“We were never friends. Not for a second. I loved you.”
— the prophet piper kerman
Love is a funny thing. You see a photo. You know nothing about the subject of the shot, but you instantly picture yourself together — walking along a deserted beach, sitting on a quiet mountain top, buying a Medium Chocolate Frosty together. You’re smitten.
But you remind yourself. It’s just a photo. Things would be different in real life. You had only stumbled across the photo on Facebook or Instagram, those evil places that sort through your posts and likes so they can play Matchmaker with you. Evil Bastards. (For the sake of brevity and to avoid repetition, I will in subsequent references say “evil bastards” instead. But you will know what I mean.)
And so you put the photo out of your head, content in the knowledge that your paths could never possibly cross in real life. You move on.
But love doesn’t care. You can’t just say “Don’t fall in love.” to yourself. “Life is like a melody, it never lasts for long,” the prophet smelly dog once said. “But when it stops, the memory lingers on.” Which doesn’t apply here at all, but the prophet smelly dog needs the royalty money.
You’re walking through the Peace Surplus store in Flagstaff. It’s one of the obligatory stops on every visit: Macy’s, courthouse, Babbitt’s, Macy’s again, art joints, muffin store, Macy’s one last time, Beaver Street Brewery, Peace Surplus on the way out of town. But you can’t remember ever buying anything there.
It’s sitting in the front of the store, staring eagerly at the door, waiting for someone to walk in and give it a Forever Home. It’s Mo’s Worst Nightmare. She has seen the photo for weeks now, but smugly assumed we would never come across it in real life. And. Now. We. Have. It’s the beloved KAVU hat. The greatest running hat ever made, other than, of course, Rick’s pith helmet.
You try it on, assuming it’s futile because it will be too small for your Gigantic Smith Boy Head. But it fits like a glove. Actually, it doesn’t fit like a glove at all, since gloves don’t fit that well on one’s head. although they never asked O.J. to try in the courtroom, thus letting the case slip away.*
You take a selfie to admire how the two of you go together like peas and carrots, except that peas are too hard to eat with a knife, and carrots always make you think of Bugs Bunny in a dress. Damn Wayne’s World.
You turn to Mo, awaiting her enthusiastic approval. She answers in one word. “No.” Actually it’s a bunch of words. “No no no no no no no no no no no no.” Also, “no.” Of the ad that brought the hat to your heart and both of you to this place, she thinks Evil Bastards. (For the sake of brevity and to avoid repetition, I will in subsequent references say “evil bastards” instead. But you will know what I mean.)
Sensing an impasse, you send the photo to your sister Jami, the voice of reason, for the tiebreaker vote. She responds with something to the effect of, “mmmmmmm, well, MAYBE, if it is free and you wear it only in the dark and ps I’m removing you from my phone contact list but this has nothing to do with the hideous hat you are wearing in the photo.”
You consider her emphatic “maybe” to be a positive response. Win! But Mo disagrees. She turns to the guys behind the store’s cash register and asks what they think.
It’s hard to hear their response amid the muffled laughter. They appear to think you are joking about the hat. But you just read that Bob Dylan pitched two songs to the Everly Brothers in 1969 and they said no, thanks. There is no accounting for taste. Also, I dropped out of accounting in my third semester, back before the Supreme Court banned accounting after the first semester. Evil Bastards. (For the sake of brevity and to avoid repetition, I will in subsequent references say “evil bastards” instead. But you will know what I mean.)
And so you leave it behind. You move on.
The next day on her Instagram account, you see a photo of Flagstaff resident and world-class runner Sara Hall WEARING THE HAT while running her long run on Lake Mary Road. She must have found it just after we left. In her defense, she has adopted a lot of kids.
And then, the photo disappeared. You assume Ryan saw it and had the same reaction as Mo. You suppose some relationships are better left without bringing in a third party.
You kill your Facebook and Instagram accounts so that you never have to see another photo of the hat or the halls or Grumpy Cat, who seems to have gone into seclusion.
Social media is the biggest curse facing our country, other than global warming and squirrels. Evil Bastards. (For the sake of brevity and to avoid repetition, I will in subsequent references say “evil bastards” instead. But you will know what I mean.)
And that was that. So long, hat. We were never friends. Not for a second. I loved you. Please tell Sara and Ryan hey, and thanks for the green bean.
* As a working journalist, I am not allowed to express an opinion as to whether or not O.J. Simpson was guilty.
OK, he was guilty. Evil Bastard.