All I want for Christ­mas — a hat for Harry

The Compass - - OPINION -

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 gh­wal­

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