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Make sure the hat fits

7:50:00 AM DC Daddy's Wine Time 1 Comments Category : , , , , , , ,

What’s in a hat? Or, in any article of clothing for that matter? Do they really have any meaning beyond their objective purpose to shield our faces from the sun or cover our nakedness (thanks for that Eve and Adam)? 

Sure clothing conveys meaning in our various social circles, our jobs, our images, maybe as a political or philosophical statement, a means of distinguishing tribes, or even status. Yet, all these, regardless of the power
we give clothing, are social constructs. A suit has no more actual objective power to make you professional than a beard makes you a bum.

Still, What temporary objective meaning resides in an article of clothing, especially a hat? If you’ve ever been accosted on the street, or done the accosting yourself, after sighting your team’s logo, then I reckon you understand that a hat is not just a hat. It’s that moment when you and a total stranger meet in spontaneous conversation, at the intersection of Fighting Irish and Paraphernalia. It can certainly help at Soldier Field when a Bears fan spots you at the back of a long line for the bathroom and lets you cut ahead of 30 Jets fans.

Ah, humanity… Sometimes we're really connected.

But, what happens if you’re a poser in the guise of a fan? Should we assume that just because someone wears the colors of the team, they are in fact a member of the tribe? The accoster could be accused of having made a brash assumption about someone, even if most of the time, no one’s the wiser. To be fair, we’re a busy species and within in urban environments, there isn’t enough time to shoot the proverbial shit about a mutually shared article of clothing. A shout-out will do, a simple acknowledgement as you pass on by. A poser can eek by with a “knowing” nod or a holler back. Mutual days are better for it. Move on, move on.

So, can this innocent posing get you in trouble? Of course it can, and by now, you know where this is going, don’t you?

I have a confession to make. I am one of those posers.

Since my early twenties, I’ve fibbed my way through these brief but meaningful interactions, deceiving well-meaning strangers and family members from the various sports tribes. Mostly without incident (except for that time I was called out by a relative at a party- pretty awkward)… I don't pose out of malice or disrespect, I do it to belong; I just don't want to do the actual work real fans do to belong (can't I just be a "seasonal" fan?)

Hell, I almost posed this morning.

Who am I to deny the “joy joy” feeling we both could potentially gain from my posing? I wouldn’t. I don’t deny it. Far easier to go along for 10-15 seconds or less, than to disavow and see the disappointment.

Until you take it too far…

Not long ago, when walking out of a doctor’s office, the office manager took notice of my Bears beanie, and asked me a simple question, “You must be as disappointed in them this season as I am.”

In hindsight, I know how I should’ve answered this question. Instead, I jumped in headfirst, thinking that a brief repartee wouldn’t last more than a minute.

“Yeah,” says sports savvy I, “They just can’t seem to get it right this year.” This was true, and I was vaguely aware of some of the issues plaguing the Bears this past season.

“Well, last season (facts, figures, and analytics),” said the office manager nonchalantly.  
 Shit, I thought, time to distract with a topic I might fare better at, “I hear what you’re saying, but as you know, the Bears and Cubs seem to be (my uneducated opinion)…”

Nice one.

“True (something, something)…” the manager went on, “but the real problem with the Cubs is…”

Nope. Made it worse.

“Who knows if the Cubs will ever get their act together, but word is spreading that next season might be the one…” nice job me. “At least the Blackhawks haven’t been a disappointment these past few seasons.”

Now, I was on a roll.

“But, do you think they can recover from such and such scandal? Furthermore, (stats, facts, histories, projections, and personal philosophy),” Sports Fanatic Office Manager elaborated. The easy flow of sports information threatened to drown me at any moment, and the tiny sports knowledge boat had just sprung a leak.

I waited for an opportune moment to utter my non-committal but “knowing nod” line.

“… I am looking forward to seeing what the Cubs come up with next season, though,” he added.

There we go, thought I, “I’m also looking forward to it, but only time will tell…” winking and nodding like I knew what the fuck I was talking about.

When no further response from him was forthcoming, I made my escape.

I walked away, down the corridor, sweating through my undershirt. Had he figured me out? Six minutes had gone by, far more than any poser should engage an unfamiliar person in an unknown topic. Maybe he’d had time to conclude that I had no idea what I was talking about.

I could’ve just told the truth and been on my way. But, I’m an idiot.

Back to this morning…

“Oh, nice hat, I see you’re a Fighting Irish fan,” the man on the train showed me a tattoo on his arm.

“Ah, well, this hat was a gift from my dad. He’s a huge fan... Sorry.” I said apologetically.

 I’d learned my lesson. Sometimes we pose out of expedience; it's the way of our busy lives. But, if there is no immediate reason why either one of you needs to be on your way, don’t pose be real. You can’t fake it with a real sports fan.

However, this particular morning, the Fighting Irish fan wasn’t phased. We instantly connected on something else, something that probably tied us together more tightly than a sports team: our daughters.

“It’s manageable right now, ain’t it, though?” says my metro friend.

“Just barely,” says I, smiling. 

“My daughter’s 10. She’s all over the place.”

“So, you’re saying I have a few more years?”

“No, it’s too late. The grace period has been up till now,” he says laughing.


“That’s right.”

And, that’s real.