Eulogy for a Fedora
What can I say about my hat? I've had it for 7 years. I purchased this one in high school, my Senior year. I was in Florida for the week, playing in an orchestra. We played at Disney World once. The rest of that day, we had free.
I found my prize sitting in Morocco, in a small souvenir stand. It was an Indiana Jones fedora.
You must understand, Indy is my hero. He's the perfect hero for any kid: a greedy, dishonest, lady killer whose sense of right and wrong is always contrary to his personal nature. How can you go wrong with that?
Let me relate some of my adventures with this hat:
Over the past 7 years, it's seen everything in me. It's seen the kid who won't grow up, the adult who knows when to compromise, and the budding priest who has had more adventures than he cares to admit.
There's something childlike about a man who can put on a hat and change his entire persona. A hat as mystical and wonderful as an old brown fedora is difficult to find. You might point to the tarnhelm of the Ring saga, or the mind-control contraptions of 1950's science fiction. None of these compare to that old fedora.
This fedora gave me license to unlock an area no teenager can open: that of self-assurance, humour, and determination. It's like suddenly realizing that yes, this world was made for you, and yes, you were meant to take it.
The attitude switch was highly noticeable. I was able to land my first serious girlfriend by trying. My previous attempts had been more like falling into pits. My grades even improved, and my ego began to inflate a bit.
The hat also helped me realized that there were things I couldn't have. You know, things that no man was meant to see or discover. This feeling helped balance out a growing ego, preventing me from over-inflating. I was able to accept that sometimes I couldn't have everything, but there was always a way to get a piece of what I wanted.
The hat also accompanied me into the woods, taking long hikes with me when I went to College. When I first hiked on the Appalachian Trail, my fedora was firmly pulled on. When I experienced real ritual, it was doffed in respect. When I approached my ancestors atop a stormy mountain, it was this hat that let me see what I was doing.
Retirement for this hat isn't easy. It's like putting an old friend to bed for the last time. It's painful and frightening. I already find myself worrying about the fit of this new hat, whether it will rest on my ears or sit high on my head. I feel a bit of betrayal.
But then I think about my very first fedora, and I remember that I had the same feelings then that I have now. I grew out of that fedora in early high school. At the time, I couldn't let it go, and I nearly cried when I gave it to my brother, who could almost wear it.
Perhaps soon, I'll give my old fedora to someone new. It's still in decent condition, just crushed one too many times, faded an olive green, and somewhat mal-formed. But it's still my hat.
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