Wednesday, January 9, 2013


Apparently, there is something very honest-looking about your forehead and ears, because when you hide them, you look like a criminal. At least, I do.

Ever since I lost the majority of the hair on top of my head, I have been either too cold or too hot. I need to wear a hat outdoors for almost 10 months of the year just to remain at a reasonable temperature. Most of the year a baseball cap works just fine, but for the brutal 15 days of winter here in California, I need something a little warmer on top of my exposed dome.

I got out of the car the other night at Chipotle -- where I was picking up a very nutritious dinner for my wife and I, while our kids were at home with her, eating leftovers and complaining that they didn’t get Chipotle -- when I saw my reflection in the window. I had on my winter beanie cap, and as usual it was pulled down over my ears. If I was the guy at the register inside Chipotle and had seen me coming, I would have assumed I was there to rob the place. I simply look like a ne’er-do-well when I wear a beanie cap.

Women tend to be able to pull the beanie cap look off a lot better than men, but it’s not universal. Most women look cute in a beanie, but occasionally on the wrong woman it can backfire and make her look either homeless, or like your uncle Frank. The beanie doesn’t work on guys at all. There is something about covering up a guy’s ears with a woolen hat that makes them look either untrustworthy, or at the very least, unmotivated. Those are really the only two choices for guys. If you want warm ears you are bound to look like a total slacker or a total hoodlum.

And speaking of hoodlums, let’s not forget the origin of that word. There is also something about your ears that makes you identifiable, or at least recognizable, because in the old days, wearing a hood was all you had to do to conceal your identity during a robbery.

“What did the scoundrels look like?”
“I don’t know. I couldn’t see their ears.”

The term “hood” has never once been used to describe anything good, except maybe the hood over your stove. Those are handy. In describing people and places, it is less than complimentary. I even dislike the word “hoodie.” It has always left a bad taste in my mouth. It’s another hip shortening of a perfectly good word or term, like “vacay” instead of vacation, or “froyo” instead of frozen yogurt. Are we really so lazy or so busy now that we need to shorten “frozen yogurt” to save time? In my mind, that hipster language is indicative of the disturbingly numerous twenty-something slackers I see walking slowly, iPod ear bud cord protruding from under their hoodie, head down, slack-jawed, skinny jeans hanging low, with an eight-dollar cup of coffee in their hand.  Half the time I can’t honestly tell if the particular societal all-star is male or female. Stand up straight and watch where you’re going! But I digress…

I had never owned a hooded sweatshirt until my mother-in-law unknowingly bought me one last Christmas. I politely said thanks while thinking, “Oh great, a ‘hoodie.’ What am I, an unemployed 20-year-old?” I was planning to give it to my wife to sleep in (she gets very cold when the house dips below 68 degrees), but on a whim, I tried it on first. Suddenly I could see -- or I should say, feel -- what all the fuss was about. My neck was really warm. I didn’t even have to be wearing the hood, and it still kept my neck warm. None of my other clothes had ever done that before. Put the hood all the way on, and forget about it! Total head and neck warmth, all in one. It’s like a balaclava without the terrorist undertones.

The warm factor is great and all, but I still don’t really like wearing the hood. It cuts off all my peripheral vision, and I can’t stand that. Plus there is the hoodlum factor. Literally. I look even more like a criminal in a hoodie than in a beanie. In fact, in a hoodie, I look downright menacing, like I might be there to rob you, or I might be there to Taser you and steal your spleen to sell it on the Chinese black market. It’s not a good look for me. If I were to combine the hoodie with a goatee, I would expect any rational police officer to arrest me on general principle.

My kids, on the other hand, love hoods. Apparently they have not been blindsided by enough fast moving objects yet to fully appreciate their peripheral vision. They don’t look nearly as menacing as I do with the hood up, but they can’t escape the inevitable, so I have a strict “no hoods indoors” rule. It’s partly out of good manners, like “no hats at the dinner table,” but mostly to get them into the habit of removing their hoods before going inside so when they grow up and look like me, they don’t get tackled in the bank lobby.

Speaking of that, have you seen the new trend in kids’ hoodies? They now come with built-in masks. You can zip them up to your neck, and they look just like a regular sweatshirt, but the hood has two front flaps made out of mesh, so if you put the hood up and keep zipping, the hood closes up completely over your head with the mesh front panel completely covering your face. Apparently, based on my observations at the playground, the kid can see just fine out of the mesh mask, but you cannot see their face. The masks and sweatshirts have designs on the front to make the wearer look like a skeleton or a zombie when it is zipped all the way up. What drug cartel or gang syndicate came up with these? Talk about the perfect accessory for your next bank robbery. No more having to borrow your girlfriend’s Pantyhose, or sweating inside an itchy ski mask in July. Perfect for a night on the town, or an impromptu carjacking. Get yours today! 

They even have a version that has a Mohawk sewn into the top of the hood. My boys have expressed great interest in the masked hoodies. Not gonna happen, kid. I’m trying to raise you to look less like a criminal, not more. Trust me, son. When you get to be my age, you don’t want ladies pulling their kids away from you and security guards reaching for their can of pepper spray every time you walk by.

As for me, both my beanie hat and my hoodie are black, the universal color of the bad-guy dress code. Maybe a lighter color would help?

Probably not.

See you soon,


Copyright © 2013 Marc Schmatjen

The Just a Smidge Anthology (Volume I) has arrived!
Get your copy today for only $0.99!
Go get your copy of "The Tree of Death, and Other Hilarious Stories" for your mobile device’s free Kindle, Nook, or iBooks app. You’re going to love it! 

No comments:

Post a Comment