Chris Ledoux said it best when he sang This Cowboys Hat.
Since covered by plenty of country folk, including Australia’s own Lee Kernaghan.
Anyway, though I am not a cowboy, and don’t have a nephew who served in Nam, my hats still hold a special place in my heart.
I guess I’ll start at the beginning.
Pretty sure it was my 11th birthday when I asked for a baseball cap, baseball, baseball bat and glove.
Looking back I guess this odd request came from the fact that I watched a lot of movies. And given that the Australian film industry wasn’t exactly booming in the 80’s*, the movies I watched were all American.
The boys were always bonding with their fathers in the yard, playin catch.
Think, Sandlot Kids.
So perhaps this was my way of trying to establish some kind of relationship with my father.
Or maybe I just wanted to be a boy.
And play baseball.
Either way, I got these fantastic gifts, complete with a white sox baseball cap!
I don’t recall ever using them as much as intended, but I would play by myself with them a lot, in the yard, or over in the prickliest park in town.
I guess I tired of baseball eventually, but I never tired of the cap.
That first cap started a lifelong love of caps.
The first cap I bought with my own money was a during the great ‘Starter Cap’ phase in our town. As per usual, I shied from the masses and instead turned to a fantastic, black (surprise, surprise) ‘Pussy-Chicken’ cap, which had a picture of a cat calling a chicken “chicken”, and a chicken calling a cat “pussy”. Hilarious.
And hilariously inappropriate, seeing as I bought this hat at Redbank Plaza while I was holidaying solo at my grandparents’ house.
Bit of a rebellion peeking through I guess. Similar to the stage my sisters went through, wearing their Guns n Roses t shirts at my Grandparents house. Not just regular shirts, the bad ones. “Guns n Roses was here”. Yeah, THOSE ones.
I had baseball caps, quicksilver and hot tuna caps, corduroy caps and tri coloured caps. But I always had one.
In High School I would sit smugly in class while the boys all got chatted to take their hats off. I never had to, because I was a girl. I don’t know why or how that rule ever stood.
I generally followed hat courtesy though.
Always removed my cap when eating, during the national anthem, and when then the social situation dictated, or when entering a club, lest I have to shout the bar. I always wondered if the Golf Club staff would actually make a 13 year old girl shout the bar, but never wanted to test this theory.
And Friday and Saturday nights I would let my hair flow free, but still happily wear any cap given to me to wear by a spunky boy. Teenage style flirting, nothing like it.
When I was thrust into the world of adulthood at the tender age of 17, I stowed away my caps in an effort to grow up and be like the magazines and my new peers told me I should be.
These were my hat free, mature, having baby’s years.
Only once I had had all my babies, I turned my attention back to making myself happy. Sounds selfish, but it’s not. Mums will understand this.
I started exercising and spending far more time outside and found I needed to dig my caps back out.
So I did, and with them, I once again found myself!
The trucker cap I wear now is always part of my daily attire. I love it, the fit is impossible to replicate. This is my 2nd. When they wear out, they become my exercise caps, you can never have too many caps.
If I was Sampson, they’d be my hair.
I also got an akubra a few years ago which is in my regular rotation. It’s my go to hat for mowing, working outdoors, TA-ing for Dan, hanging out washing and camping.
And I still follow hat etiquette, and drill these rules into the girls.
It’s just a part of who I am.
And a part of who I was.
We grew up with cowboy hats on our heads, covered in badges, camping and fishing and exploring the bush.
My Dad always had his cowboy hat, or his Eagles cap on his head. Except of course, at dinner or the golf club.
So maybe this is my way of keeping him around. Remembering.
Or maybe I just like hats.
And being sun safe.
So if you see me with my cap on, please know I’m not being rude, I’m not trying to be a boy, I’m not trying to be anything, I’m just being me.
“You’ll ride a black tornado ‘cross the western sky
Rope an ol’ blue northern, and milk it till it’s dry
Bulldog the Mississippi and pin its ears down flat
Long before you take this cowboy’s hat”
*I did get the name one for my kids from a fantastic Australian 80’s movie, Playing Beatie Bow. I also developed a crush on the hunky Judah, aka Peter Phelps, who, you’ll be pleased to know, has held up his handsomeness quite well in his older years. And lost the massive chops he had in this film.