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Soup of This Day #159: Walk Without Rhythm And It Won’t Attract The Worm

April 3, 2012

Napolean on Saint Helena
Napolean wearing his lucky hat and looking out to sea on the island of Saint Helena. Where he was exiled after stuffing up an away match at Waterloo – Image: Francois-Joseph Sandmann, c1820. Francois-Joseph Sandmann is not affiliated with Longworth72. Image cropped by Longworth72.

The other day my wife asked me which hat I’d bring to the birth of our 2nd child.

I wear a number of hats. This is not a metaphorical reflection on the different roles that a modern man is required to fill – I’m talking about actual headwear. I have a small but cherished collection of hats, none of which I look particularly good in.

1 of my favourite hats is a fedora-style model. I once got asked by a colleague why I’d chosen that hat, with the subtext being that it and I didn’t quite gel. I explained that every now and then I catch sight of my shadow and for that brief moment the Raiders of the Lost Ark theme plays in my head and I’m mentally preparing to fight the Nazis in 1936.

‘I’m going to buy 1 of those hats,’ he announced.

As cool as that hat makes me feel it’s not 1 of the hats that my wife was on about. She was asking which 1 of my Red Sox caps would I bring along.

I have 4 Red Sox caps. 1 was a childhood purchase, the catalyst for my Red Sox support. It’s still in good nick approaching 30 years of age but doesn’t fit me any more, leaving me with 3 wearable options – A 1934 Cooperstown replica, a 1975 Cooperstown replica and a current New Era 49/40. I alternate between the 3 and yeah I often take them with me, even when I don’t have much need for a hat. Like when I’m hanging out in the birthing suite of a hospital for instance.

The short explanation is that it’s for luck. I’m not by nature a superstitious guy but I don’t entirely understand this universe and I figure, for the really big, important stuff, that it can’t hurt to cover the bases.

The longer answer is that I suffer from depression with a side-order of anxiety. By taking a baseball hat along to the big life gigs I kind of help myself to better handle the anxiety – I know that it’s unreasonable but then again I also know that the anxiety isn’t necessarily about reason anyway – I figure that the hats help me to keep things nice and level and as a bonus provide some sun protection so it’s not the worst thing I could do.

On the flipside, I did get a little manic last year when I lost my prized 1946 Cooperstown replica, known to me as ‘The Ted Williams’. The Ted was with me for the birth of The Noah and so I’d imbued that cap with a fairly magical weight. Due to constant wear it was also imbued with the kind of sweat stains that tended to mean that only I wanted to wear it. Either way I took the loss hard.

Strangely, I don’t wear the hats for luck when it comes to barracking for my team. The Red Sox tanked across September 2011 regardless of which hat I wore or even on the days I didn’t bring 1 along. Which is nice as I’d hate for me to become the focus of the Nation’s wrath instead of fried chicken, beer and John Lackey. You see, there are many more relevant factors in my team’s success, such as the ability of the team to execute the fundamentals in the clutch – It turns out that if they play like crap then they are less likely to win games. Wearing the gear however does make me feel like I am a greater part of the club and somehow more involved so I still wear a shirt during games from time to time. And a scarf. Or 2. Maybe a cap or beanie as well.

Sunday night just past Liverpool played Newcastle in the EPL. I chose to wear a regular t-shirt through this game, which as it turns out was a Red Sox 1. Post-match I can confirm that it wouldn’t have made a difference if I’d worn Elmo pyjamas – Liverpool were not the better side. At 1 point Reds striker Andy Carroll, a former Newcastle player, seemed set to give Liverpool the lead. He rounded the keeper but with the goal gaping went to ground as the ball harmlessly ran wide. He was subsequently booked for diving but replays suggest he just failed in the key concept of ‘running’.

Not ‘running with the ball’. Just ‘running’. He made a mess of putting 1 foot (the right) after the other (the left) and fell over.

Newcastle, having worked out the whole remaining upright thing, then scored 2 goals, while Liverpool could only muster a red card for keeper Pepe Reina, garnering the stopper an automatic 3 game suspension. All-in-all a brilliant night’s work from a Liverpool team who seem to be more focused on selling shirts to guys like me than actually making us proud to wear them.

Which doesn’t strike me as sustainable. At least in part because as we’ve just established I know that me wearing a cap or a shirt will not affect the way that my team plays. I’m like that as a player as well – I never had lucky boots or socks and I didn’t much go in for pre-game rituals, like not washing the bloodstain off my right shin-pad.

I do have a bloodstain on my right shin-pad but mostly I keep that there as a warning to other players. And it’s very difficult to get bloodstains out of anything.

For a time I claimed my keeper’s gloves were lucky but this was mostly because the kind of keeper I was I generally considered any piece of equipment that kept the ball out of my goal to be very lucky indeed. Also the gloves were my only pair and bloody expensive so it’s not like I wore them as an option.

At the end of 1 season I did acquire a talisman that made it into my kitbag on subsequent game-days. At the league award ceremony they announced the MVP for my team. I clapped along with everyone else and looked around for the winner to stride forward. My future wife had to shove me forward with a, ‘It’s you Fred.’ Even then as my team captain hung the medal over my head I clearly remember telling him that he must have got the wrong guy.

Later he explained it – I’d tied with another guy for the most votes but got the nod from the committee – Mostly because I turned up early for every game and never shirked my duties, on the field or off. It turned out that in my own way I was a pretty valuable player.

Consequently I carry the medal with me to major events in my life whereby I’m required to make a contribution, such as football games I’m playing in or job interviews – It’s not for luck though – It’s there to remind me that I’m valuable too. You could argue that I need that less and less nowadays – Mostly because I have this other reminder that dwarfs any award that I’ve ever won. He’s called The Noah and he’s pretty much the greatest achievement of my life to date. The thing is though, it’s not particularly helpful if I take him to a job interview. The little tacker is so magnetic he’d end up getting the job with his old man side-lined. Or he’d rip his pants off and triumphantly streak across the room. Either way I’d lose out so for now I just rely on that MVP medal for a confidence top-up.

Back to choosing a birthing hat and on Saturday night I attended a fancy dress party. The theme was to rock up in something to do with the letter ‘J’ so I chose to be Indiana Jones. We arrived a little after 7, just as the Dockers were in the final stages of their Round 1 clash with last year’s AFL Premiers Geelong. The game was tight, I’d been listening on the radio as we drove over and so right away I was trying to manoeuvre to where I could see a TV.

Now apparently wearing a hat inside is bad manners, bad luck and just bad form. If so it wasn’t that night, at least not for my fedora and the Freo lads. As I locked eyes on the big screen in the corner I was just in time to see Dockers skipper Matty Pavlich soccer a goal through on the angle, giving Freo a 10 point lead with 2:55 on the clock. It was to be the match-winner in an absolute belter of a contest.

I think therefore that I’ll be welcoming the new, littlest tacker with a dip of the old fedora. Sure it’s old school, but it’s not the years, it’s the mileage.

Walk Without Rhythm And It Won’t Attract The Worm

2 Comments
  1. I am not sure where we stand on the “wearing a hat inside” thoughts. I see a lot of people – mostly those who are folically challenged – wearing hats in diners, restaurants and bars. I’m not sure if we’re still supposed to be removing them or not. The childhood Red Sox hat should go to “The Big T.” That would be adorable. Or fedorable…

    • According to GQ magazine it is ok to wear a hat in a corridor or elevator, but not in a room. There are other rules, http://www.gq.com/style/style-guy/accessories/200305/hat-etiquette, but I have simplified them for me to be: Do what feels right.

      The Big T doesn’t quite grasp the concept of head wear. Or baseball. He does like swimming in the ocean though so I’m designating him as a fan of the Portland Sea Dogs, the AA affiliate of the Red Sox.

      Fedorable? I like it.

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