Wednesday, November 23, 2016

"A Tale Of Two Hats - Wait - Two Tales Of One Hat"

We were interested in seeing the show announced in the paper – an appearance by Monty Python’s Eric Idle and John Cleese, Friday night, at a theater in Pasadena, which is fifteen or so miles from our house.  The announcement mentioned a subsequent performance, occurring a week later, in San Francisco.

Here’s how impossible L.A. traffic is.

Given the Friday night freeway conditions we knew we’d be facing, we decided it would be easier to fly to San Francisco than to drive to Pasadena.


Thumbnail Comparison:  Los Angeles may have “Fashion” but San Francisco has “Style.”  (Including a guy who sold me a banana who had purple-dyed hair {as opposed to “natural” purple hair} and extended, “Shocking Pink” press-on nails but in San Francisco you suppress all judgment, going equanimitously with the flow.)

Enough of that fooferah or extranaity by any name.  Aside from avoiding our unnavigable freeways, we opted for San Francisco because have wonderful friends there, every eatery is superior – compare its beachside open-faced smoked trout with cream cheese and capers on freshly baked bread with the Los Angeles beachfront speciality:  “Hotdog-on-a-stick.”

You dress differently in San Francisco, partly because of the weather – it can get blustery up there.  Hence, the obligatory (never worn in Los Angeles) woolen scarf.  Additionally, in a “Style Place” you want to hold up your side of the sartorial equation.  San Francisco is a perennial “Costume Ball” whose unwavering theme is:  “Educated Attire.”

So I brought along my hat.

Not just any hat – a loftily priced, chocolate brown Borsalino, purchased by my daughter Anna for my sixtieth birthday.  (Not exactly purchased; she picked it; I paid for it, the collaboration eternally commemorating it as “Our hat.”)

You get few chances to wear elegant headwear in Santa Monica.  Mostly, it is baseball caps featuring the logo of your choice.  (Mine’s the “Original Six”, honoring the six original teams in the National Hockey League.)  In San Francisco, bolstering practicality and style, it’s like there’s this (invisible) billboard:  Borsanlinos Welcome.”   

Okay, so I am hankerin’ for some “gourmet” coffee at the Ferry Building, across the street from our hotel.  I place my order – “One small, black coffee”, I pay my four dollars and twenty-five cents  (Change the song to “Brother, can you spare a ‘fin’.”), I give them my name, and I step away from the counter, and await it’s arrival.

And I wait. 

And I wait. 

And I wait.

(One more.)

And I wait.

It’s just a small, black coffee.  No “non-dairy” creamer.  No inter-blending of “caffs.”  No filigreed heart, stenciled artfully on the surface.  (I know it has to “drip” but after that it’s, like, you pour it into a cup, and that’s it.  Sometimes, it drips straight into the cup.  It’s not really a big deal.  And yet… (ACCENTURATED IMPATIENT SIGH) 

I am beginning to get angry.  It seems like people who ordered after me are getting their coffee.  I am standing there, waiting for them to call “Earl!”, and nobody’s doin’ it.  It’s like they are deliberately snubbing me.

Then, finally, I hear “Earl.”  I step up, ready to complain. 

“You know, those three Asian girls were behind me.”

But just as I am about to unleash some vituperative venom, the young clerk hands me my coffee, and he says,

“That’s a fabulous hat you’ve got on.”

And the moment he says it…

I just melt… clear away.

A San Franciscoan has complimented me on my hat.  Not some actor-wannabe who thinks a guy in a Borsalino could help him.  A local habitué with nothing on the line called it a “fabulous hat.”  And you could tell, without question…

He knew.


We fly home at our end of our trip.  (Which is redundant.  When else would we fly home?)

For reasons too boring to go into, Dr. M and I are seated in separate rows.  Passengers are informed that our flight is “one hundred per cent sold out.” * (* Important for the payoff of this story.)

I assume my assigned “Middle Seat.”  The seat beside me on left is, at this time, empty. 

I buckle myself in, waiting for my (inevitable) Samoan seatmate to show up.  (This may well be a stereotype, but in my flying experience, Samoan passengers are invariably oversized individuals, tending to exceed their designated terrain.  (And encroaching oppressively onto mine.)  Apologies to all thin or conventionally “standard-sized” Samoans.  I would be happy to fly alongside any of you.)

As we prepare for departure, I am still bereft of a left-sided seatmate.  Despite the repeated announcements that our flight is “one hundred percent sold out.” *  (* Reiterated for heightened effect.)

Our plane taxies away from the terminal.  Now certain it will remain unfilled for the duration of the flight, I gently and carefully set my Borsalino onto the unoccupied seat to my left.

As we take off and proceed homeward, it occurs to me that, were you to shear off the top of the airplane and peer inside it from above, with passengers filling every seat on the airplane, minus the one directly to my left, it would not be unreasonable to assume that I had purchased a second, separate airplane ticket…

… for my hat.

One hat – two stories.

And no time to tell how I believed I had misplaced my sunglasses…

But they were instead hiding under my scarf.


JED said...

I don't want to stir up trouble but ...
Couldn't Dr. M have come to sit with you instead of the hat having its own seat?

I guess, when you get right down to it, I do like stirring up trouble.

Stephen Marks said...

Excellent point by Jed. Or you could have asked the person to the left of your hat to change places with Dr. M and then if someone had sheared the top of the plane off and peered inside they would have seen you, your hat and Dr. M sitting happily together chatting about silly walks and The Lumber Jack song. Meanwhile, the guy you booted out is joining the Mile High Club with his new seatmate while wearing your sunglasses. Everybody is happy. Except when you got to LAX and had to make that 30 minute drive home in traffic you didn't want to make in the first place. Oh well.