My Hat as Medicine

Wearing a hat is serious business.

The most important feature being it is impossible to be invisible

And I can not afford to let myself fade too far.

I purposefully wear a hat out in the world at all times because my reality in a wheelchair exists two feet below yours

Assuming you are ambulatory.

It isn’t just that the very act of wearing a hat is unusual enough to draw attention;

The fact I must expand my energy to include the very “hat-ness”

Is potent medicine in itself.

In order to be comfortable in a hat such as the one above I HAVE to be confident

Even if I am just faking it

Because faking it is exhausting

And so I usually fatigue which takes me to the real thing anyway, in time.

Cowboys know about hats.

They have to, by god…

Or else they’d be hopping off and on their trusty steed till the cows came home (on their own).

Those boys and girls (and me to a lesser extent)

Have to have a handle on aerodynamics; where is the wind coming from?

In order to slice into it at the right angle

To keep their hat.

Crosswinds are killer for me at large intersections thus the stampede string which I sorta hate.

I often use my hat brim as armor.

Emma is such an inviting accessory that I can tell the fiendish gleam

In a tourists eye

(having left their beloved canine behind at home and in full meltdown)

Zooming toward us for a petting fix.

If I am in a magnanimous mood and have a bit extra juice I will accommodate

But if not

I drop my brim

And pass them by

In a heavy silence,

Attuned to the disappointment dripping from their hungry hands

Behind me.

I’m not mean.

Just practicing the fine art

Of loving myself

Enough

Not to give away the gold

Unless I choose to.

Being a hat-person has given me entry into a select club of like-minded souls

Who tend toward the fascinating, gregarious, adventuresome, creative, life-appreciating and curious.

Who wouldn’t want some of that?

I’m a rolling “Meet-Up group.”

I remain ok in part

By ensuring I stay connected

Through the use of dressing well, sporting interesting accessories, my beloved Emma and a ready smile; my “connection tools”

Which are far and away more healing

Than any pill I could take.

The Loveliness of the Little Good

STORMY WEATHER, 44×44,m/m

.

Those words came from the David Brooks article I just read referencing the new documentary on Mr. Rogers.

There were so many weird things about Fred Rogers to make fun of if you weren’t a kid:

His voice made me kind of want to attach a jet engine equipped with mega-doses of testosterone to his voice box to make him talk faster.

To me, he seemed too slow, too overtly gay, too simple and at first blush, too patronizing of children.

He was a fun object of ridicule from my generation

Because we didn’t need him so much.

We were not the ones to be confused as to why the adults would not let us swim in pools containing black people.

When Kennedy was shot we were reduced to stoney silence in the face of all the adults breaking around us; The salve of Mr. Rogers was for those smaller than us. We had nowhere to turn.

I saw the documentary and realized every single syllable, inflection, clothing choice, topic discussed

Were intentionally chosen

To foster his one mission:

TREAT CHILDREN AS THE HIGHLY INTELLIGENT AND FEELING BEINGS THEY ARE.

He spoke slowly and put his face close to the child.

No question was stupid.

“Mr. Rogers..can I be sucked down the bathtub drain with the water?”

He replied softly and evenly: “No, Bobby..just the water goes down the drain.”

Phew.

He gave up his desire to enter the ministry in lieu of understanding he could be of service to his chosen congregation of tiny people in other ways.

He was not gay as his measured and intentionally soft voice suggested but married to a lovely woman who supported his unwavering attention to how best to use TV as his educational tool of choice.

Disability, racism, divorce, death, step-parenting, illness, loneliness, single parenting, riots, bullying, shyness…..each of these topics Fred Rogers approached with the assumption kids were very ok with the truth if presented kindly and without the slime of patronization.

In an interview I read, the black policeman character Mr. Clemmons said that once Fred Rogers had leaned in quite close and looked him in the eye saying: “I like you as you are. I wouldn’t want to change you.”

Instead of feeling the vulnerable expression maudlin Mr. Clemmons said he felt truly seen and loved.

He never forgot it.

When I roll around my neighborhood in my wheelchair and, with intention, extend a small “Good Morning” to most I pass

I get to see the seeming shock a verbal invitation to join in solidarity, if only for a moment, from a stranger can elicit.

It is my version of “I like you as you are”

And each time I see relief

At this tiny recognition

Of our shared

Shuffle

Down a sometimes very gritty road indeed.