By Shag Baker
in Georgia, there is a mandated character education program. What that
means is we try to teach skills that parents should be teaching, but I digress.
Most people think of character as a trait ascribed to other people.
Character can be described as 'sterling' or 'high moral'.
For folks in the South, character goes deeper than that. Case in point,
the ubiquitous hat.
Now, when I say 'hat' I am not talking about the big fancy ones that women folk
wear to church, or the large brimmed cowboy hat of the west, although they
deserve a column to themselves. I refer to the hat most Yankees call a
Very few people I know refer to their hat as a cap, and most folks think of a
cap as the top to your bottle of beer. But when you talk about caps, each
one has character, and each hat can tell a mighty fine story.
The other day, I was in the rather lengthy process of selecting a proper hat to
wear for a day's outing with the family. This activity can take hours,
much akin to women and their shoes.(Interesting side note: while with my mother
one day purchasing another rod/reel combo, we ran into one of her co workers,
who began berating me on why I had to have another rod/reel. "You
have so many already!" she exclaimed. Very calmly, I asked her this
question, "How many pairs of shoes do you own, Ma'am?" She did
not reply. I chalked it up as a definitive victory for the male race, sub
race outdoorsman. You may heap huge amounts of laurels at my feet during
my triumphal parade. Again, I digress.) Anyway, after selecting the
proper hat, my wife commented on my choice thusly: "Why don't you throw
that disgusting thing out or at least wash it?" Making a direct
reference to my work hat, which I wear when I am outside working.
Aghast, I stood dumbfounded, wondering why anyone would want to do such a thing.
I replied to her, after running several other (read: bad) ideas in my mind with
the retort: "I can't. It has too much character."
She rolled her eyes. "It is filthy." she returned.
"Not so!" I said, breaking into my monologue and delaying our
departure. A first for me I may add. "This hat represents many
years of hard labor. I wore this hat through grad school at FSU, worked in
it, took it to Canada! What you may see as filth, I see as a cherished
friend, full of life and character all its own. See how the brim is bent
just so? The wear and tear from the constant readjustments?
The fact of how the adjustable portion on the back is so gone that it fits only
me, and maybe Benjamin, but he understands the sanctity of a character hat.
This hat has character. It is oozing character! Just look at it,
"No." Was her single word reply.
"But, you don't get it. A hat that is worn out, broken in, dirty,
etc. is not filth, it has character in it. Why would you want to get rid
of something with character?" I was on a roll!
She rolled her eyes again. "We are going to be late. Are you
coming or not?" By this point, her arms were akimbo, and the glare was
getting so bad even my hat could not stop it.
"Fine, I will change hats. Gimme a minnet." After about two
minutes, since I was in a hurry, I came back new hat rakishly atop my head.
"Okay, let's go."
We left, and the wife was still mumbling about my work hat.
Copyright Shag Baker 2004
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Funny Columns from Southern Humorists