The hat maker

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I always remember late August and early September as a time of being cold. Not this year, this year the weather has been exceptionally good but when I think back, this time of year is a time of being cold. When I was younger I used to do outdoor theater in the evening the last two weeks of August and there was always at least one evening when we had to cancel due to bad weather and heavy rain. The weather had to be really bad for us to cancel, just a little rain was not enough, it had to be bad. On one or two occasions over the years we also had to stop mid-play because it was impossible to go on anymore.

In the first scene of the play some of us, mostly girls, were dressed in cotton tunics and the rest, mostly boys, wore thick woolen capes. We were standing backstage just before the plays was about to begin, it was about eight o’clock and we, tunics wearing ones, were freezing so bad. This made for an arrangement where most of us picked someone of the cape wearing crowd to share a cape with. A few glorious moments where you were finally a little warm and also had the opportunity to be close to someone you might think a little cute. And also the opposite, a chance to help a damsel in distress, or at least a cold actress, by offering her to get in under your cape with you. Then the play started and you had to leave that cozy cape and the sometimes cute cape wearer but once on stage you usually forgot about the cold (until you had to kneel in a puddle).

After the week of theater was done we had a big party and when the older actors went home to their warm beds, the younger ones stayed out to continue the party all night (which usually meant that we hung out on a playground singing children’s and other songs together and occasionally tried some peppermint schnapps. We all smelled very fresh after that). Those nights were also very cold.

One year I had a crush on someone in the group and I thought that this party would be a good time to try to get close to that person. I did what you do when you’re 19 and you just want someone to put their arm around you; I mentioned that I was freezing. And most young men would have seen a chance to put an arm around a girl because when you are 19 you can’t express your want for a little closeness in any other way than to play this little game. Unfortunately for me (and probably for him too) this person was a scout and very pragmatic, he told me to put on a hat and left it at that. I didn’t have a hat and that night me and a friend of mine had to go to sleep in socks and sweaters over our pajamas under the bedcover because we had been out for too long in the cold and not dressed properly.

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A human being radiates most of its heat from the head so the advice to wear a hat was not bad at all but perhaps not the one that I wanted to hear at that time. Usually the hat premier is the Culture Night, the second Saturday in September every year. It’s hard to dress for that day because when you leave home in the afternoon it’s not that cold at all, but you will be out till late I the evening when it’s really chilly. Add crowded places wherever you go and that you really don’t want to carry too much. This means that you’re either sweaty or cold and, especially teenagers (or at least the teenagers that I knew when I was a teenager myself), prefer being cold in front of sweaty. A hat is the answer, it’s small so you can bring it with you and it really helps against the cold even if it doesn’t take care of it all. This plan to dress appropriately on the Culture Night is something that I have developed over the years. This year was the 25th Culture Night and I have probably been enjoying about 24 of them (I missed a year when I lived in France). I have experience (granted that I myself might not have choosen my clothes for at least five of them, you’re not that good at making wise dress choices when you’re three).

This year I’ve hurried to make sure to finish both mine and Julle’s hats before Culture Night. My beret has been done for a week but I weaved in the ends on Julle’s hat this morning, right before he left the house. I was meeting my mun and my aunt, the day was beautiful and warm and we went to a sing along with songs from the 19th century. We had a marvelous time, I got credit for being able to sing, read the song book and knit at the same time, we had coffee at an outdoor café and we continued our cultural efforts around town. When it was getting darker it also became chillier and I put on my hat.

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Later in the evening I met up with Julle, who had just experienced his first Culture Night. He was pleased but a little cold and I advised him to put on his hat. I turned out he had left it at home, hidden on top of the hat rack behind the bicycle helmet. Ah, what a rookie mistake, but you’ll get there next year, honey!