What — oh, this old thing? I practically forgot I was wearing it. Like Beyoncé, I just woke up like this: hair blown out, make-up on, dressed like Mother Earth’s mother in a Tyler Perry movie. Someone at the grocery store (more on that later) asked if I’d been swarmed by bees, and I said no, bees like flowers, not 30 pounds of hot glue and polyester.
This is the story of a hat.
A few weeks back, the fox and the catbear threw a Frida Kahlo party for their magical Aunt Lala – who had journeyed from an exotic, faraway land called Central Florida – so I made Frida-inspired floral headpieces for everyone to wear. The summer party was everything one hopes for in a gathering: lovely friends, weather, rooftop deck, laughs, unibrows. Sous vide pork and sweet sangria. A solid group selfie no one openly hated.
Aunt Lala kept her flowers and I took the rest home. The next day I got up, donned a large floral headband, and did the dishes in my pajamas. The absurdity of that tiny moment – the two-second pause right before thinking, ‘Well – why the fuck not?’ and then adorning myself with a crown of flowers like some kind of living Snapchat filter – made me grin all day until my cheek muscles hurt. Doing chores that day was fun. Out of the blue, I actually chortled, something I thought was reserved for really old British academics.
Turns out I’ve been a tiny bit blue, and wearing a bright pile of happy colors on my head for no special reason has been a nice antidote to that. It’s so silly, and simple in execution. Wear this flowery chaos upon thy head, brooding daughter of Antheia, and turn that foul summer spirit around.
So I rotated headbands, and wore them most days: On a walk. To the beach. At a Starbucks, and a party. Then for my monthly lab work at the downtown Polyclinic. I can now say, with total authority, that getting blood drawn and peeing in a cup while wearing a crown isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. I wonder how Beyoncé does it.
People stared, mostly men. Women complimented me in a but I would never do that tone. Children pointed, but happy pointing. An old lady in a wheelchair shook her head at me but couldn’t stop staring. When I asked if she wanted to try it on, I could tell she thought I was Loony Tunes.
A sane person would never wear this, her face said to me.
Do I look overburdened with sanity to you? my face screamed back. I was outside of Rite-Aid in the parking lot, looking wildly untethered. From the neck up, I was a fierce fertility goddess a-bloom in Spring; from the neck down, I was someone’s lumpy mom in cake-themed pajamas, hugging a giant barrel of cheese puffs and looking like a confused, middle-aged centaur. In that moment, I remembered this Edgar Allan Poe quote: “I became insane, with long intervals of horrible sanity.” Sanity is boring, I thought. Sanity never inspires me to create.
“Don’t be crazy now,” the old woman said before rolling away. She stopped to talk with another woman, and they both looked back at me. I flushed with the humiliation of being looked at instead of being seen; it felt like ripping off a Band-Aid from my entire body and holding a magnifying glass to my skin. I briefly considered following her home and lightly setting her house on fire – like yeah, who’s crazy now??? – but knew the retelling of this story would be less than optimal for me. ‘Elderly Woman In Wheelchair Stalked By Unhinged Wreath-Wearing Arsonist’ would be a difficult headline to explain to any prospective future employers. “The woman in custody was covered from head to toe in a foreign substance that would later be identified as cheese ball dust.” What a proud moment that could have been.
I felt judged by those two women but wasn’t sure why it affected me so. Wearing the flowers honestly made me feel like a badass — like the Wonder to my own Woman with high levels of IDGAF — but to those ladies, I was just extra weird. I wanted to shout NONE OF YOU HAVE YOUR SHIT TOGETHER, EITHER, I’M JUST WILLING TO TAKE MY SHIT FOR A WALK SOMETIMES — but I didn’t want to end up on YouTube.
We’ve been facing some life stuff lately (less Catastrophic Event, more Shit Is Piling Up) and I’ve wanted to do what comes most natural – hide – but hibernating during a Seattle summer is like living in a self-made prison. Prison in winter? Perfect. Let’s eat meat pies and cry in the dark. Prison in sunny July? No. That ice cream isn’t going to eat itself.
Instead of hiding, I’ve just been wearing an alarming amount of flowers in my hair. Perhaps this is some kind of Polynesian gateway drug – soon I’ll be drinking kava and shimmying up a palm tree, then going on an ocean-wide musical adventure with a legendary demigod voiced by The Rock.
For Pride this year, I was determined to wear something fun beyond the usual rainbow-themed t-shirt. I thought about wearing one of the floral pieces to Pride Brunch the next day, but felt like I needed something Dorothy herself would approve of. In the end, I decided to transform the shit out of every flower in my house into ONE ENORMOUS HAT OF FLORAL DOOM.
Three edibles, four hours, and five sticks of hot glue later: voila. A hat that would make Voltron proud. A hat that wouldn’t look too out of place in My Fair Lady. A hat that would horrify any well-trained chiropractor.
I wore that sort-of hat to Pride Brunch, where it was well-received, and then to the grocery store. One checker said, “Ooh, you look like My Fair Lady!” (POINTS) and the other one inquired about bees. A little girl came up to me and asked if there were butterflies on my hat. I bent down and took it off, showing her where they were hidden. She looked at me with shiny little eyes and smiled.
“When I grow up, I’m going to wear a princess dress with pants and trucker boots and an astronaut helmet with butterfly stickers and I’m going to have a cat who is secretly a pirate!” she said. I gave her a high-five, which paled in comparison to what I wanted to do: Hug her. Glitterbomb her. Throw her a giant cat parade. Give an afterschool special monologue about being yourself and finding your own solutions in a world that fucking sucks sometimes and not caring when old ladies judge you for wearing whatever makes you happy.
If wearing a princess dress with pants and trucker boots and an astronaut helmet with butterfly stickers makes you feel good, then rock that shit, little girl. No one who matters is going to judge you, not even a cat that is secretly a pirate.