By John Matonich
I heard a word twice this past week that I hadn’t heard in quite a while, and it made me smile. Not sure about its origin, but I believe I was a lot younger when I last heard it. Let me explain.
I have admired a hat that a friend of mine from Lansing wears regularly for some time. It is a hat you may see commonly in Ireland or Scotland, and I thought it might be one I wouldn’t mind adding to my collection. It is somewhat of a tam style but more closely fitting with a slightly upturned bill. I did some research and found out it is called a “duck bill” hat. As soon as I saw a picture, I knew that was the one I was looking for. Certainly different than the typical baseball style hat found regularly worn across the country and it doesn’t sport a truck logo or a profound saying like “I am only here for the beer!”
I received my new hat not too long after placing the order and decided to wear to my wood shop the next day. I have a hat at the shop I wear while making sawdust so I wasn’t worried about messing up my new chapeau. On the way home that day, I stopped at a local pub to have something to get the sawdust out of my throat. Several folks that I knew were there and we swapped some local news and a few fishing reports. I could see one of my friends was eyeing my new headwear, but he didn’t ask about it, that is until about 15 minutes into our conversation when he stopped and looked at me and asked, “Hey John, are you going someplace special today? You look pretty dapper.” He caught me a little off guard as I hadn’t heard the word “dapper” in quite some time. I told him my next stop was home for the evening, but appreciated his comment. I smiled on the way home and thought my new purchase must have been a good one.
I was in central Wisconsin over the past weekend and decided to wear my new cover there. It was a good meeting and we went through a lot of the organization’s business. As we were getting ready to conclude the meeting, I started to think about the four hour back home, but as soon as our president adjourned the meeting he stopped everyone and said, “I just want to say I think John looks quite dapper today.” There was that word again. A number of folks in attendance came over and asked where I bought the hat and how much did I have to shell out for it. I shared the info and thanked them for their nice comments. As I drove home afterward, I couldn’t help but once again smile. I am about as far from a fashion plate as anyone can get. Given I am retired, suits and ties are long gone. I now wear blue jeans and sweat shirts most of the winter months and trade the sweatshirt for a golf shirt or tee shirt when the temps rise, so I never expect any invitations to be interviewed by GQ. I am kind of hoping to hear from “Wood” magazine at some point though. Not for the cut of my shop apron, but maybe to share some tips on how to build a cherry floor standing mirror or a Mont Blanc style pen using a South African exotic hardwood. No such luck yet, but maybe someday.
I have to admit it was nice to have some folks notice and comment about something you may be wearing. It made me remember the traditional first day of school when you wore some of your new school clothes and shared good comments with your friends and their new duds. I don’t remember ever calling any of my friends “dapper, but I will remember that word from now on. I may have to use it when I see some of my friends sporting their new Green Bay Packer baseball hats. Or not.
And that’s the situation as I survey it …
Image credit: patricia m