It’s Monday afternoon. I’m in the garden. My face is slowly getting sunburned, I can feel it. That means soreness and an abundance of new freckles, not good. ‘I need a hat.’ I think.
I never wore a hat when I was younger. Only one person in a group of friends can. It’s an unwritten rule. My best friend Jack was our hat guy. So I was without a hat throughout childhood and adolescence. Jack had several hats. He had one for general use (falling into rivers with me). One for formal occasions. One to sleep in. Possibly one for bath times, although I will never know for sure. The hat was even part of his morning regime. He’d put it on his head and turn it round three times. No need for a comb. You can’t compete with dedication like that. So I let the hat issue lie. I let Jack be the one with the hat.
‘I’m nineteen now.’ I think ‘I need to start branching out.’ I go indoors to my bedroom. After a few minutes searching I stumble upon an old Mighty Ducks cap lurking in the depths of my cupboard. It’s not chance.
It calls out to me “Dunc, get me out of here. It’s time.” I imagine it hanging out in the cupboard for years, humming We Are The Champions, just waiting. I put it on, it feels like a missing part of me has been returned.
“Ever had the sun kept out of your eyes, without using your hand?” It asks.
“No!” I exclaim. I run outside. The sun is blazing, and my eyes are wide open. What a sensation! No heat abusing my milky pigmentation. Life as it was meant to be.
“What else can you do?” I ask.
“Well you can turn me backwards and poke some of your fringe through my behind.” The hat replies.
‘That sounds a little sordid’ I think, “OK.” I say, and do it.
For the second time in my life I feel cool. The first was when I dressed up as a new age cowboy at my girlfriend’s Murder Mystery party. I wore a bowler hat and a vest. It lasted until her older brother and his friends arrived when I swiftly discovered Le Coq Sportif and trousers tucked into socks were cool, not plastic guns.
“You like what I‘ve shown you so far?” The hat says.
“Yes!” I say.
“There’s something I’ve been meaning to ask you.” It says, “Would you do something for me?”
“Yes. Of course!” I say. After all it’s opened my eyes to so many new things.
“Tilt me up really high and wear me on the back of your head.” It says.
I stand still, “But then I won’t look cool and the sun will be in my eyes.” I say.
“You owe me.” It replies.
I do as it says. I tilt the hat up and put it on the back of my head. It lets out an excited squeak, then goes quiet.
“How’s that?” I ask.
“Pe-Perfect.” Its voice sounds throaty and out of breath.
“Are you alright?” I ask.
“Yeeeah. Oh Yeah.” It groans.
“What’s going on?” I say, starting to worry.
“Yeah that’s the spot.” It says and then shudders.
“I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.” I say.
“Come on Duncy Babes, tilt me back farther!” It shouts.
“You’ll fall!” I shout back.
“I can hang on. Do it. Now!” It starts grunting.
“No!” I scream, “I won’t be part of this!.” I grab it by the peak. It lets out a cry of agony, or pleasure, I can‘t tell. There’s a snap. The hat falls to the ground.
‘It’s not moving, that can’t be good.’ I think. It’s just playing.
“Come on get up. It’s not funny anymore.” I say. Nothing.
* * *
It’s three weeks since the incident. I’m thankful the case didn’t make it into court. I appealed, declared my actions an act of love, which is technically true. Even if the love wasn’t reciprocal on my part.
It wasn’t all in vain. I learned a lesson that day; you can never trust a hat. People out there with less resistant minds could fall prey to their hats’ will at any time. Imagine the monstrous things the hats would have them do: kicking car doors, smoking weed, stealing beer, shouting obscenities, spitting. The list is endless. It could – God forbid – make them wear matching tracksuit bottoms and tops.
If you see someone displaying any of these symptoms it’s probably best not to approach them, and remember one thing: it‘s not their fault, it‘s their hats.