Good Manners, the FDA, and Bright Lights

From the time he was little, CF and I have tried to impress upon NF that boys and men don’t wear hats indoors, no matter what all the sports heroes, rap stars, and his own uncles and grandfathers do.

It hasn’t been easy. And it gets even harder when he see girls and women wearing hats indoors, even if it’s in church. Explaining why this is considered acceptable just plunks us down into a good old-fashioned gender role discussion, one that we find we are surprised to find ourselves defending.

But this really has nothing to do with what I want to discuss, but as always I will digress. What it all comes down to is our old-fashioned insistence on NF displaying old-fashioned good manners. I don’t mean knowing his salad fork from his fish fork; I mean speaking nicely to relatives and friends, and observing common human courtesies. This includes dressing decently and speaking non-obscenely.

Our efforts to de-hat him indoors have been pretty successful, although now that he has gotten all of the hair shaved off his head, I’d just as soon he kept it covered. He had unruly hair until a few years ago, when his entire baseball team decided to shave themselves bald for good luck, and he’s kept the look, despite his rather lopsided head, ever since.

On the other hand, I’ve taken to wearing hats myself more often than not, no matter the status of the roof over my head.

The hats that women are allowed to wear inside are the fluffy-duffy Easter bonnet kind, the ones covered in feathers or flowers that you store in boxes covered in feathers or flowers and stack neatly in a closet, the kind of box that Audrey Hepburn swings from her arm as she saunters down Fifth Avenue.

The hat that I wear inside is a baseball cap. Not the perky kind that you might see the chirpy 25-year-old moms wearing at toddler t-ball practice, the kind where you can stick your pony tail out through the opening in the back so it bounces around all perky, the kind that says something cute on the front, like, “All Kids Finish FIRST!!”

No, my baseball cap is the real thing, smashed down low over my eyes and tilted to the right, the better to block out the light from the lamp on the table next to me. I want the lamp on so I can see, but I cannot bear the peripheral glare. The lamp has a normal light bulb in it, and I know it does not really make any noise, but to me it gives off a perpetual buzz-light, a constant whine-light, one of those fluorescent nicks of a scraping dental drill on the tops of your teeth.

And that sets off those headaches I’ve been moaning about for a while. Jamming a baseball cap over your eyes has not been endorsed by the FDA as an approved method of headache remedy, but it does give me something to do while I wait for the extra Topimax to kick in. Just last week my neurologist prescribed an additional drug to try to really kick the headaches out of me, so we’ll see how that helps.

I’ve always been a bit sensitive to light, I admit, but it has gotten significantly worse in the last year. I didn’t think much of it when I started jamming caps over my eyes shortly after The Blitz because, after all, I’d just had a stroke, and it kind of made sense that my eyes would be sensitive.

Everything was sensitive. Bed sheets were sandpaper, water was bullets, music a screech, sun light a pulsing torch—so a baseball cap seemed like a small concession. A couple of earplugs and sunglasses and a walker and several layers of polar fleece, not to mention round-the-clock seizure medication, and I was completely normal, right?

All of those efforts to block my senses have waxed and waned over the past year, but I’m wearing the baseball cap more and more. When pressed, I substitute a cheap, slightly Australian-looking crusher hat (emphasis on the words cheap and slightly), mostly because I figure it’s better to wear an extremely neutral, colorless beige pseudo Aussie hat than a definitely maroon baseball cap with a red polo shirt. My brain damage has not affected my inner color wheel. It exists in exquisite sharp detail and in fact hurts my eyes very often.

The Aussie-ish hat is for outdoor use mostly, and CF, being a good sport, pretends she is not embarrassed by it. For NF’s baseball games, I have an orange and black baseball cap from his team, and he dare not complain about that.

There is a trend among the adults associated with youth athletic teams these days called fanwear, which can add significantly to the cost of youth athletics. Adults are more or less expected to purchase tee shirts, sweat shirts, sweat pants, caps, and other paraphernalia emblazoned with the team name and perhaps their athlete’s name and/or number, along with their athlete’s uniform and wear this so-called fanwear to games and/or practices. It’s pricey stuff, especially once you start adding in grandparents and siblings, not to mention practice gear for the athlete.

Digression alert: skip this paragraph if you are not interested in a vitally interesting digression. This is your word history lesson for the day. Paraphernalia has an interesting etymology. In law, it is considered the property owned by a married woman that is not part of her dowry; that is, that is not owned by her husband.
End digression.

At baseball games, with my fanwear hat, I can wear my fanwear sweatshirt and my fanwear sweatpants and be fanwear fantastically fantastic. Also fanatically identical to nearly every other fan next to me, the only difference being those who have chosen base black or base gray for their outfits. In either case, our senses are properly dulled against the cold, should there be any, as there often is, especially if we huddle together in front of our trusty propane stoves and layer the fleece blankets across our legs.

If it is hot, off come the sweatshirts and sweatpants to reveal, in my case, a modest fanwear tee shirt and shorts one can only purchase from L.L. Bean. The other mothers have on fanwear tank tops and shorts that allow for a tan. I keep my regulation baseball cap jammed down to keep out the sun.

NF is lucky in that he is allowed to wear his regulation baseball cap in the dugout and in any restaurant his team might go to afterwards to celebrate an especially important victory, although should the  parents be there, we tend to glare at them until someone rolls his eyes in that particular way all parents purse their lips at, and someone finally removes his hat, which causes all the other players to look sheepish, and they too remove theirs, and then pizza is consumed in relative good graces.



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