The Secret of Baseball Caps

My wife, Beth, and I were at Wal-Mart the other day. While walking the sacred bargain hunter aisles of this rich company she stopped at the ladies hat department. It wasn’t just any old flowery, high sitting, fancy, church going hat department. This was the sporty, young, modern, ubiquitous, baseball cap department. Ladies only please. There she found a nice plain green baseball cap that precisely matched her shirt and shorts. To top it off, it was cheap! This started a conversation about caps. I needed a new baseball cap.

When we started our trip to the USA I carefully found my Atlanta Braves baseball cap and stuffed it in the suitcase. Someone should root for my birthplace teams and my Bengals cap had long ago taken up refuge in an Austrian dump. I’ve had this cap for a few years. It took that long to finally make it ready for regular use.

The brim is carefully sculpted to shield my eyes from the sun while allowing full view to scope out whatever passes my way. The head band is softened by gallons of sweat leaving a beautiful white growth working its way upward toward the top. There is a splotch of dirt here, grease there, perfect customization to make the cap a keeper.

2007_05_23_hat When we landed and I pulled it out of the suitcase all Beth said was, “Yuk! You’re not really gonna wear that, are you?” I gave her a broad smile and donned my cap to provide a little extra protection where my hair used to be sufficient. I adjusted the brim down around my tri-focal glasses and marched out the door with shoulders held high. A good baseball cap is the crown of any true man.

After Beth found her matching cap in Wally World she remembered I needed a new cap. I had to agree, I needed a new Reds cap. We were living Covington and I needed to support the local favorites. Growing up in the area helped spur my sense of heritage and faithfulness to the team. Granted, living overseas I have no idea of their standing and couldn’t name two players on the team if my life depended on it. But, that was immaterial.

Beth suggested I get a nice cap that matched my shirt. I looked at her like she was from Venus, shook my head and shouted, “WHAT? You’ve got to be kidding!” She just didn’t understand the Tao of a man’s baseball cap.

Matching has nothing to do with why or which cap a true man buys. It’s all about devotion. It’s all about faithfulness. It’s all about the soda you drink, the car you drive, the gun you shoot, the faith you proclaim. Colors, even in a Mary Kay world, have nothing to do with a man’s baseball cap. It’s a rite of passage. It’s a symbol of what you are or could become. It’s a crown declaring something about your character.

Every bit of dirt, each grease stain has a history. The sweat stain shows energy, effort, and accomplishment. It’s like scars. We don’t remove ‘em. We don’t hide ‘em. We bear them proudly and hope someone will nonchalantly ask us where they came from. Even the passerby who looks closely at the hat begs the question, “What is that you’re wearin’?”

When the question comes we slowly remove the cap from our head and look at it with wonder and affection. We dust off the brim and stare into space as if we were contemplating the meaning of the universe. Then we square our shoulders, smile and begin the tale of our heroic exploits which always culminate in saving truth, justice, and the American way. Of course, other true men know this and avoid talking about or looking closely at another’s cap so they don’t have to come up with a bigger, better tale. Or worse yet, must listen to the story.

We left the store with her new, little, matching cap. She looks cute in the cap. That’s what I like about it. If she hadn’t pointed out it matched her outfit I probably wouldn’t have noticed. I left without a cap. Next week I’d be going to the ball park for a Reds game. I figured I’d find a real cap then and begin the long process of breakin’ it in and developing the necessary exploits of daring and do.

Ladies, enjoy your matching caps. You look cute and cuddly like women should. Guys, don’t let the ladies corral you into wearing some non-descript, dry cleaned, bland, say nuthin’ cap. Express yourself. Pick carefully, break it in properly and then wear it proudly. When someone stops you on the street or in the coffee shop and asks about your cap just say,. “I’m glad you asked. There’s quite a story about this here cap . . ..”

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