Sunday, March 09, 2014
Look at Me I'm Wearing a Hat
Megan Abbott home from our place last night because look! She had to go through at least one dark alley. Which I'm sure she could have handled alone but for God's sake! I'm a gentleman! And like most gentlemen I am wearing a derby. Because we were watching THE LIFE AND TIMES OF JUDGE ROY BEAN and I was like, "Hey! I have a hat just like one of Paul Newman's hats in this movie! Same color (brown) and everything!" So I broke out the hat. ("Click" here for another incredible story about someone exclaiming something about a hat in a movie.) Let me tell you about my hat. This tale will be sure to bore you! I was up at the City Grocery Bar and a doctor who frequents that place surprised me by giving me a hat he had ordered for me! In a hat box! This was some years ago. One year ago? At least a year ago. I once wrote a novel about a 30-foot-tall giant who wears just such a hat, and this was the doctor's way of saying he enjoyed the novel. I guess the giant is 30 feet tall. I don't believe I'm very specific about it. Once in a Q&A session after a reading someone asked me how tall the giant was, and that's what I came up with. "How much does he weigh?" a smart aleck followed up. "A hundred and ten pounds," I replied sarcastically. It occurs to me that in the first draft I had the giant switch sizes when he felt like it. Tom Franklin read that draft and said, "You know, if he changes size he's not really a giant." I had to admit Tom had a point! Ugh, so then I had go back and rewrite the whole thing. So thanks for nothing. Now, the novel was inspired by a guy I saw in the Little Five Points section of Atlanta wearing a derby, rather ridiculously, I thought, and I imagined his inner monologue, which resulted in the first sentence of the novel: "Man, I look fantastic in this derby." Isn't that the first sentence of the novel? Was that comma in there? So I guess I was making fun of people who wear derbies. But remember what Mel Brooks said! (You really need to "click" on that "hyperlink.") The hat was far too small for my melon-like head, so I borrowed a hat stretcher. Guess who had a hat stretcher. That's right, Chris Offutt! He is the kind of man who has a hat stretcher lying around just in case. So anyway now I have worn a derby in public, sort of. I have slunk through back alleys wearing a derby.