EVELPEETY reminded me how much he hates that hat from so long ago. I will, paraphrase his comment from last week; I hope you're not trying to convince Andrew (your son) to use a hat like the one I'm thinking of as a freebie to attract interest in his work. I know this hat. I do not like this hat.
As a tribute to EVELPEETY, I will share the history of my "Rat-Hat"...aka, my "Lucky Hat." I hope this homage satisfies EVELPEETY because I know him and his jibber-jab might just be a clever ruse for the rare privilege of seeing his photo in consecutive MGTP stories.
I moved to New Jersey in 1984. I got a craps dealing job at the Atlantis Casino for two years while my dealer training academy was being developed.
During my time at the Atlantis, my wife Sue had a series of non-casino jobs. One was as a secretary, for an electrical contractor.
To welcome new employees to their firm, Sue received a treasure trove of chintzy novelty gifts with the company name and logo emblazoned on them. Among other nonsense, this shit included a water bottle, key chain, memo pad, pen, pencil and baseball cap.
Sue gave me that white with orange lettering ball cap. I'm not a hat guy so it was worn infrequently, (mostly in the rain or on the hottest sunny days, especially at the beach). Despite being rarely used, the cheap fabric faded and the filth and sweat stains were easy to see.
At that time, we were living in an apartment complex with a pool. The hat embarrassed Sue and she was mortified when neighbors would see me in my disgusting "Rat-Hat."
|MY WIFE NEVER BOUGHT-IN TO THIS RATIONALE FOR WEARING THAT MESSED-UP HAT, "YOU NEVER KNOW WHEN A DISEASE SPREADING MENACE MIGHT JUMP ON YOUR HEAD...SO IT'S GOOD TO HAVE PROTECTION."|
Sue started a campaign to buy me a new hat. I refused. She pointed out that the plastic sizing strap in the back of the hat was broken off. I had grow accustomed to its unique features and said, "I don't mind. Besides, it adds character." Soon Sue stopped badgering me about it.
Once my parents came to visit. We spent time at the pool and returned to our apartment. My mom didn't say anything and slipped outside. Ten minutes later, she returned with the Rat-Hat which I had accidentally left behind. Sue wasn't joking when she said, "I saw it too...but I was hoping he would have forgotten about it."
In 1989, Sue and I bought a house. In addition to its regular uses, I wore that raggedy hat when I did yard and automotive work. The already nasty hat became smudged with grass and dark grease stains. Whatever level of hatred Sue might have had in the hat's early years, it was intensified a thousand-fold, five years later. I could only imagine the diabolic plans she laid out to rid the free world of it.
During my time at the Atlantis Casino, I became friendly with Willie Potato, (see my, "THE NINE LIVES OF WILLIE POTATO," blog from October 17, 2011). When he got married, Sue and I attended their wedding. Soon, the four of us socialized a great many times.
Willie had several close calls with death. But when he and his wife encouraged Sue and I to join them on a canoeing trip on the Bass River, it was Sue and I who were lucky to survive.
The Potato's were veteran canoeists. Sue and I were not into water sports, (get your mind out of the gutter...we weren't into any kind of water sports...). For our three-hour river tour, she and I over-prepared like the cast of, "GILLIGAN'S ISLAND."
Much like Lovey Howell's maid, Sue carefully packed us a picnic lunch, a change of clothes, a blanket, towels, bug spray, suntan lotion and a camera. Just before blasting off, (I mean launching), Sue and I felt confident in what we were doing so the Potato's didn't pester us or look over our shoulder.
Please note, during the next three hours, the Potato's never capsized. It should also be noted that Sue and I capsized in the first six feet of our journey. I'm not pointing a finger at my better half because it was a team effort...we would overturn the boat five more times. Of course it didn't matter after the first time because our lunch, insect repellent, suntan lotion, camera and other personal items were lost during our impersonation of the Titanic, (we saved the things that remained afloat; blanket, towels and most of our formerly dry clothes).
Throughout the morning, dozens of other canoes and carefree individuals floating in inner-tubes successfully navigated the Bass River. I was jealous how relaxed the day could have been as I watched them happily glide by, (we never saw a single other overturned boat, even the one with two stoic nuns and another with three screaming nine-year old brats).
It's crazy but my Rat-Hat remained with me until the third time we were involuntarily forced to abandoned ship. As victims of circumstance, I was so glad we didn't get hurt. Therefore losing the hat was the least of my worries. We were so numb from our mutual tumult that the embarrassment factor faded into obscurity long before we parked (landed) and took a halftime break.
The Potato's were gracious enough to share their lunch with us. While chillin' long after the fact, we were shown how everything they brought was 100% dry because they were stored in plastic trash bags and secured to the inside of their canoe). Sue and I didn't complain about not getting enough to eat as we sat on our sloshing wet, (soon to be muddy on one side) towels. Nor did we mention that we getting eaten alive by mosquitoes and getting sun-burnt. We just gutted it out and still had fun, (sorry, no camera means, no photos to share).
We never really got the hang of canoeing. After the break, we overturned the boat a couple of more times. We were close to the end as I became preoccupied, wondering about water damage to the credentials in my wallet. We drifted into some overhanging tree limbs. Sue pulled a branch away from her face, but it snapped ala the "THREE STOOGES," into mine. I panicked, we started listing side-to-side and our boat flipped one last time.
I was floundering in neck-deep water when I looked behind us and saw a funny sight. It was an enormously overweight man in an inner tube, drinking a Budweiser and smoking a cigar. To add to the comic picture, he had a second tube tethered to his, towing a small ice chest full of beer.
|LOSE THE GIRL AND ADD A MORBIDLY OBESE GUY SMOKING A STOGIE. THIS STOCK PHOTO DOESN'T QUITE CAPTURE THE ESSENCE OF THE HUMOR. I WOULD HAVE TAKEN THAT PRICELESS PICTURE EXCEPT THE CAMERA FELL TO DAVY JONES' LOCKER, SIX FEET INTO OUR ADVENTURE.|
To complete this hilarious moment, the dude was wearing my long lost Rat-Hat. I yelled out to everyone, "Look, here comes my hat!"
Nothing about the trip pissed Sue off...until I was reunited with my suddenly renamed, "Lucky Hat."
Of course she also hated going to the parking lot, (a company shuttle returns customers downstream to their cars). This grim walking experience was exasperated by being forced, in the one flip-flop she had left, to cross forty feet from the canoe to the bus, on hot gravel, covered with broken glass, twigs and creepy crawly insects. I was tempted to tell her: Hey, I'm friggin' barefoot...but I knew it was better to keep quiet.
I lost touch with Willie Potato after I gave up the school. While back doing casino work, I made many new, valued and lasting friends. When Sue and I bought our house, some of my posse helped me ready the land in my backyard, for some major projects.
|OCTOBER 1993. KURUDAVE (right) AND EVELPEETY (center), THIS MIGHT BE THE ONLY PICTURE OF MY "LUCKY" RAT-HAT. FROM THIS DISTANCE, THE HAT DOESN'T LOOK SO REVOLTING...BUT THE SMELL WAS STRONG ENOUGH TO KEEP SKUNKS AND OTHER VERMIN FAR AWAY.|
My friends (above) lived a mile away. I nicknamed their place the "G-Spot" because they were both single and their last names start with a "G." During this stage of our friendship, I was meeting them three times a week and working out with their Solar-Flex equipment.
These pumping iron (stretching giant rubber bands), sessions took place in EVELPEETY'S bedroom. At one point, I ignorantly placed my not-so-lucky "Rat-Hat" on his pillow while exercising. This discovery did not please EVELPEETY. Now, twenty-two years later, that memory still causes a sudden blast of bile to erupt into his mouth...as you can tell from the comment he left on last week's, "NEXT GEN, FREE HAT," blog.
EVELPEETY was surprised that I conveniently allowed myself to forget that little incident. But he might feel better knowing that he'll always be a hero to Sue because the tongue lashing he gave me convinced me to cremate the Lucky Hat. Maybe the next time he's on Cos Cob Street, he can go by his old homestead, look at the rhododendron bushes below his former bedroom and see if he can catch a whiff of the lucky hat remains. Remember EVELPEETY, the stink of the hat is FOREVER and wasn't improved by the noxious odor of burnt plastic.