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Play-acting, maybe

There was a rehearsed quality to his pretend understanding

“A hat is necessarily defined by its creases...yet the creases, necessarily, soften with age and over time lose definition.”
  • “A hat is necessarily defined by its creases...yet the creases, necessarily, soften with age and over time lose definition.”

Post Title: Hats and the Funeral Parlor, Part 1

Post Date: July 2, 2015

I brought a hat to my Grandma’s service in order to keep my hands busy. It matched my outfit well, with a purple grosgrain ribbon, and with Grandma having loved purple. There was not enough time to get my hair cut (and it’s been six weeks since I’ve seen a set of clippers), so I wore long hair to my grandma’s funeral, just slicked back with hair-paste and — despite the wax — a bit unruly. But you don’t wear a hat in situations that demand respect. Restaurant dinners don’t count anymore, nor other indoor activities where in years past a donned hat would’ve been as conspicuous as an open umbrella in a crowded room. Tally the hatted patrons in your local eatery and consider how times have changed.

Times have changed except in mausoleums and churches, so I fingered the fedora’s brim and turned the hat counter-clockwise by habit, not thinking to place it to my crown. The inside of the hat is dull with wear and the straw is forgiving. A hat is necessarily defined by its creases — it’s what makes a fedora a fedora and a pork pie its own thing — yet the creases, necessarily, soften with age and over time lose definition.

I resolutely sat with my dad at the front of the chapel for the service, and my son Cayden sat a few seats down, this being a certain catenary chain of fathers and sons. Cayde did well, administering hugs in his usual and occasional fashion, a bow tie clipped to his collar. It was our intention to not hide him from this, exposure not always leading to frostbite. Sometimes it results in the opposite.

Cayde was warm, hugging the line of monuments — Jenn, my mom, my dad — and he held my thigh when we were singing “How Great Thou Art,” which, despite me being irreligious, has a religious effect on me: within the hymn is the common G that descends to an unlikely Am7. It’s an unobvious chord progression, but perfect in its unexpectedness. The minor fall and the major lift, another song says.

I tousled Cayde’s hair, which he swore he washed the night prior. He still smelled like ‘boy’ though, which I noted before he darted off to rejoin his mom sitting an invisible number of seats away. He was almost giddy, and there was a rehearsed quality to his pretend understanding of all this. Play-acting, maybe, like when he iterated and most likely sought approval in saying, “You know, Daddy — GG may be gone but she’s alive in our hearts.”

I believe this, but I didn’t believe Cayden for a second. It’s a pantomime of empathy; he’s seven. He’s on the right track, but still just seven, which is old enough to understand the gravity of things, but too young to even nascently understand that gravity is a fall, which ultimately ends somewhere. He smiled throughout the church service; the pews and flowers and overhead fly-beams being something new; the drama new; the fact that anyone with a wet face would couch him in an arm not new, but yet a fantastic thing. We’d all like to be held close, unconditionally, and to have everyone grab our little-sized hands to feel better about our guilty and big-sized hands. We’d like to forget how we’ve exactly grown up.

To me, the church smelled like a church and there were five bouquets footing the cross.

It came time for prayer, one of three liturgical moments, and the pastor predictably wore white. Even the irreligious should bow their heads in church as, similarly, you should not wear hats. When Cayde pressed his blond head to my hip and purred his particular “I love you,” only then did I tear briefly, the tears lubricating the insides of my glasses, my head being downturned.

My dad patted my thigh once during the service, this being important, too.

Title: Daddy, Medium Well | Author: Thom Hofman | From: San Diego | Blogging since: March 2013

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