Friday, July 9, 2010

Under Our Hats


From Songs and Letters, dated July 21, 2008:

If you pass by my window now and glance this way, you’ll see the top of the new straw hat I’m wearing. Why am I wearing it inside? Because it is new, and because hats should be worn. Because I’m nuts. Because every now and then I like to write with a hat on. Because I like hats. Because I’m partial to them. Because they remind me of other hats — my father’s, his father’s, my uncles’, my grandmother’s. Walt Whitman’s.

This particular hat cost seven dollars. About forty years ago, my father bought me one very much like it for eighty-nine cents at a little corner grocery store not far from where we lived. The store was owned by a man named Nakashima, whose wife once cut off the end of her finger while slicing baloney. I say once, but she could hardly have done it twice.

Ours was a farming community. The weather was hot. Hats were important and easy to come by. We lived under our hats. We dreamed under them, cursed under them, talked under them, planned under them, hurt under them, hoped under them, sighed under them, dozed under them, decided under them, quit under them, started under them, apologized under them, begged under them, lied under them, cheated under them, kissed our wives and girlfriends and children under them, disappointed each other under them, left home and never returned under them, listened to the birds in the trees under them, yelled under them, cried under them, got drunk under them, confessed under them, lost our minds under them, and some of us even died under them.

We also waited under them. We waited for trains, for buses, for airplanes, for loved ones, for insight, for babies alive and growing in the womb. We waited for the noon whistle and the Raisin Day Parade. We waited for rain, for wind, for any meaningful new sign. We waited for our pay. We waited for the war to end. We waited for things to change, but some never did.

We knocked on doors under them. Won’t you let me in?

A hat is a church, my friend.


Update:
In the Forum: a case of orange madness.

15 comments:

all ways 11 o'clock said...

William - This is beautiful-the gathering under hats, a community.
A real sense of warmth in this one.

~robert

Anthony Duce said...

I enjoyed this, even though I rarely wear a hat. I'm a little concerned I missed a little of the life those of you with hats have experienced. I'll have to try painting with a hat. Who knows what might appear.

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Robert. I like to think the sky is the greatest hat of all, and that we’re all peeking out from under its brim....

Anthony, I highly recommend it. Unstable as I am, I might be more susceptible to personality change due to hats than others, but I’m sure it will change your perspective, at least somewhat. Remember, if someone looks at you and smiles and shakes his head, that’s a good sign.

Janice said...

William this is terrific!!! I guess I've never thought of how much goes on under a hat!!! I will never look at hats as just a head ornament again :)

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Janice! Indeed, we should look at heads as hat ornaments....

vazambam said...

William,

Excuse me but
After reading this,

I'm afraid I have to
Take off my hat.

William Michaelian said...

Vassilis,

On the bright side,
this proves you’re not
a shady character.

nouvelles couleurs - vienna atelier said...

huts... is so true what you write William, I have enijoed so much this post, I read it so willingly and I'm now thinking about on all the lived experience under the huts... are many, my father has a especially love for huts too and I love to see him under the hut

beautifull this post

William Michaelian said...

Your father loves hats too, Laura? I like him even more now..... Thank you.

Nazia Mallick said...

Hmmmm... men in hat- mysterious, sexy, charming, adventurous, rebellious,subtle, sentimental, stylish. Humphrey Bogart in 'Casablanca'-Romantic.
The smile, the gaze from under the hat-
It's a pity Indian men don't wear hats. Maybe that is why I don't like them..ha..ha.

Great post,William. Loved the old wordish, nostalgic feel of it.

William Michaelian said...

Thanks, Nazia. The truth is, I think I’m more wordy when I have a hat on. But I’ll have to conduct a study to be sure. Maybe I should do it in India....

isabelle said...

Oh William, what a wonderful tale. I love how you paint so much in a short time. It made me smile. Thank you.

William Michaelian said...

And I thank you, Isabelle. For me, a smile is an inspiring response.

Woman in a Window said...

But you don't make me smile. You make me cry. It is a kinda soil in the hands kinda cry. Both a celebration and that sound that doesn't sound like it is from a human body at all.

I do believe you should be universally read. I think a vein has gone missing from the surface of the earth and it somehow runs through you.

xo
erin

William Michaelian said...

Soil in the hands — I know that sound. Erin, you amaze me.