Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Time For The Dork Hat

I am - when parsed down to the elements that comprise my whole -  a simple redneck. "Hat" to me means a ballcap, preferably one I didn't pay for and which advertises a service or business I've never used. And like most male rednecks, I started wearing ballcaps in my larval stage, cabbaging on to whatever cap I could find, molding the brim to my preferred dimensions and then basically wearing it until it fell apart or developed appendages and crawled off under its own power.

I never felt comfortable in a cowboy hat, a fedora, a boonie hat or those straw old man-looking Panama Jack things, because, well, I always looked like a raging dork when I put one on. I tried. Really, I did. But every time I tried one on in a store and then looked in the mirror, all I'd see staring back at me was a big, Chad-sized penis with an unrolled condom perched on top of it.

So no matter how practical they were, I never did wear one. I dubbed them "Dork Hats" not because I thought they were dorky per se, but because that's what I looked like standing underneath one. I always went back to my old ballcaps, regardless of how fundamentally useless they are at actually protecting, shading or warming your head (of course  the argument could certainly be made that I look like a dick no matter what I'm wearing, but we won't delve into that here...).

But a funny thing happens as you get older: you stop giving a shit what you look like and start caring more about how comfortable you are. Such was the situation I recently found myself in as I was following the dork hat-wearing Greg McReynolds around southern Colorado.

That's Greg (and his dork hat) in the picture. I don't think he'll get mad for me calling his dork hat a dork hat. Hell, I even warned him I'd probably mention his dork hat and he didn't tell me to stop taking his picture or threaten to shove the camera up my ass, so I guess he's cool with it. If not, well, sorry Greg, and I guess this means no grouse hunting invite...

Sunny days at 9,000 feet are deceiving: the cool mountain breeze masks the fact that you're getting absolutely fried. Knowing this, I was constantly applying sunscreen to my face and neck as we fished, sunscreen that would immediately sweat off and drip into my eyeballs right as I was trying to watch my fly drift through a run. Every time I did this I'd curse, take off my sunglasses, rub my eyes, curse some more, look over at Greg's dork hat that was effectively shading his sunscreen-free eyes and think "why does some dude eight years younger than me have this shit figured out and I don't? Am I that stupid?"

And then, suddenly, an epiphany appeared in my poorly-shaded, over-heated, sweat-soaked head: I'm almost forty. I'm married. I have two kids. I'm fat, losing my hair, yell at the neighborhood children and I'm overdue for my first colonoscopy. I am, by definition, an...old man! And old men are allowed, nay, expected to look like a walking dildo.

So here I am, shopping for my first dork hat. I'm not giving up my ballcaps completely. What else would I wear to a fancy  you-don't-even-have-to-unwrap-the-food restaurant, right? But I think I'm sold on broad-brimmed hats for hot-weather fishing and hunting. Unless, of course, I wanted to go the ballcap-and-buffs route. And while I don't mind looking like I'm wearing a prophylactic, I probably would mind actually being wrapped up like one, so I think I'll stick with the dork hat.

Any suggestions? 


  1. Why yes, Chad, I have a perfect suggestion:

  2. No suggestions, but before I got to the end, I was thinking to myself, "Once men reach a certain age, real hats (not baseball caps) start looking good on them.

    Get thee to a haberdasher and find the right one for you.

    And ... overdue for a colonoscopy before age 40? That can't be true!

  3. The straw hat is by far the most effective at keeping you cool. Sadly it's by far the easiest to crush beyond repair. If you go that route, get one with a strap so you don't end up having to carry it.

  4. Pickelhaube, huh? With the grace I have scrambling across rocks, a helmet/hat might come in handy. Not to mention that spike would help me if I were faced with a charging bear or an angry mountain hippie...

    Norcal, you're right. For some reason I thought 39 or 40 was the time for the first uh...inspection. Phew! I can take that off my list of "things in the near-future to not look forward to"

    Mark, I thought about either dropping 80 bucks on a Tilley or six bucks on a straw hat. I think the straw hat'll win that one...

  5. Chad
    Ah the 'is-what-it-is moment'. Now the bad news.
    Girls in their twenties will start hitting on you.


  6. For summer and straw, buy one of the woven palm hats- they're heavier than true straw, but more durable, easier to mold to shape, and much less expensive. For cool weather, I wear a Resistol crushable fur felt hat (not a cowboy style, though, and, I tell myself, not too Indiana Jones) that is about the most comfortable hat I've ever worn. Every now and then you can come across an unlined canvas hat with a stiffened brim (not boonie-style) and those are pretty comfortable, too, and great for fishing in the mountains (straw hats tend to be too bright- spook the fish).

    As you can see, I moved past only ball caps a while ago, though they'll always have their place.

  7. I don't mind you calling it a dork hat, but for the record I looked pretty good in it when it was new and I was 10 years younger.
    For the fall, I get out my newer dork hat.
    If you plunk down the cash for a felt stetson or resistol, it will last decade...

  8. I'll second that vote for a Stetson, and add in the fact that it's totally utilitarian... even if it looks a little dorky. The sun protection really does become more important as you get older, or at least I notice the burn a lot more now (I guess doctors will tell you that the sunburns of youth are a critical source of skin cancer, but why push it now?)

    I find that in my latter years I've regressed back to my childhood style, cowboy boots and hat, blue jeans and shirts that don't have buttons.

  9. If you're willing to go beyond the dork hat category into the asshole hat category, then I'm sure a nice Stetson (straw in summer, black felt in cooler weather) ought to do the trick. To clarify, not everyone wearing a Stetson is an asshole, just the "all hat and no cattle" kind of folks. I'm sure that would apply to you (and me).

  10. Stetson or Resistol it is, if I can only find one at the Goodwill store that has some pre-installed character...

  11. I now wear a cheap straw hat made for an Amish boy in the summer, but it is not the look for everyone.

    Filson the rest of the time or in the rain, accept no substitutes.

    The Filson can be thrown into the back of the car and slept on by several wet dogs and come out fighting. Current one is eight or ten years old, prior one probably lasted a dozen, and I think was lost rather than retired.

    The Amish boy's hat is a bit more fussy. I need to rig some sort of bungie loft for it in the car.

    Trouble with brim hats is you can't wear them while driving, or while running the tractor or shooting if you use proper hearing protection. So it's back to the ballcap for that.

  12. Canadian-made Tilley Endurables. Still look dorky on someone who isn't a model, professional or otherwise, but good hats nonetheless. Also, the Airflo series keeps your braincase much cooler than otherwise. I have one (don't know the exact model, might be the LTM5A Audobon) that is just a phenomenal hiking hat.

  13. First let me say I felt like I had written this post myself. I love hats and have bought a number of them over the years because I loved how they looked on other people but when I put it on my head I look like a dork dude. Brad Pitt's hat in a River Runs Through It, love it. Gene Hackman's in The French Connection, loved it. Pretty much anything Spencer Tracy wore.... just not on me. I'm 53 I should be over how I look.

  14. I'm telling' ya:

    Take it anywhere, stuff it in a pack, don't worry about crushing it, built to last a long, long time. Good for sun, good for rain. Way cheaper than a Stetson, too. This goes everywhere with me now. And the better half kinda likes it.

  15. This hat is mabe of cotton and polyester material and is very durable.It comes with an adjustable string neck's looks and fits great.
    Poly Boonie Hat