With the fall weather I'm walking to work less often, and being on crowded sweaty subways I find I take my hat off often enough to let the steam out that sometimes I don't even wear a hat in the first place. Last week a kindly old feller who takes the same bus I do some mornings approached me on the street and asked me where my hat was.
I told him I didn't wear it today, which was probably already obvious enough and he said, "Yeah, well, I just got a hat and I'm going to wear it tomorrow, so I want you to wear your hat."
I'm not much of a team dresser. I don't like uniforms and I don't like anyone telling me what to wear, especially if it's because they want me to match. So I said, yeah, okay, and then the next day I skipped work for altogether different reasons.
I did get to see his hat though. I saw it this morning. He came trucking up to the bus stop just as proud as you may please in his khakis and sensible shoes and his light blue windbraker and his brand new Tilley Hat. Yes, it was a Tilley, a sloppy, flapping, canvas Tilley, and he tipped it at everyone at the stop and gave me an extra special tipping that was part doff and part flap.
I think Tilley hats are ugly. I think they're uglier than baseball caps. I think they look like the canvas buckets we used to pull smelly water out of wells when I was in Africa. But he's quite pleased with it, so what can I do.
I saw him again and he followed me home talking all the way. I stopped at the gorcery store just make sure he didn't actually follow me to my house, because I was afraid I'd come out my door tomorrow morning and see him there in his little tiny walking shoes, dofflapping his Tilley at me.
(I hope he isn't reading this. I'd feel like a real heel.)