Leo's Weird.....The Hatter's Tale
By ice rivers
The hat was too big.
"Whoa, Leo's got a big head" I observed.
"Why don't you try Richard Gere's hat from Chicago. That one's on the back behind Leo's hat"
I pulled down the Chicago hat and tried it on for size. Gere's hat was too small.
" I think you're closer to Leo than to Richard, Ice. Gere wears a seven and a quarter. Leo wears a seven and five eighths. Figure you're about the size of George Clooney. I'm working on his hat right now"
When Lynn and I were waiting in his vestibule, Brown had been making a hat for George Clooney.
"George is a seven and a half" said the Hatter. "It's better to have a fit that's a little loose rather than a little tight. We call that 'headroom'.
Brown took out his measuring tape and wrapped it around my dome.
"Seven and a half, Ice. Same size as George."
I had my size. I had my style. Not bad for a guy coming in with zero hat vocabulary. Still, as I looked at the Aviator hat, something was wrong.
It was the hat band. The Doc Zilla brand was a darker brown.
Hatter grabbed a darker brown band, a 'chocolate' brown and wrapped it around the Aviator hat that I had on my head.
Thanks to Jack Daniels, I couldn't remember the last time I saw the Doc Zilla hat. I could remember a picture someone had taken of me the last time I wore the hat when I was trying to save the ozone and preserve the integrity of art with profanity while insulting everyone around me in a dazzling triple play of boorishness.
Not a pretty picture, except for the hat.
The picture was in black and white. I recalled a differentiation in the tone of black between the hat and the hatband. The hatband was definitely darker as was the one that Paul wrapped around the exact Avaitor hat. Still uncertain, I asked for a second and third opinion.
Both Lynn and Brown agreed that the combination looked great but the final decision was mine. I decided I would go for MY hat which was Doc Zilla's hat which because of the darker hat band wasn't EXACTLY Leonardo's hat which wasn't actually Leonardo's hat anyways but Howard Hughes's hat as played by Leo as envisioned by Martin Scorcese and his wardrobe director.
I am my own wardrobe director and I sure as hell am not Leonardo DiCaprio nor Howard Hughes nor Matin Scorcese.
As if reading my mind, Brown said "Leo's surprisingly tall"
"Do you know Leo?" I asked
"I fitted him for that hat you got on your head. I'll tell you something else, Leo's weird."
"Whaddya mean Leo's weird", I wanted an answer because I didn't want to believe that Leo was weird. Considering Brown was running his hat business out of a dry cleaning store, I thought maybe it was the Hatter who was mad. That's been known to happen.
"Let me tell you about his fitting", Brown began.
"First of all, Alec Baldwin didn't like the hat that I made for him. I had to calm Baldwin down by explaining that the hat was authentic to the year and to his character as well as the fact that the hat had been made to the exact specifications sent by the wardrobe director and approved by Marty himself.
"Baldwin finally calmed down and headed back to his trailer, hat in hand. Without Baldwin around, the atmosphere grew less tense and more expectant. Everybody knew that Leo was next on the schedule which was a big deal all the way around.
Right on schedule, the door opens and in walks Leo. A silent, barely visible swoon filled the room. Leo's a lanky guy, surprisingly tall as I said before and very thin. He introduced himself as Leo. I introduced myself as Dave. We shook hands. I pulled the hat out of the box. This is when Leo got weird.
I stepped forward to put the hat on his head. Leo stepped backwards, spooked, and he disturbed the air between us with a double open palm, ten finger pushback. The signal was clear. 'don't touch me, man and get that hat away from me'.
"Feeling like I had caught the plague after stepping in a pile of dogshit, I took a few steps back", Dave recalled.
"With that, Leo turned his back on me and walked across the room to the full length mirror. He stood in front of the mirror, studying his reflection for what seemed like an hour but was probably five minutes. The room was completely quiet. After about forty five minutes or maybe four, I whispered to the wardrobe assistant on my left. 'What the hell is he doing?'
"She whispered back, 'I think he's getting into character'.
"A minute or fifteen later, Leo turned away from the mirror and headed over in my direction. The guy coming over to me, however, was no longer the guy who had turned his back on me 300 seconds earlier. The guy coming towards me was Howard Hughes. Leo was gone and Howard Hughes was ready to be reunited with his hat.
I put the hat on Howard's head. The fit was perfect as I knew it would be. The studio had sent me the exact measurement of Leo's head as a reference. With his hat on his head, the reincarnated ghost of Howard Hughes walked back to the mirror. He tilted his head from the left to the right. He pulled the back of the hat down, which made the fron of the hat tip up slightlt. He nodded in approval.
Howard Hughes turned away from the mirror and paused for just a moment. In that moment, Leo took Howard's hat off his head. He walked towards me, hat in hand. He was a different man from the man on whose head I had placed the hat a minute ago. In the space of about ten minutes, this guy had become two entirely different people.
Leo/Howard looked at me and said ' that's exactly the hat, Dave'.
We shook hands again. I'm pretty sure I was shaking with Leo and not Howard because the handshake was strong and Howard Hughes wasn't known for the strength of his handshake.
I went with Leo and thanked him for the compliment. Apparently I had the right guy as I called him 'Leo'. He after all had called me 'Dave'.
I guess it was right because he went on his way and as he left, the swoon in the fitting became more visible as did the relief.
That's what I mean when I say 'weird'. I've met a lot of actors but I'd never seen anybody do that or have that effect. Baldwin,the actor, didn't think his hat looked good on him. DiCaprio had no concern how the hat would look on him because it wasn't his hat anyways. The hat belonged to the character of Howard Hughes. Before Leo could evaluate the hat, he had to see the hat through the eyes of the character.
Like I said, concluded the Hatter. Leo's weird."
By the time the Master Hatter had finished his Hollywood tale and the weirdness of Leo, I had already decided that I wanted the hat.
But there were complications.