You know what the difference is between men and women?
Hats. That’s right, hats. Or… maybe that’s just me and Widdle.
Let me explain.
In one of my frequent thrift-shop forays a few weeks ago, I snagged a jaunty straw fedora accented with a tropical-leaf hatband. Nothing flamboyant, just cute and summer-ish. I took it home, placed it atop one of the lamps on my dresser and forgot about it. (And there’s another difference: Lamps. Men simply want light, and if it comes from a bare ceiling bulb with a 2-foot frayed string attached, that’s fine. Women want ambience, which is why 99 percent of all lamps are bought by women. Prove me wrong!)
Back to the hat. One day I decided to wear my hair down to run errands. Instead of pulling on a baseball cap (pink, khaki, green and my fave, Carolina blue), I plopped on the fedora and ran out the door. I went to the supermarket and the car dealership and at each place people complimented me on my hat. I felt downright stylish, which only happens once every 15 years.
I mentioned this to Widdle that night. My exact words were: “I wore a hat today and it was cute!” He gave me a funny sidelong look, but said nothing.
Fast-forward a couple of weeks. It was Sunday. We were going for brunch and then run errands. We spend a lot of time running errands. I wore Bermuda shorts, a sleeveless blouse, espadrilles and… my hat.
Widdle took one look and said, “Please don’t wear that hat.”
“Why?” I was outraged.
“I don’t like you in that hat,” he said, calmly.
“Too bad, brother,” I said.
“Fine,” he shrugged. But then these words actually came out his mouf: “You look like Bessie the mule in that hat.”
Bessie the mule pulled our sight-seeing carriage when we were in the Bahamas. She sported a pink straw hat. No woman—listen closely--no woman wants to be compared to a mule in any way, shape or form. I think my husband knows this now.
After the smoke cleared I said, “Let me get this straight. You like me without makeup--when I look like a zombie--but not with this hat.”
“Pretty much,” he said.
I will never understand men. Of course, I’m married to the only husband in captivity who says, “You need a haircut,” and “Why don’t you get a pedicure? I’ll pay.”
Okay, first of all, my feets look fine—a smooth size 5 with toenails painted a pearly coral. Second of all, I don’t like being touched by strangers, or people I don’t have a history with. The idea of someone, even Mother Teresa, crouched over my feet for 30 minutes gives me hives.
I do actually understand where Widdle’s coming from, sort of. I like the way he looks in cargo shorts, flip-flops and a button-down shirt, untucked. The untucked part is very important. Sometimes he sports a full beard, sometimes a snazzy van dyke. I don’t much care which it is because A) It’s his face, not mine and B) Either way he looks like Ernest Hemingway, which is so cool.
Again, back to the hat. With Widdle’s brutal honesty still stinging, I sailed the hat on the bed, put my hair up in a clip and stalked outside. I haven’t worn it since, even when he’s not around. So much for feeling stylish every 15 years.
But at least I’m not pulling a carriage full of tourists.
Julie R. Smith, who’s wearing out that UNC baseball cap, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.