The Hat

The hat cost $35, more than I had hoped to spend. But this straw Fedora that I found at a stall at The Grove had the advantage of an adjustable interior band, which could be pulled tighter, making it smaller. This feature -- devised by the Chinese manufacturer -- created a hat that would fit my teensy head.

So, I sprung for it. I had been seeking such a hat for weeks. I was worried that my constant baseball cap wearing was thinning my hair. Although a Google search denied baseball caps as the culprits, the fact that I had been wearing them daily against Los Angeles' strong sun, pointed to those canvas covers as guilty parties.

"We all lose some hair as we get older," my daughter, Faith, who has a luscious head of dark brown hair, said.

"But, you can't see it on your head," I said. "With my gray hair, my scalp shows all of the empty places."

I figured that the straw hat, with a weave that allows air to flow through, would not create the heat generated by a baseball cap. Perhaps, my disappearing shoots would magically reappear.

So although the Fedora was purchased as sort of a prescription, I soon found that it was bringing me other benefits: people were stopping me on the street, or calling out from cars with, "Hey, I like your hat!"

With each salute, I'd preen like a beauty queen, which reminded me of my husband Tommy and his Stetson. I can't remember where we bought it, but it's easy for me to recall my late husband's adoration of that hat. Normally, he was a baseball cap kind of guy, and we had upper closet shelves full of imprinted varieties to confirm that. There were dozens hawking colleges, towns, golf courses, and museums.

When we met in 1996, Tommy was already losing his hair. He often told this silly joke: I have wavy hair; it's waving me goodbye. Those in earshot would groan, but that didn't stop him from repeating it whenever he got the chance. And because I found him to be so compatible, so endearing, I'd grin, no matter the number of reruns.

After we married in 1998, and he continued to lose his hair, I urged him to shave it all off. "It's sexy," I would say. What I kept to myself was, Please stop with the comb overs.

Tommy saved his beloved Stetson for evenings out and he would pair it with a leather jacket. This combo pleased him so much, that whenever he'd don this outfit, he'd spend a few minutes sashaying in front of the open hall closet doors.

After Tommy died, and before I left the house we lived in together, I had an estate sale. "Estate" is really a misnomer. The home we shared was a modest three-bedroom, two-story, with a large back yard and front porch. I'm not sure why you need to know that; it's just that I like to resurrect that image whenever I find an opening.

Anyway, now that I've made both of us sad with that picture of lost domesticity, here's another teary tidbit: I included all of my husband's clothing in that sale, including his Stetson. I don't know why I did that; why couldn't I have held on to the Stetson? I have his ashes, his watch, his wedding ring, and his wallet. I could've added the Stetson to the mini-memorial I've set up on my nightstand. But, you're right; maybe it would've been too much.

When I leave the house now, and place my Fedora upon my evidently smaller than normal head, I don't do the cute dance Tommy used to do. But, I do admit to a bit of showing off in front of the round mirror in my entry hall.  I have to do some adjusting before my exit, for although the hat fits width-wise, it is somewhat tall, so I squish it down a bit to look just so.

Of course I wish I could have Tommy on my arm with his Stetson. We'd be an adorable pair; each hat covering up our steady hair loss. But, that's not to be, so I'll wear my straw and tip it to my guy who taught me how to stylishly wear a hat.