A man of many hats

Published 9:49 pm Thursday, April 9, 2009

It’s finally happened. Someone told me the other day that he almost didn’t recognize me without my hat.

Considering the photo that runs with this column each week, it was bound to turn out that folks began to identify me as the guy with the cowboy hat. The thing is, it’s not a cowboy hat. It’s a genuine, honest-to-God Indiana Jones hat, bought outside the Indiana Jones attraction at Disney’s Hollywood Studios.

When I put that hat on in the morning, I’m ready to face just about any frightening or threatening situation. I can almost hear the music playing as I walk out the door in the morning with my whip — err, my briefcase — in hand. Knife-wielding thugs? No worries. Pistol-packin’ Nazis? Under control. An ad salesperson who can’t get coverage of a client’s event? Well, not even a great hat can provide complete protection against every frightening encounter.

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Hats have long been a thing for me. By the time I had entered high school, I had long since discovered the change in personality that a good hat can bring. Baseball caps are too ubiquitous to really have that effect, of course. But wear a cowboy hat for a while, or a leather driving cap — or even a Greek fisherman’s cap — and you’ll find that you begin to walk just a little differently. Pretty soon, your whole outlook will be subtly changed.

Put on an Indiana Jones hat, and it’s hard not to feel like an adventurer. A nice, felt Stetson is sure to inspire an urge to head west for the Great Plains — or at least to sing country music. A skullcap is the perfect headwarmer to wear when you’re feeling just a little anti-social.

I’ve worn them all, along with an embarrassingly large collection of wizard hats, Dr. Seuss hats and other silly toppers bought with the idea that I’d be the life of some party or other. (The hats were; me — not so much.) There was a time several years ago, when — looking through a closet full of old things — I found the hat and boots from my Urban Cowboy phase and made my family swear to put me out of my misery if it ever happened again.

The Indiana Jones hat may be a little too close for comfort, but at least I don’t have the boots this time. Today, it’s still a little about the style, but it’s also about covering up a bald head that needs protection from the cold and — as I remembered after a day at Busch Gardens without a hat last weekend — the sun. Still, though, I have to admit that there’s something to be said for having my own soundtrack, even if it is one that I’ve borrowed from Hollywood.