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What I Discovered about Hats

by Stephen Sossaman

            During the COVID lockdown, my new friends Carl and Bonnie were as bothered as the rest of us in our claustrophobic studio apartments. Bonnie was a screenwriter and thinker, a woman who at times needs to be not interrupted, but Carl was a talker. So Bonnie began to wear a baseball cap with an enso Zen symbol as a do-not-disturb signal, and Carl learned to respect that. He likewise started wearing a Visit Napa Valley hat in the late afternoon to ask Bonnie, without speaking, if she would like a glass of wine.

            As for their weekly sexual time away from TV, the fun really began with hats. They had each been into role-playing during sex, but without actually letting the other know what or whom they were thinking about. Freud said there were always four people present during intercourse, but sometimes he might have undercounted.

            Without planning or negotiation, Bonnie and Carl revealed their chosen roles for the night with the hat each wore. Both had the delightful suspense and surprise of seeing what role the other would play. Carl would exit the apartment, put on a hat he had kept hidden, and ring the bell. Bonnie would put on a hat that she had kept secret, and open the door. Then, some quick thinking and improvising.

            “Carl missed all of his callings,” Bonnie told me. “He would have made a great evangelist. Or plumber.”

Even when otherwise naked, they kept the hats on. The local dollar store never closed despite COVID, and their baseball cap bin was inspirational. When Bonnie and Carl used the internet for sex, it was just to buy hats.

            Before they met, Bonnie told me, she and Carl had very little success in role-playing, whether pretending to be dutiful children, serious college students, or motivated employees. But hat sex was fun and easy, usually. Carl, wearing a police union cap, sees that she is wearing a black beret. Assume the position, anarchist, and let the pat-down begin. Sometimes the sex was boring, or awkward, like when they discovered they were wearing identical Daffy Duck hats.

            The real trouble happened, and the game and the relationship were nearly abandoned, when one night she wore a Stop the Steal cap and he wore a Code Pink cap. They quarreled all night long. This confrontation seriously shook her faith in democracy, and tested his belief in civility.

            Bonnie told me all this yesterday when we met for lunch drinks. She came into the bar sporting a sparkly pink Just Do It hat.

            “I need adventure,” she said when we stood up to leave. I put on my own hat, and Bonnie just laughed. Stupid me, my baseball cap said Ask Me About Annuities.