Monday, August 03, 2009


If you're just joining the party, my last two columns were devoted to my girlfriend's failed attempts at getting me to dress like a proper and upstanding member of society (or, as I like to refer to it, a preppy loser.) When my girlfriend was on her good-natured "let's-improve-the-boy" kick, she brought up one other concern as to my wardrobe -- and it's something very close to my heart. Well, actually it's something very close to my head.

To understand, we need a flashback to the distant land of 1983, where epic decisions awaited a wee junior-high Shane.

It's about this age that I began to transform into the mature, forward-thinking, career-minded professional that you know and love today. After carefully investigating, analyzing, and researching all of the options laid before me by the world, I decided at age 12 that the most prudent vocation to set my sights and training towards was, clearly, that of ROCK STAR DRUMMER.

Here was an occupation that promised all of the perks of gainful employment that I was concerned about, such as a progressive atmosphere of teamwork fostering professional relationships with colleagues such as the smokin' hot girl in the "Rio" video who dances on the sand just like that river twisting through the dusty land.

After having been evaluated for multiple instruments back in middle school, the band teachers decided that my natural aptitude for melody, harmony, notes and scales made me best suited to bang on noisy objects with sticks. Despite my musical shortcomings, by the time I had reached junior high, I was first chair concert/marching snare with dreams of rock & roll greatness. But the four of us in the percussion section knew that junior high band was small potatoes of "boom-tap-tap, boom-tap-tap" until we reached the big show: high school marching band.

Back in Galesburg in the 80's, our high school band was the stuff of legend. They won awards, they did routines, and their drummers were the coolest people we had ever seen. How cool? So cool that, during football games, instead of wearing foot-tall marching band hats like the rest of the band, they got to wear whatever hats they wanted. One of the dudes wore a fedora, another guy got to wear a leather newsboy cap. They were the rebels of the band, the zenith of cool, and the epicenter of everything my 12-year-old heart wanted to be.

At the same time, I was developing my own tastes in contemporary music. Having been brought up in a very pro-music house, my weekly allowance back then was already being efficiently routed safely to the hands of Musicland, and my growing collection of cassette tapes was my pride and joy. I didn't know much at age 12, but boy, did I know music. I was such an expert, in fact, that I looked at all the artists in the pantheon of rock history, and proudly announced to everyone I knew that The Greatest Rock Band To Ever Walk Upon The Face of the Earth was... the JoBoxers.

In retrospect, probably not the brightest thing to say. This was, after all, a band whose ultimate musical legacy left to the world was the two singles "Just Got Lucky" and "She's Got Sex." At least I know where my 12-year-old mind was at the time. But I promise you, for a 1983 heartbeat, the JoBoxers were pretty rad. As I watched them prance about on MTV (and oh, prance they did) in their suspenders and caps, I wanted to be a JoBoxer with all my heart. I wanted to just get lucky, too, whatever that meant. I wanted the suspenders. I wanted the cap.

Wait a tick... the JoBoxers were cool, and so were the high school drummers. And what was the common thread uniting the two? They all wore HATS. Instantly a plan went into motion. I, too, would get a cool-guy cap. Then I would be the cool rock-&-roll rebel who just got lucky. Only one problem.

I am the proud owner of an elephantine skull of enormous magnitude. I've long bragged that it's to hold my enormous brains, but the truth is that I'm just kind of a freak. Let's just say there was a reason I was born via C-section. Even in junior high, they were already having to custom order my size XXXL marching band hat. Just my luck -- I find the ultimate answer to coolness and can't find one to fit my obscenely huge head.

It's twenty-five years later. The JoBoxers went the way of the dodo, and high school band lost its lustre after discovering they held daily practice at 6 a.m. Still, my obsession with ill-fitting hats remains. There's seldom a time that I pass a cap in a store without flipping it over in hopes that it'll happen to be a XXXL wide. In college, I found one that was. I was broke at the time, but lived off ramen noodles for a week to afford it. And I wore it every day until it honestly starting molting. If you don't believe it, check my closet today - I can't bear to toss it.

But thanks to the internet, I've found my home away from home -- Big Hats for Big Heads. I've been an ardent supporter for years, and now have an arsenal of XXXL caps at the ready: newsboy caps, driving caps, Gatsbys, and my pride and joy: my Greek fisherman's cap. I have two, actually: wool for the winter, cotton for the summer. I wear the heck out of caps.

Naturally, my girlfriend hates them. This time, though, I kinda know why: they're pretty much ugly. I know that my Greek fisherman's cap makes me look less like a JoBoxer and more like a pudgy Captain in desperate search of his Tennille. And it's not like I need them to cover receding hair - that's one thing that genetics has so far blessed me with.

I can't explain why I continue to wear the silly things. They're just my trademark. I like wearing caps, and ptooey on you if you're not onboard. I may look like a giant dork, but somewhere in the back of my brain, there's still that 12-year-old who can finally be the drumming JoBoxer of his dreams.

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