Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Hat Trick

O.K., so anyone who knows me well knows about my long standing love affair with my second home. Southampton College, by and large, is responsible for me being the man I am today (the good parts, not the bitter, broken man working for the bank has made me). During my coaching days, I was given a truckload of free clothes as part of the uniform, many items of which I still wear proudly to this day.

The one thing Southampton College Athletics ever failed to provide me with was a hat that didn't look like something made in the back room of a t-shirt shop by some minimum wage slug with cheetos dust permanently caked under his fingernails. The one hat they did give me was one of those adjustable ones with the buckle and strap. Not even a snap adjuster. This was more like the type of hat a weekend tourist might buy whilst shopping the better stores in town. It was not an athlete's hat.

Unacceptable. As my head is rather large, I have a hard time finding fitted caps that fit. I had long detested the adjustable snap caps, and I liked the buckle adjustables even less. I made it my mission to find a hat that was not only comfortable, but was something I could wear while coaching and not have it appear out of place.

Walking into Lids in Smithaven Mall was like climbing down into the Well of Souls to find the Ark of the Covenant. Or, more accurately, it was like going into that room with all the Holy Grails scattered about. There were hundreds of hats, but none of them looked fit, and none of them were proper for my team needs.

Then I found it.

Penn State's simple S logo could easily be a stand-in for the lack of a proper Southampton logo. The color was a PERFECT match for our school colors, Blue and White (it was missing the Yellow, but I wasn't complaining). It was a Flex-fit™, which, for the uninitiated, means it had an elastic band in the edge. It could STRETCH! Perfect for my oversized noggin. It was relatively cheap, although I would have paid a bundle for it.

That hat has been in my possession for the better part of a decade. It was stretched just right to fit. I wore it not only while coaching, but also while playing. I bought the hat washing frame to keep it in shape. I wore it everywhere it was appropriate, and a few places it wasn't. I even slept in it a couple of times (well, passed out, more appropriately). That hat accompanied me overseas! It has seen more countries than many of my relatives!

It is not in the best of shape. It is permanently stained from all the sweat it has strained through it over the years. It has a tiny frayed spot on the right side of the brim from me taking it off and putting it on so many times, as well as tugging on the brim to adjust it during games. It has a dark smear under the brim that for the life of me I have no idea what it is, it may be pine tar, it may be tobacco, it may be a beetle, and it won't ever come out. But GODS how I love that hat.

Did I mention I was fond of the hat?

It has been missing for weeks. I have been despondent. I have been forced to wear my not quite right fitting red MD hat (Mudd Devils, my former team). I have torn my entire room and jeep apart looking for it. I have searched the entire house. Nothing.

Until today.

It was sitting on the floor, next to the couch, between the couch and the fax machine desk, on top of an old glass chess board. It looked as if it had been sitting there in plain sight the whole time. Which isn't possible, considering that I have looked everywhere for it.

I think it is more likely that whomever took the hat (at this point, I've narrowed the suspects down to the President of BP, the North Koreans, or Benito Mussolini) crept in the house while I slept and slid it down along side the couch. Or a dimensional vortex had opened up and sucked my hat in, and the subsequent return vortex redeposited it weeks later once the alien scientists on the other end were done studying it. Or it became detached from the time stream, and reappeared just this morning.

All that matters is, I have my baby back.

Rejoice, world!