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2005-01-18 - 2:32 p.m.

There has always been some part of my being that wanted to be the guy in a romantic comedy in the final scene where he pulls out all the stops, asks favors from every random acquaintance he’s met over the course of his wacky adventure, and sets up the most horrifically gaudy display of affection one could ever lavish on a female. She would, of course, stand stunned for the first few moments, mumbling slightly like a Quaker speaking in tongues. Moments later the single glisteny tear would start the trickle trek down her cheek before giving the appropriate affirmation:

“I do.” “I will.” “I love you too.” “I’ll drop the charges.”

Unfortunately, the reason these scenes exist is because things like this never actually occur in the real world. In fact, all of my meticulously planned emotional firework displays have fizzled as if someone had urinated on the wick. Most often the response isn’t total joy and exuberance, but rather a strangely guttural…

“Huh.”

When the birthday or anniversary rolls around, I go practical or funny. Sexy and romantical can only result in chaos. Clothing, even in the Fredrick’s of Hollywood vein, is utterly out. I’m off by one inch and there will come the lashing, the screaming, the splinters under the fingernails, and finally the dramatic display of said sad piece of attire hanging well within line of sight, gathering dust, and loudly remind all who pass by: “Here hangs his failure!”

Jewelry? Do I look like a fool? I’ve bought two pieces of jewelry for girlfriends of the past and both have been the equivalent of presenting them with a loaded shotgun and pictures of me necking with their sister. Always a fan of gifts with a story I picked up a small silver ring depicting a snake from a local antique store. I knew she had smaller hands than me, but seeing as it fit rather tightly on my pinkie, I figured I was in the safe zone. Considering the girl in question had readily accepted the title of Vile Temptress I figured a little Eden reference would be up her alley as well. It didn’t fit, she didn’t like it, and two days after it was gifted there was a rather unfortunate incident with it falling into a mud pit in the quad.

Should I ever decide to buy an engagement ring I will end up consulting her best friend, my best friend, the jeweler, a banker, my mother, (since she’ll have to co-sign the loan) a few random people on the street, and at least one well known hip-hop star, as they know best how to Pimp Her Finger. (Thursdays on VH1.)

In all honesty, I know I’d find the one I like, start putting money away, and feel utterly confident in my decision. That is, until I went to purchase the damn thing, at which point the insanity described above would begin.

It is thanks to my romantic inabilities that it has been nearly a decade since I’ve regularly worn a hat.

Being in high school, and having about as much game as an Atari 5300 after being run over by a MAC Truck, you tend to latch onto the littlest thing that might be consider romantic. This is probably commonly known fact, but ladies, if you compliment a young man on his attire, on his aftershave, even on his tooth brushing ability, this will read to him as if he’s just found the magic key to the lock in every girl’s knickers. This knowledge will be passed to his friends, their friends, and eventually end up on a website where we males try and decipher the Matrix of female kind. Compliment a guy on his leather duster jacket, and you can expect at least his immediate group of troglodytes to appear with in a week in matching dusters, looking like a rural farming gang. “You pick an apple on our turf, and we WILL bust a buckshot in your bee-hind!”

It was this form of simplistic male thinking that had me walking around with a blue flower in my black fedora for months on end.

The fedora came from a bargain basement in an Urban Outfitters in Boston. A school jaunt up to Bean town didn’t result in much sight seeing, just a lot of sarcastic banter and general public mockery of anyone and everyone in our path. Still, being fifteen and from a little industrial town in Connecticut, we were rather giddy at the idea of Urban Outfitters, still naive enough to think it outlandishly cool.

The flower came from the girl. She was taking a theater class, and when she had to do a scene with a florist her acting partner went out and bought a solid bucket of fake roses in every color of the rainbow, sans red. I went down to see her do the scene, still proudly wearing my black topper. After all the lines we enunciated and dramatically mimed, she bounded up to me, the trill of the stage in her bones, and ran one blue flower under the bow of the hat. She smiled at her handiwork, and then landed a big kiss on me. Afterwards, as I stood slightly stunned, she smiled at her handiwork.

This alone would have been nothing. A momentary expression. But, I, being the drama queen that I so often am, compounded the matter. I left the flower in there, thinking she’d appreciate her addition still lingering about. Not surprisingly, my friends, upon seeing the satiny blossom in my hat, responded, as any rarified and educated man should, by questioning my sexuality, and theorizing about my lack of genitalia. I took the barbs and went about my business, but later on during the day, the girl and I squabbled over something, and in an act of proud and threatening defiance, I roughly slid the flower to floor.

One day later, we made up. And she handed me the flower. And I had to put it back in the hat. And it had to stay there. For the entire period of our little relationship. Six months I wore that flower in my hat. A month later it got cold and I starting wearing a scarf. Even my parents were waiting for me to whip out a pair of Daisy Dukes.

When she finally left, something about me being a friend rather than a boyfriend, the flower went, but the hat went too, so identified with this sinking ship. Since then, I never had much opportunity for the fedora. I’ve had my wool caps, and hooded jackets to keep my ears on my head, but for a hat I actually liked, I gave up for some time.
I knew buying that hat for my Halloween costume, that I was getting a little more than a Jimmy Olsen accessory. Now that the cold has gotten bitter and my other hat has gone with my bag to the land of the black market, my brow is wrapped in the confines of a Kent. Despite occasionally being heckled with a “Hey! Indy!,” I’m rather enjoying my hat experience, and this time, I will know better when approached by a woman with flowers.

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