Saturday, May 30, 2009

Hat by Paul Hoppe - review

Hat by Paul Hoppe
This spring, I bought a hat. My husband, who suffers in the sun, had bought a broad-brimmed khaki hat a few years ago, spent actual money on it (rather than getting it free from a vendor or a TV station), which I considered a waste, because this man is a man who will misplace anything not permanently attached to his body, and at least one thing that is, if I have anything to say about that one mole on his hip. But his devotion to his hat is phenomenal, and he has only lost it once.

I have eyed that hat appraisingly for years now. The hat keeps the rain off, shields one from both glare and UV rays, keeps the head cool, and floats, much like the hat in Hat (and you knew we'd come around to the book at some point didn't you?). But my husband's hat does not belong to me, as the hat in Hat does not belong to young Henry, who spies it left behind on a park bench. So Henry - and I - are left to fantasize about the ways our lives would be improved were we to be the owners of the hat.

The marketing drivel that accompanies my husband's hat verges on mystique. The Peterman-esque "owner's manual" implies that wearing this hat will lead to everything from boat ownership to exciting encounters with members of the opposite sex. It says, "Interesting things happen to you when you're wearing a ______ hat." Luckily, the hat in Hat does not tootle its own horn so brashly. Luckily, Henry in Hat can dream up exciting encounters with tropical beasts all on his own.

In the end, I bought my own _______ hat, despite the obnoxious marketing. It stays on when you're flying a large kite in strong wind, what can I say. The other day, some old British dude in line behind me called out, "Be careful, young lady! 'Interesting things happen to you when you're wearing a ______ hat!'" What I called back to him was, "Don't I know it! I'm buying a caulk gun at Home Depot in the rain, how much more interesting could it get?!" but what I thought was, "Bite me, British guy - interesting things happen to me no matter what hat I'm wearing!"

And in the end of Hat, Henry is persuaded by his mom to leave the hat on the bench, in case its owner should return, frantic at the loss of his or her perfect hat. I like to think that Henry's mom knows that, with an imagination like his, interesting things will happen to Henry no matter what hat he's wearing.

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