Impractically Mine

Well, I have returned from New York and am off to London in the morning. In between, I celebrated Christmas in Wales. It was during this period of gift giving that I was presented with the fedora pictured here. Now, I am not one to don fedoras; nor am I a connoisseur of millinery craftsmanship. The giver is nonetheless someone intimately familiar with my fancies and foibles, someone who knows just how to press all the right soft spots. According to the certificate in the hatbox, the piece of felt in question, of Italian manufacture, was once in the personal collection of Claudette Colbert. Not in her heyday, mind you, but during the mid-1980s, about the time she appeared on stage in the revival of Aren’t We All? in London and New York.

What is the history of that hat? Did Colbert ever sport it? When, where, on what occasion? I am not generally among those who gawk at garments or marvel at the sight of items that may or may not have been in the possession of a noted so-and-so. My immediate, more prosaic question is: what am I going to do with it? The fedora is no doubt the most peculiar item in my collection of Colbertiana, which, a few Christmas ornaments and paper dolls aside, consists chiefly of photographs and posters (the one shown here being the most recent addition). The task of mounting them notwithstanding, prints like this one are far easier to showcase than a hat, the sight of which causes me a slight unease, lest I should be wrongfully accused of having gone as mad as a hatter in my enthusiasm for its ostensible wearer. And yet, I am suffering from an acute shortage of walls to hang pictures from or bang my bare head against. I refuse to put the fedora back in its box, though. There is no joy in keeping from view what gives me pleasure to have about me even if it might give others the wrong idea about me . . .

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