and he had put on his head a tall shapeless felt bag, which he called a hat. In the gloom he looked very much like a dwarf.”

“Which he called a hat.” I love that line. It pretty much says that you can put anything on your head, and call it a hat. My hats and caps are pretty conventional compared to that.

As I said, I wear caps to keep the sun and cold off my head because I just don’t have enough hair to do the job anymore. Although I have a lot of them and they’re quite varied in style, they have never, for me at least, been a fashion accessory. There’s nothing much fashionable about a baseball cap or a crocheted winter cap. Top hats and Bowlers have historically been fashion accessories for men and women of Britain wear some really wild ones.

You may have heard the expression, “Mad as a hatter.” It comes from 18th and 19th century England where hat makers, (milliners) used Mercury in the making of felt which was used for Bowlers and Top Hats. Prolonged exposure to Mercury produces symptoms mimicking insanity or madness so if you were mad as a hatter you were thought quite crazy. I don’t think any of my caps will make me crazy, so that’s a good thing. And finally, maybe this seems elementary to me but I’ve never thought one would need instructions for wearing a cap. However, this last photo proves me wrong. A tip of the hat to this guy for making it famous on the internet for all the wrong reasons.

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