All I want for Christmas — a hat for Harry
All I want for Christmas is a hat. Truly. Okay, and a pair of knitted worsted socks from Mammy. But, firstly — and mostly — a cool hat. A quiff hat. My pen poised above my Christmas list, I was a tad uneasy writing “quiff hat” on the first line, especially after Dearest Duck mussed the few remaining strands on my noggin and said, “Harry, my erstwhile curlylocked honey, are you sure there’s such a thing as a quiff hat?” “Pappy wore a quiff hat,” said I. “Yes,” said Dearest Duck, “I know men’s hats were called quiff hats, but was that just a made-up name, a colloquialism, maybe?”
“P’raps the little feather tucked in the band was called a quiff. Like a miniature plume or something.”
“I don’t think so,” said Dearest Duck. “You might reconsider for the sake of accuracy. You wouldn’t want Santa Claus to be embarrassed at Ye Olde Men’s Millinery Christmas Shoppe when filling his sack.”
Ever a wise woman, Dearest Duck left me thinking about quiff hats. I figured it a smart move to spend a smidgen of time in Mr. Google’s library browsing dictionaries. I keyed in quiff… …and was immediately relieved Dearest Duck, albeit as wise as Solomon the Sage in the Bible, was no longer at my shoulder.
Quiff: a promiscuous woman, especially in the realm where creaky ol’ Queen Liz II — she of the many splendiferous bonnets! — reigns. I scrolled to the second entry. Ah, more like it. Quiff: a hank of hair combed in a high wave above the forehead. Kinda like Elvis, I s’pose. According to Mr. Google’s lexicon, the fancy word for said high-styled ‘do is pompadour.
So, I reckon if a man had his hair combed into a coil resembling a windblown lop, if he had his topknot moulded into a pompadour — a quiff — he could hang his hat on it. Hence, a quiff hat. Like my wavy-haired Pappy wore. Like those suave guys in black and white movies wore.
Like the snap-brimmed toppers donned by legendary gangsters — Pretty Boy Floyd and others such as dapper Johnny Dillinger, I s’pose.
Unlike the silly slued-around caps of unkempt gangstas.
“My Duck,” I called … well, I called excitedly hoping Dearest Duck would drop whatever less important thing she was doing and scurry in a flash to investigate my excitement.
Minutes passed before Dearest Duck hove into view.
“Look,” said I, nodding at my computer monitor, at the window into Mr. Google’s house. “See what quiff means.”
After a quick study of the word, Dearest Duck said, “Okay, a quiff hat … like a fedora.” “Fedora?” “Yes, Harry, my mad-hatter honey, that’s the proper name for those hats.”
Energized, or whatever, I snatched up my Christmas list and scribbled, “Santa, please bring me a fedora.” “Harry…” “What, my Duck? Wearing my snazzy quiff fedora I’ll look handsome enough to hug.”
“Oh my,” said Dearest Duck. “I’m going back to my knitting and allow you time to ponder the importance of nomenclature.” “Huh?” “Think about the likely reason those chapeaux were called quiff hats.”
[Look at Dearest showing off her bit of French. Chapeaux, for frig sake.]
So, like Poe at midnight, I pondered weak and weary. Quiff. A flicked-back forelock. Quiff hat. A hat hung on a hairy noggin … and possibly cocked sexily over one eye like Bogart playing a debonair detective in a film noir. [Ha, Dearest, you’re not the only one who knows a word or deux of French.]
Shortly, my pondering paid off … and crushed my Christmas dream. In my mind’s eye I saw reality — my pate as bare as a Christmas platter on Bobby Cratchit’s table.
Alack and alas, I had no quiff on which to hook my hat.
But hey. Consider Leonard Cohen. An octogenarian, he’s still singing, and, nowadays, wearing a trademark fedora. The last picture I saw of him hatless, his skull was shaved as close to the scalp as a Buddhist monk’s. Not a whole lot of quiff on his bony braincase.
So, why not I? Handsome Harry sporting his quiffy fedora!
To be safe though, I amended my Christmas list: “Dear Santa, please bring me a quiff hat, a fedora just like Leonard’s. If not, kindly substitute a toque.” Thank you for reading. Merry Christmas!
— Harold Walters lives Happily Ever After in Dunville, in the only Canadian province with its own time zone. How cool is that? Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.