Tony russo in a kooky winter army hat

Life on Hoth

Tony russo in a kooky winter army hat

Enough already! Get me a tauntaun.

I could claim the snow is breaking me, but in reality I just like wearing this hat. I always have, even when I was a little kid and way to small for it. 

My dad brought this home from the National Guard, along with some other fun stuff including the gas mask (not the kind with the can hanging on), a duffel that said ‘RUSSO’, and the bag for the gas mask, which my brothers and I re-appropriated as a backpack and a helmet. To my knowledge, this is all that we haven’t lost track of. It’s odd to think of an army helmet disappearing, but even odder to think of someone intentionally throwing it out. The same with the gas mask. More difficult to imagine, though, is whether I miss those things because I’m a failed pack rat or because the stuff little boys think is cool is somehow genuinely cool. 

Needing a gas mask isn’t genuinely cool. Neither is needing a flack jacket. Those are horrifying needs. I’m pretty certain no one will ever scream at me to put on my gas mask. That is something that probably won’t happen in my lifetime. If it does, it probably will be the last thing I hear, ’cause I’m not really cut out for the dystopia in which rural America is under attack for long enough that they have distributed old men gas masks. But, who knows?

The one item that I would need, have needed, and have made use of, is the ridiculous Hoth hat. There’s no good reason to call it that. Growing up when it was snowy enough to play Hoth, the hat still was too big. I can barely imagine how it came to follow me through four or five moves over the course of the last 20 years. I must have borrowed it to shovel snow at some point and kept it on a lark. It is the oldest piece of clothing I own. It still is incredibly effective against the cold.

I remember the few times I tried to wear it properly as a child. The part meant to cover the mouth also covered my nose and made it, not difficult to breathe, but wet and hot and uncomfortable; like when you put your face in the crook of someone’s neck only to discover the dilemma between the comfort of closeness and the discomfort of threatened suffocation. As a kid in the snow in the hat, my face would get chapped and I’d be forced to pull the mouthpiece up over my head, using the velcro to turn it into a loose ear warmer. When I turn it that way now, it doesn’t keep my ears covered.

The hat remains uncomfortably hot, though.