The true Enthusiast is a loyal customer, and believes in supporting the small business, even if that business is run by a leering pervert (Creepy Ernie’s House of Unacceptable Trousers;) a raging maniac with access to an alternate dimension of instruments (Hateful Ed’s Guitar Center of Misfit Toys;) or a well-hung stylist who, through no fault of her own, made you feel weird about your sexuality for a few days (Big-Dicked Sheila’s Hair Salon for Rock Stars and Their Ilk.)
Luckily, all the stores are located in the same shopping center right in the heart of the city’s newest up-and-coming neighborhood, Little Aleppo, which hasn’t had a cholera outbreak in weeks. (If you round up liberally.)
Getting there is half the fun (but almost 90% of the danger) as no public transport goes to the area after the residents kept hijacking buses and jousting with them. An Uber request for a ride to Foreign Bathroom Square (the heart of Little Aleppo, named after losing Civil War colonel Foreign Bathroom Lee) results in the app deleting itself from your phone. The subways also neglect the area, as the station filled with C.H.U.D.s the moment it was opened.
Walking is your best bet, but wear your sturdiest shoes, which will almost certainly be stolen once (if) you arrive. Right upfront: the route involves crossing elevated freeways on foot. You also need to scamper up and down a few embankments, some of which are protected by Hobo Kings. You will have to solve their riddles.
Once in the general location, it’s straight down Skid Row for two miles. Left on Lonely Street. Right on the Avenue of No Children. Duck through Crime Alley. At some point, you will hear glass bottles being clinked together and an invitation to come and play: do not accept this offer, as there is a devious, denim-vested intent underlying it.
And there you are, at the oldest and most respected of Little Aleppo’s shops: C.C.H. Pounder’s Headcoverings for Customers Willing to Leave their Foolishness at the Door. In her shop, Ms. Pounder was in charge: she was the judge, the chief of police, the head physician. A lot of the time, she was the boss of a secret government agency. She also did the books, the ordering, and the window design.
If you were respectful, well-mannered, and above-board in your business dealings, C.C.H. Pounder could put just about anything on your head: baseball cap; beanie; beanie with propellor beanie with outboard motor; motorcycle helmet; bicycle helmet; unicycle helmet (same as a bicycle helmet, but with no chance of getting laid;) bandana, knot in back like biker or gang member from an 80’s action flick; bandana, knot in the front like black lady from South or gay Puerto Rican guy from the Bronx; bandana with the knots in each corner, dunked in the sea at Blackpool, set atop head.
There were yarmulkes, kufis, mitres, wimples, zucchettos, executioner’s cloaks, wedding veils, hard hats, sheitels, war bonnets, surgical masks, dunce caps, army helmet, marching band shakos. Any head covering that symbolized duty, or the discourse of power, or the coming of the end. Any hat someone didn’t want to put on. There were also those football helmets with cup holders on the side for beer and flexi-straws so you could just sip your bye-bye juice like a giant failure-baby; I think we’ll all agree that if there were such a thing as “opposites” in hats, then the beer-hat and the executioner’s cloak are it.*
She has hats no white people could ever wear to a party without getting in trouble: sombreros, turbans, rasta-dude caps. There were also hats that only white people could pull off, such as the deerstalker, the coonskin cap, and the pith helmet. C.C.H. Pounder will not point out that the white-guy hats are all inextricably linked to violence and colonialism: she is here today for the purposes of commerce, not foolishness.
Fedoras could be purchased, though C.C.H. Pounder would attempt to talk the fellow (it was always a fellow) out of it. Even if you do have the genetic structure for a fedora,** they look ridiculous if you’re the only one wearing them. men looked cool in the old pictures because all of them were wearing hats. By themselves, fedoras are silly and make you look like a dick with a tiny head, but if everyone’s wearing one, then there’s herd immunity.
You could get the headbands that the Dead so often donned, Phil and Mickey especially. There were so many different kinds of headband to choose from. You had your classic stretchy terrycloth, but it turned out that their luxurious thickness was a strike against them: the ‘bands would block the sun out and leave huge pale roads across your forehead. A fox told Phil his forehead looked like “a television that lost its vertical hold.”
* It might be unfair to put the hard hat in there with those others: the hard hat is a positive thing. Sure, if you wear one, then you don’t look forward to putting it on in the morning, but it’s better than the old system, which was dying.
** Jon Hamm and Danny DeVito can wear the fuck out fedoras. You have to be perfectly rectangular or round to make a fedora† look good.
† First person to say “trilby” in the comments gets banned for life. They’re fedoras. (Possibly fedorae.)