By Sue Murphy
In the next few weeks, the air will be filled with hats, or more specifically, caps. Having been officially pronounced done and done, graduates will throw those silly mortarboard numbers in the air with glee. If the cap-and-gown set wasn’t designated disposable, parents will be scrambling around behind them to retrieve what’s left of their security deposits.
Graduation mortarboards are a time-honored tradition. They serve no real purpose, but such is the way with a lot of hats. Chef hats, for example, do nothing to protect the chef from head trauma or keep his hair out of the bouillabaisse. Stiffly starched nursing caps? They were cute and all, but they didn’t aid in the TLC. And those big fuzzy hats worn by the Buckingham Palace guards — seriously?
I recently attended a gala school fundraiser with a Kentucky Derby theme, so of course, I wore a hat. It’s what one does. Why? Apparently, the Royal Ascot people require them and the Derby folks followed suit in a typically American “wear ‘em if you’ve got ‘em” sort of way.
The British are big on hats, especially for weddings, where it’s an unspoken rule that the hat of the MOG (Mother of the Groom) cannot outdo that of the MOB (Mother of the Bride) in size or adornment. At the most recent royal nuptials, the rule was apparently waved as the MOFOG (Mother of the Father of the Groom) was Her Majesty the Queen. If you ask me, the woman is darned cute no matter what she wears.
The pre-wedding red carpet featured wide brims and pillboxes and a few of those hats called “fascinators” that can be alternately fascinating or appear as if the wearer has simply stapled a junior prom corsage to her head.
I’ve never been much of a hat person. The straw Easter hats I wore as a child were itchy and always held tightly to my head with an elastic band that wore trenches under my chin. I came to appreciate hats more during my recent chemo run because, I don’t know if you know this, but without hair, your body heat just rushes out of the top of your head like someone left the gate open. Hats put a lid on that seepage, literally. On the other hand, a hat can protect your poor noggin from the encroachment of excessive summer heat. In that way, hats are kind of like thermoses. (“How do they know?”)
There are rain hats and sun hats and hats with flaps that extend their brilliant two-fold insulating protection to your ears. Hard hats protect you from falling nuts and bolts. Football helmets protect you from falling linebackers. There are bowlers and Stetsons and toboggans and fedoras, top hats and Panama hats and beanies and berets. You could have a different hat for every day of the year if you had a big enough closet. You’d need a really tall shelf for one of those Buckingham Palace numbers, but I’m sure it could be arranged.
Alas, there are very few occasions that require mortarboards, but you could always wear it on a post-graduation trip to Disneyworld. It wouldn’t be Goofy, just goofy, but that’s the point.
Anyway, hats off, all you graduates! You’ve worked hard and deserve to set your caps aloft. Just wait until the ceremony is over and your grandparents have had a chance to take pictures. Graduation guests, you are free to wear hats to commencement if the mood strikes you; just make sure they don’t block the view of the person behind you. I don’t care whose mother you are.