I was sitting in the parking lot, debating whether to go inside, eaten alive by social anxiety. I was going to a local poly meeting, where I only knew one person, and crowds scare the fuck out of me. I’m okay once introduced, which is why I usually do okay at conventions – but the thought of entering that Panera’s and talking to a lot of people I’d never met before terrified me.
I thought about driving home. I’d done that before. Going to a place full of new people, sitting in the driveway, then going right back. It’s a secret only the socially awkward know about – kind of like how sometimes we don’t have a lunch date but don’t want everyone at the office to know what losers we are, so we order drive-through and then sit in the parking lot, eating alone.
…then I saw my hat on the seat next to me.
It’s weird, having a hat. People treat you differently in a good hat. Suddenly, you’re more stylish, perhaps a little older, and people say “Sir” more often. They act as though you have more discerning tastes. They feel free to throw compliments in your direction – “Nice hat!” “Looking good!”
And donning the hat becomes an act of transformation. There’s something about cupping it in your palm and then clapping it to your head that says, “Right. We’re doing this.” Perhaps it’s all those 1940s movies where the reporter brusquely puts on his hat before headed out to do Business… But in that moment, I understood everything Barney Stinson had ever said by saying “Suit up!”
Clothes make the man. The hat completes him. I may not be confident, but under the brim of this straw-weaved chapeau, I can convince others that I am. And when I put that hat on, I nodded once and strode into Panera’s to meet my group.
It was a fine meeting. And a fine feeling.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.