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Sunday, June 17, 2012

*About Black Fedoras And Summer Sunday Rides With My Father

He knew how to wear a hat.

Trust me... that’s not always an easy (hat-) trick, when you’re a Black man, trying *not* to look like a pimp, a mack, a dandy, a fop or a player. My father was neither of those, yet he could rock a mean hat. Some cats just have it like that, instinctively.

My father possessed that uniquely smooth and utterly rare gift of slipping on a chapeau and becoming this cool and mysteriously enigmatic character. Though barely 5’8, he always stood taller in his fedora. It seemed as if his posture changed and he became this whole other Larger Being… at least, in my eyes.

I was discussing this phenom with my mom yesterday, as we were approaching yet another Father’s Day without his presence. Because his absence remains very much a FELT experience, she seemed determined to remember to be sad. And while I could only validate that emotion for her, an extended appointment with sadness was not placed upon my schedule. Instead, I spoke of a certain bronze-colored Oldsmobile Delta 88; how my father would take the family for long rides on summer Sunday afternoons, and how, from the backseat, in his fedora, he resembled some quietly Elegant Black King to my eyes.

When he died there inside that ER, a nurse brought his possessions into the waiting room. Perhaps she thought it would be too much for my mother to handle, so she signaled me into a quiet corner and she handed me his gold retirement watch, and his wedding band.

I tried like hell not to breakdown, fall to my knees, and weep like some little suddenly fatherless child, especially there in that setting. Although my brother publicly lost it, I'd somehow retained my stoic older bother composure. It was a very strange and rainy December day. It felt even stranger to me, holding those articles in my hand, as if the were supposed to somehow now represent this man I’d fondly called, “Da.”

A day or so after this, in a quieter, less hectic moment, I presented those articles to my mother. I hugged her tightly and for the longest time. Mind you, I still hadn’t cried, but I’d been meaning to. Curiously, that time would come much later.

After the funeral and after all the guests, after the food was consumed, and the stories were told, and the emotions displayed, after the hubbub and the shows of sympathy, when everything sat quietly in its own haunted space, my mother asked if wanted anything of my father’s.

I thought for a minute about the car (which never was my style) and the clothes (ditto, and were way too small), and finally, I said,

“You know that black fedora? The one he wore back in the day when he’d take us on those Sunday drives? I think I’d like to have that hat.”

Maybe it seemed like a peculiarly atypical request. But then, that was just me, being me. I was always her ‘strange poet son,’ and so she just shrugged, went into the closet they’d shared for over 35 years, fetched that hat, and she handed it to me.

I’ve placed it upon the top shelf in my closet. I hardly ever wear it. Over the years, I’ve thought of it as a kind of trophy to the modesty of his life, his quiet elegance; his one slice of mysterious cool, and his subtle sense of royalty.

And so, on Father’s Day, in lieu of tears, and instead of episodes in sadness, I slipped on that black fedora, and tried like hell to mirror my father’s style-- not pimp, not mack, not player, not fop, not dandy.

You know, just a Black man, in a black chapeau, with a smooth gift for becoming a cool and mysteriously enigmatic character.


That’s it. That’s all.

Happy Father’s Day to all you father’s out there, whether bio, step, adoptive, cat daddies or big daddies… and a Very Happy Father’s Day in Heaven to YOU, Da.

One Love.

Your son,


* repost


Mizrepresent said...

What a wonderful tribute. I loved this so much. A month ago when i was cleaning out my mom's house for her final move to my house. I found my fathers fedora in a box, and like you this is what i wanted. I took it into the bathroom and tried it on, see i always wanted to rock a mens fedora. Afterwards i placed it back in it's box, to be worn another day! Thanks for sharing this wonderful story with the world. Happy Fathers Day to all!

Princess Tinybutt said...

wow, sounds like my dad and his hats. thank god he's still around. what beauty you shared. thanks.
- ang

Val said...

That, Lin, was without a doubt the most heartfelt post I've ever read from you. In my mind's eye I could see your dad driving that Delta 88 with that black fedora on and a small you sitting in the backseat.

Thanks for sharing, Lin.

♥ CG ♥ said...

Lin, not sure if it matters to you, but I love you. For so many reasons, and as you know, this without even knowing you personally. Love you because you pierce emotions and memories that not only revive me based on the good, happy moments but also connect the seemingly lonesome experiences I've had to ones you've gone through. Your sharing makes me hold tight to the significance of a friend being someone who's life closely mirrors that of yours and who can uplift you and make you see both sides of every experience.

Believe it or not, I had to hold back the tears because I also called my daddy "Da", could finesse a fedora and he seemed 10 feet tall at times but was barely 5'8" They left us with such rich memories that while the longing for them to be present never goes away, some days we can relive the good times by recalling what made them special to us.

I said all this to say...thanks!

Moanerplicity said...

@ Miz:

Thank YOU for sharing, Sista Pen.

You know, ordinarily, I would get just a little *creeped* out wanting or wearing anything, any article of clothing owned by someone who has passed on, but NOT my da's stuff, especially that fedora. Hard to say why, & doesn't suddenly bring him alive for me, but it holds such a warm vibe of good memories & quiet pride. I guess that's what makes it feel so special.

And you're more than welcome, my friend.


Moanerplicity said...

@ Ang:

Thanks for stopping by. Glad you could relate. Yup, some of our fathers possessed a genuine sense of style, & they often reflected it in their choise of hats. *smiles*

Enjoy your vacation!


Moanerplicity said...

@ Val:

Thanks so much, Valentina. Memories of Da most definitely massage my emotional sweet spot, as such I rarely speak of him or share stories about him w/ anyone other than close family members.

I guess I wanted readers to know a piece of him & to get a small idea of where I come from.

Good to know that you appreciated it.


Moanerplicity said...

@ CG:

Awwwwww. Reading your comment brought a strange moisture to my eyes. I LOVE YOU too, MaMi.

I didn't KNOW you called your beloved father "Da" as well. Wow! Just wow. That only draws me closer to you & it feels as if I understand you better, b/c we've shared that 'Da' experience.

Maybe it's generational, but isn't it ironic that our fathers & men of a certain age were able to ROCK a fedora w/ such style & ease? I almost envy that quality.

If this entry made you feel something deep or soft, or evoked some quietly pleasant memory of your 'Da', then I am more than pleased.

Thanks so much for your comment, CG.

One Love.


Roger Poladopoulos said...

My blogger brother (and one of my favorite authors), you always manage to find the perfect way to express what many of us feel and remember on Father's Day. Thank you for sharing this. I printed this and sent it to Pops. He loved it!

Moanerplicity said...

@ Roger:

Wow! Thanks so much, man. Whenever something so personal can also be universal, it pleases as a writer & a fellow earthling. I'm glad you enjoyed this piece. Wishing a belated Happy Father's Day to your Pops!


Anna Renee said...

A beautiful tribute, Lin. Men of that era really knew how to wear a hat, and your Da's hat is gorgeous.

Lately, I've been thinking of my own father. ALOT. He passed in 2006. We didn't have a real relationship, the type a daughter would want with her father.

Sometimes I want to sit down with my mother and ask her about her relationship with my father, the deeper stuff, but she's not one for going over emotional stuff. I imagine that speaking about it would be for her.

There was something my father told me, that I have held on to, tho. He wanted me to be a psychologist. He used to brag about his brother's daughter becoming an MD whenever I saw him. I imagine he wanted to be able to brag about me being a psychologist. Alas, there was no money to send me to college.

But I do love encouraging folks, tho. I believe my father spoke that into my spirit from his own.

Blessings to you B.E.

Moanerplicity said...

@ A.M.

Thank you for sharing that intimate part of your past.

I firmly believe that men who are bio fathers & who fail to forge positive relationships w/ their seed suffer from a Special Loneliness. I've seen it in my own family: a sideways glance or a forlorn wistful expression that registers as some kind of private pain. These men miss out on so much LIFE, & a part of them MUST realize this, but perhaps, in some cases, a past of neglect or of acrimony can not be fixed. Those fractures remain, even after they've made their transition. Sad.

But it seems your father DID indeed leave you w/ a gift: one of kindness & encouragement. Many people don't possess that gift, Anna May. Be glad & rejoice in that, because it is a wonderful thing. People will always appreciate you for it.

SJ, A.M!


Lovebabz said...

Oh my dear you have captured a certain kind of Brother-Man in a hat. I was so taken back to the men I knew who wore their hats with such pride and dignity and elegance.

You did your father proud.

Daij said...

I love this tribute!

Moanerplicity said...


Thanks, LB. That era of quiet elegance & unfettered cool has sadly left us. When I think back to my childhood, it seemed as if there were several black, brown & dark-skinned kings among us.


Moanerplicity said...

@ Daij:

Thanks man. I appreciated your poem as well.


Reggie said...

Very very nice post!!!

Moanerplicity said...

Thanks a lot, Reggie.