The day I lost my cap
I habitually where a black baseball cap. My eyeglasses interfere with the convenience of sunglasses, and so I prefer baseball caps to any other kind of head gear because the visor offers my eyes good protection from the sun. As long as I can remember I have worn a cap. At first it might have been only to help keep me warm after reading somewhere that (in the winter time at least) 40% of our body’s heat loss occurs through the head. After that I suppose it was for adolescent vanity. But finally it became a matter of utility. In the 1970s my mother bought all of my brothers and me the steam train locomotive fireman’s/engineer’s caps that were briefly so popular then. I even tried a laborer’s cap like what John Lennon often donned in 1964. But I didn’t think it looked as good on me as I thought it did on him, so I gave it up. Later I came to appreciate the camouflage potential of a good cap pulled low partially to hide one’s face. Then the theme of hiding my face became congruous with my fetish for black clothes as a strategy for hiding the rest of me as well and for isolating myself either by camouflage or intimidation. (My heavy black boots and cultivated lope also play a part in it.)
Recently I have taken to wearing one of my father’s old black fedoras, still in the hall closet at Mom’s house in Ontario. Very little of my father’s old clothes can fit me or any of my brothers - the shirt and jacket sleeves and trouser legs are all far too short, while the shoes are too loose. But this fedora fit me. And although it is a departure from my usual look, it looks good. I think I look like Ethan Hawke more than Johnny Depp, Indiana Jones or Sm Spade. However the visor - the most important feature of headwear for me - does not protect my eyes from the sun. Not at all. So I could wear it and walk around looking cool but feeling uncomfortable, or I could stick with the cap, which never fails to look good anyway. I stuck with the cap, but occasionally use the fedora. (Another drawback is that the fedora cannot be easily stuffed in my pocket when I need to remove my head covering - like for reading on the commuter trains.)
Now, I lost my precious black baseball cap on Saturday, November 20, 2010. My band was playing a brief evening show in an awful, inadequate venue organized by a horrible twit near Shimo-Kitazawa Station on the Odakyu Line west of Shinjuku Station in central Tokyo. Comfortably extricating myself from the puny place with all my belongings was impossible. As long as I stayed put I was okay. But leaving was like trying to crawl through a rugby scrum.
It’s okay, I got it back a few days later, and it is only a dollar store / ¥100 shop cap. But I still paid the delivery company more than seven times the original price to get it back. (Yes, it was worth it. What’s mine is mine, after all, and what’s important is important, never mind the reasons.) The venue where I lost it returned it to me by parcel delivery. But as soon as I realized it was gone, and for the days I did without (I wore Dad’s fedora instead) I felt a mixture of sadness and anger. Not as if a person close to me had died, but certainly as if a beloved pet had died, or run away. You see, the thing is that I love my stuff. I’m that much of a materialist. My stuff is important to me - whose isn’t? - and I feel like I have a personal relationship with it, especially with those things I use daily like my boots, cap, jeans and shirts, satchel, books, etc. The need for them in addition to the mere familiarity with them sharpens the feeling. I grew up in a family of five brothrs and my parents enforced peace among us with the iron rule of respect for each other’s stuff. (1. Do not enter your brother’s bedroom without permission. 2. Do not touch anything of your brother’s without permission. 3. Return borrowed items in the same condition.)
I know it’s only stuff, and I can’t take it with me in the end, and it naturally wears out and I will inevitably throw it away myself, and it was only a cheap ¥100 cap, after all. But I can’t help it. It’s a good cap, and losing it was almost like losing part of myself. Maybe literally, because figure it this way: the more personal the items are the greater the chance that they bear physical traces of me. Fingerprints. Oil and other secretions from my skin, my hair, my - embarrassed whisper - my body. Maybe a hair and skin themselves. And, if a hair or flake of skin, then recoverable DNA, too. Not to mention the noological imprint of my consciousness and spirit in it from long close association.