Sunday, August 10, 2008

You Can Leave Your Hat On.... Randy Newman

Anyone who remembers the movie Nine and a Half Weeks will have one recollection of that line, but...get your mind out of the gutter! This blog is really about hats. Long ones, tall ones, short ones...crazy Eric Burdon might say (I guess I'm in a musical mood.) What is it about hats? Who wears them and why? Is it a genetic predisposition like blue eyes or lefthandedness? And what's the difference between those of us who buy hats and those of us who actually wear them?
Maybe I'm inspired by the wonderfully inventive Cha-Poe created by Liz Zelvin for last spring's Malice hat contest. (She won, of course!)

Or our recent pic of Jan in her saucy Norma Shearer-like wedding chapeau.
Or maybe it was my dentist. I may have the coolest dentist on the planet. Not only does she keep my pearly whites, um, pearly, but she is a photographer, a diver, and an adventuress. She's been everywhere, keeps exotic pets and everything in her apartment is from some far flung destination. If this was the thirties, she'd be Jean Harlow singing for her supper on a Chinese junk and engaging in drinking contests with Mongolian warlords. And the winner would get the big furry hat. Because she also has a worldclass hat collection.

This is one she just gave me -

btw...Caroline if you're reading this the butterfly fell off..I didn't take it off! After a few glasses of wine we agreed it looked fabulous. (I thought it was Italian movie star from the 50's ...she thought Lara in Dr. Zhivago. In my dreams...) But will I ever leave the house with this thing on my head? Or will it stay in the box like the $600 Tracey Tooker number that I bought for a wedding and wore only once because I felt like I couldn't move my head all afternoon?

ROBERTA: I'm also in the camp that buys hats and very seldom wears them--except for baseball caps for the sun. Reason why? I look at pix taken after the fact and I look darned silly. Take for instance the straw boater that I bought after much agonizing and wore to my first-ever member-guest golf tournament with my mother-in-law as my guest. The picture is priceless because it marked the beginning of our relationship, but that hat perched on my head like a dying possum. My tennis friends made fun of me for years for wearing a white cap with a big sunflower in front. When the flower fell off, I still wore it with the glob of glue that used to hold it. I did find success with a headdress I created for a toga party during grad school days--it had fake ivy and large plastic dangling fruit. That one was a winner!

RO: We want pix!!

JAN: This is the deal with hats: They are a commitment. You put one on, it flattens the hair underneath, and you are stuck wearing it the entire day or until the next hair wash and dry.
The only time I actually wear hats is when I'm playing tennis in the sun, when I'm on the Vineyard and waiting until AFTER the beach to wash my hair, and on really bad hair days.
My cousin has a terrific boutique in New Jersey. I've bought any number of hats there. Really cool Eric Javits hats.
But after purchase, I generally don't wear them. Why? This is the first time I've really thought about it, but it's probably because cool hats call a lot of attention to themselves. And they tend to be just the tinest bit pretentious-looking when you wear them on your way to, say, the supermarket.

RO: Is that why people were looking at me when I was at the deli counter with this thing on?

HALLIE: Like Jan, I love principle. But the fact that I had nothing to put on my head at my own wedding (I'd forgotten about it) tells you something. I have an old battered straw hat and some baseball caps but they're just to keep the sun out of my face.
One of my favorite books of all time is "The Five Hundred Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins" in which our hero, when commanded to take off his hat by the King, tries to comply, but another hat even more glorious than the last appears in its place.

HANK: Hats. Bikinis. Not a chance. Up in my off-season closet there's a beauty. A straw sun hat, with a lovely Libery of London fabric band. The front flips up, the back goes down. I wore it in 1972 to my sister's wedding. It still looks good, but the moment I clamped it on my head, as Jan so correctly says, that was it for the hair. (Even when it was long and brown, which it was at the time.) What more, turns out my head is huge. There was the time I was doing an investigative report on fish inspection. Or--how they're not inspected. One day, we were allowed to shoot inside a fish processing plant down by the water front. Pungent, and waterlogged, and fish guts all over. And they demanded we wear hats. Paper baseball caps, you know? Health rules. So they tried to find one that would fit me, and even the largest was too small. Apparently the health rules don't care about fit, so they parked one, precariously, on my head, and called it a hat. I called it ridiculous. The good news: we won a big award for the story. The bad news: guess what they showed in the video clip at the awards ceremony?

RO: What's on your head?


  1. Hats do make one so conspicuous, but they're so fun to wear. I wore a lovely mauve felt hat to church years ago and an elderly lady said, "Now, that's a go-to-hell hat!" What could she have meant? I always assumed it was a good thing....

    Alas, like Hank, my head is overly-large and I can rarely find hats that fit. But Hank--you're in television and it's been proven that Hollywood stars have unusually large heads. You're so in the right career! Julia Roberts's head is like two feet wide...Mine just blocks the television. :(

  2. Oh RO!

    I love that hat. That photo is priceless!

  3. Yes Ro, you should wear that furry thing everywhere! and I too loved Bartholomew Cubbins. Brilliant story. Laura, a go-to-hell hat definitely sounds like a good thing!

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  5. Ooo, that sounds like a great book, Hallie.