Welcome to the hat

rapt audience

Hello, and welcome to your hat. Is this your first visit? You will find your hat on your head. If not, please start again.

Are you ready? Welcome to your hat. It's a terrible hat. No one will ever compliment you on it, at least not sincerely, and as your friends pause and focus on your hat, you will see the flummoxed look in their eyes and the frustrated blush creep across their cheeks as they attempt to work out just what to say about that awful hat you're wearing. "You're protected against the sun!" they'll finally chirp, and this will become your rationale and your mantra. "Keeps the sun off the old noggin," you'll say years later, leaning over the Formica counter top as you help yourself to a cold sweating bottle of Dr. Pepper.

Your friends will nod in silence. They no longer remember a time when you didn't wear the hat, and in all of their memories of you, even the mildewed fragments of childhood days, the hat is there. It has become welded to you. Even when you remove it at night, with the lights off so you don't catch sight of your hatless head in a mirror or window, you can feel the groove in your scalp. You trace the indented loop with your middle finger as you edge closer to sleep. No one can love me without my hat, you think. But that's the hat talking.