Hats are old hat

Published 12:00 am Sunday, April 13, 2003

If I were asked to join the Red Hats, I would have to decline.

It's not that I don't like to let it all hang out and have all kinds of fun, it's just that I don't want to put a lid on it.

A hat can put a lid on a lot of things and fun is one of them.

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My first introduction to hats was at Easter time. I grew up back when little girls wore stiff, frilly dresses, patten leather shoes and white gloves on Easter Sunday. And, our outfits were always topped off Easter bonnets.

Every Easter Sunday, I would pitch a fit and Mama would finally have to whip me to make me put on that Easter costume. Of course, I got a whipping every Sunday morning anyway, because I never liked to dress up for Sunday school. But, Easter Sunday was especially bad because I had to wear the costume until after dinner, so Aunt Eleanor and Mugi could see how "pretty" I looked.

I looked stupid and I didn't want anybody to see me. But, they did. And they also saw my stripped legs where Mama had switched me to make me put on my Easter costume.

When I got older, I was more reconciled to having an Easter costume, but I still didn't like it but I'd gotten too big to pitch a fit.

When I was about 10 years old, the head style changed for adolescents.

Somebody came up with the idea of a plastic headband with artificial flowers glued to it as an Easter headdress.

Mama bought me a green two-piece suit with white shoes, gloves, purse and a headband with pink and yellow flowers.

Then, she took my picture, standing as stiff as a board with the purse dangling from my hand and flowers growing out the top of my head. I was standing by our Hudson car and looked like a funeral arrangement just being delivered.

Easter Sunday was not my favorite day. I was glad that Jesus had died for my sins and that He rose from the dead, but I just wished he hadn't done it on Easter Sunday because it was a day of misery for me.

I thought things couldn't get worse but they did.

When I got older, more stuff was required of me on Sunday. I had to wear high heel shoes and stockings held up by elastics and other things to give me "support." I didn't like any of it.

Along about that time, I almost broke my arm trying to kiss my elbow so I would turn into a boy and get away from all that stuff. But I couldn't. Why couldn't I have been a boy? They had all the fun.

Daddy said before I was born God asked me what I wanted to be and I said a girl. So I was stuck with it. I kicked myself for being so stupid.

For a while, girls got a reprieve. Hats went out of style.

But, Loa and behold! They came back in again right about the time I was invited to Auburn to a football game with a boy who made my heart flip.

I pranced off in high heels, a brown shift and a gold chain, gloves - you had to wear those to a college football game - and a hat.

We had to park a country mile from the stadium and, by the time I walked that distance on stilts, I was worn to a frazzle. I felt like I'd been plowing a mule from dawn to dusk.

Inside the stadium, we went to our "seats" which were on the dirt bank down around the 10-yard line.

There I was perched up on the slippery slope like a peacock waiting for its feathers to fall.

The shift started to slip and I started to slide. I envisioned myself skidding down the bank with my dress coming up over my head and landing right in the middle of the band waiting to take the field.

I dug the high heels of my shoes into the dirt and brought the skid to a screeching halt. I pulled my dress down, straighten my hat and cheered for the orange and blue.

For three-quarters and a half, I braced myself against the slide and it began to take a toll on my legs. My knees started to quiver and I could hold on no longer.

But, then someone suggested that we go so we could beat the traffic.

I pulled my heels out and high tailed it without replacing the divots. My legs were weakened from all they had been put through that day. By the time we reached the car that late afternoon my gait mimicked that of a bowlegged cowboy trying to walk a tightrope.

In my labored effort to walk, I staggered into a man who'd had a few too many. The collision knocked the hat off my head and it was trampled under the feet of 10 thousand Auburn Tigers.

I mumbled, "Thank you, Lord' and, right then and there, swore off hats forever. But, high heel shoes? Well, you never know when they might come in handy.