Hat in Hand at the Hatter's
By ice rivers
With visual vocabulary firmly in place and with destiny drawing closer to revelation, I made an appointment to meet the Master Hatter.
Lynn and I went to lunch before the appointment and our conversation dangled a few minutes past the appointed time to meet the Hatter.
We arrived late and were informed in no uncertain terms that we would have to wait because the Hatter "is a busy man".
Or we could just leave.
We waited an hour in his tiny vestibule while people came and went, collecting their laundry.
Eventually, the Hatter made his way to the counter of the dry cleaning establishment that serves as a front for his creativity. He makes his hats in the back. The dry cleaning joint is the cottage for his industry.
It became crystal clear immediately that when you talk to a clear eyed man like the Hatter about hats, you better know what the hell you're talking about and if you don't have the coin or the courage to purchase the hat that you better know what you're talking about well then, he knows that you know that he knows that you're just wasting his time as well as your own, only his time is more valuable than yours because he knows what he's doing and you don't know what the hell you're doing.
I told him I was in the market for a hat. I told him about the Doc Zilla hat; how I had come to own it and lose it. He seemed interested or at least interested enough to ask the essential question.
"So, what kind of hat are you looking for?"
I knew the answer, sort of.
I told him I had just seen "The Aviator" and the hat in that movie was exactly the hat that I had lost and wanted to regain. I asked him if he had ever seen The Aviator.
As soon as I asked him that question, something in his demeanor changed. Up to the Aviator question he had been more business like than friendly, more challenging than engaging. He was sizing me up. As a hat maker, size definitely mattered.
At that point, he invited us to step out of the vestibule, past the counter, past the racks and racks and racks of other people's clothing. The Hatter invited us into the backroom where he interviewed serious hat seekers.
We had passed the entrance exam.
As we made our way to the inner sanctum, we passed a stool upon which was a beauty of a hat.
"Now, that's a hat", I said in passing.
"That's MY Hat" replied the Master Hatter.
I still lack the chapeau vocab to describe that hat on the stool but suffice it to say that a hat made by a master hat maker for his own dome is indeed a joy to behold. The Hatter picked up on my joy regarding his hat which made the dozen steps into his back room much less threatening.
I knew the Hat makers name but he didn't know mine. Many more people seek the Hat Master than are sought by him. I had told him my name when I called to make the appointment. I told him my name again when we met at the counter. When we got to the backroom, he told me something I already knew and asked me something that I had already told him.
"My name is Brown" said the Hat Maker, what's yours?"
After he said Brown, I resisted the urge to say "if you tell me again, I'm gonna knock ya down".
"They call me Ice" I said.
Brown resisted the urge to say "that's cool".
We shook hands.
"Now, tell me again. What kind of hat do you have in mind?"
"Did you see The Aviator?", I replied again.
"Oh yeah" said Brown.
Once again, I felt more at ease, more connected. Movies are readily available cultural metaphors. Whenever we share metaphor we share a bit of truth.
"Leonardo DiCaprio was wearing my hat in that movie. Do you remember that hat? That hat is my hat or should I say that hat was Doc Zilla's. THAT is Exactly the hat I'm looking for.
"Exactly THAT hat?" Brown asked
"Exactly", I asserted.
Brown said " Look at the top of that hat rack. Do you see that hat? That is exactly the hat in the Aviator. Reach up and get it. Take a look for yourself".
I followed his directions. I pilled the hat down and took a close look.
"It looks like the Aviator hat" I estimated.
"I've got news for you Ice. Not only does it look a lot like the hat DiCaprio wore in the movie. It IS the hat he wore. I made that hat for the movie and you've got that hat right in your hands."
"THIS is the hat that Leo wore in the movie? What's it doing here?"
"Often when I make hats for movies, they send the hats back to me. I hold on to the hats and keeps them safe in case the film makers have to reshoot a scene and they don't want to screw up the continuity. That's the actual hat I made for Martin Scorcese to use in the Aviator to go on the head of Howard Hughes as played by Leonardo DiCaprio.
"Leo wore this hat," I asked incredulously.
"That EXACT hat" said Brown.
I tried on the hat.