I like hats by
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Prompted By Hats

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I like hats. Hats can provide protection, inspire intrigue, and serve as typical or atypical representations of a hat wearer’s persona. I don’t often wear hats. I don’t think I look good in most hats, and I never know where to put them down when I’m not in the immediate need of a hat.

Today, I’m wearing a hat because I’m sitting in the sun. I’m sitting in the sun because it’s warm and sunny in Los Angeles and because I sit inside my office too often.

For the past five days I’ve been sitting in my office communicating with old friends via Facebook, email, and telephone. For the past two days I’ve worked hard to recapture early impressions of my old friend Jeffrey.

I’m trying to recapture these early impressions because Jeffrey died early last Monday morning. I last spoke with him Sunday night. I told him I loved him and that I would always be with him. I know that he had been working on a theory that his spirit would be energized in the afterlife by people thinking about him, so I assured him that I would think about him often. All he could say in response was that he was on the phone. That’s okay. I think he got the message.

I’m sharing these early impressions because I knew Jeffrey before so many others met him. I hope I’m giving these friends some comfort by describing him from the early days.

Part of our shared sadness comes from the reality that many of us now live in disparate parts of the nation. Our lives have taken us elsewhere. Part of our sadness comes from a realized or subliminal awareness of the Covid carnage that surrounds us, with so many spirits flitting up and away into the time/space continuum.

But I also believe that a large part of our sadness comes from the layered experience that comes to every generation as we begin to lose each other, one by one. This is where we are, hats or no hats.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy Jeffrey in a hat. He was a wonderful friend.

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Profile photo of Charles Degelman Charles Degelman
Writer, editor, and educator based in Los Angeles. He's also played a lot of music. Degelman teaches writing at California State University, Los Angeles. 

Degelman lives in the hills of Hollywood with his companion on the road of life, four cats, assorted dogs, and a coterie of communard brothers and sisters.

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Characterizations: moving


  1. Suzy says:

    You look great in that hat! My condolences on the loss of your friend Jeffrey. Glad you got to talk to him just a few hours before he died. Nice picture of Jeffrey in a hat too.

  2. Thanks, Suzy. I was fortunate to have caught him on this side of the cosmos for a last talk. Remarkable guy much loved.

  3. Betsy Pfau says:

    Thank you for sharing this condolence note, linking it to hats, Charles. I will think of Jeffrey for you today, too, sending good thoughts into the universe. It has been a year filled with loss in many ways. Sit in the sun, wearing your hat and let the sun shine its warmth on you, friend.

  4. Laurie Levy says:

    So sorry about the loss of your friend Jeffrey. Glad you were able to tell him you loved him — important for both of you.

    • Thanks, Laurie. Yes, it was good to catch Jeffrey, AKA Jeffree, AKA Dr Free, AKA Free before he shuffled off to the cosmic Buffalo. We had a very long and deep friendship. According to his theory, we still do. I’ll go with that!

  5. Sorry for your loss Charles.

    Incredulous as it seems we’re at that stage of life when Zoom funerals and memorials for friends and colleagues seem to be hitting us all too often.

  6. I’m so sorry for your loss, Charles. There’s a sense of mystery in this story, about who Jeffrey is, and I’m not prying for answers except to ask is that a Maine Coon he’s loving on, my favorite breed of cat? I like his hat…and yours, too, by the way.

    • Thanks, Barbara. Yeah, this post has a tip of the iceberg effect. An old and deep friendship stretching back to 1965, a tremendous amount of shared coming of age, communal living, theater work. I’ve written various other Retro pieces involving Jeffrey, the most recent being this post featuring Jeffrey, AKA Jeffree in the Gorilla Marching Band we organized for the SF Mime Troupe, ‘way back when. And talk about hats. In the poster, Jeffree is wearing standard issue Gorilla band helmet with a fluttering rag top.

  7. Still working through all this, I lay awake this a.m. before rising and realized with a start as I meandered through random morning thoughts, how many friends are gone. Whew. Thanks for your response. I started out to chat about hats, but, as I wrote to Betsy above, I’m not ready to let all this go. As a variation on the Supremes’ hit “You Can’t Hurry Love,” you can’t hurry grief either.

  8. Marian says:

    Understand, Charles, what a tough time, but I’m glad you got to connect with your friend one last time in the here and now. Often it’s the light, somewhat trivial things, such as hats, that can trigger our feelings. Maybe the hats weren’t so trivial after all …

    • You’re absolutely right, Marian. I had started this post with the intention of talking about hats but found my invention taking deeper channels, so I followed them. Grief is a solitary process that cannot be hurried, so apologies for the overflow. It was good to talk with my friend that one last time. So often we are not privy to departures!

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