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Ann Brenoff

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Tilley Hat: A Man And His Hat Are Not Easily Parted

Posted: 03/16/2012 9:50 am

My husband's Tilley Hat came to us 10 years ago with an owner's manual and a "life's perils" insurance policy. It guaranteed against loss or damage and unlike the Titanic, my husband's Tilley Hat can float in water. It has a nifty pocket inside the crown for storing keys (should you be inclined to carry your keys on your head) and there are "ventilation grommets" to hook the arms of your glasses and velcro to seal them in place. My husband's Tilley hat protects against harmful UV rays and with its chin-strap in place, can withstand gale-force winds.

It was love at first sight between my husband and his Tilley hat. He has literally worn his Tilley every day for 10 years. It has been left in restaurants around the world, gone swimming in five oceans, and been stepped on by an irate camel at the Great Pyramid of Giza. It was left behind on a tour bus at Ephesus, Turkey (and returned by a well-tipped tour guide, much to the relief of an entire cruise ship) and has seen both the Western Wall and the Great Wall of China, although not on the same day.

It was photographed on the Spanish Steps, in front of Big Ben, on an Alaskan glacier and at a Hawaiian luau right next to the pig.

It has been to countless kids' soccer games, professional baseball games, Little League games, basketball games and has watched one bullfight, which I like to think it needed to close its grommets too.

His Tilley is such a part of him that around our town -- best-known for movie producers who wear baseball caps backward -- he's often described simply as "you know, the guy in the hat." He takes it as compliment and will spend long hours explaining to anyone who will listen about how his Tilley hat really bears no resemblance to the one Harrison Ford wore in "Indiana Jones." Indiana Jones did not wear the keys to the Temple of Doom on his head, after all.

My husband's Tilley has been washed repeatedly and then some. But after 10 years of sweat, sunscreen, bug spray and dogs sitting on it in the car, we were forced to have the "Is it time to replace your Tilley?" discussion. Things didn't go so well. His attachment to his Tilley Hat was palpable. He agreed to a replacement only if Tilley made the identical hat, which they still do.

So his new hat arrived by UPS recently without much fanfare. My husband wouldn't even open the box until our daughter noticed it untouched on the steps hours later. And then before he took it out to model it, he (out of respect?) moved his old Tilley hat to the other room. He took the new hat out of the box, proclaimed it fit "fine" and then returned it to the box post-haste.

Today, he walked out the door wearing his old Tilley hat. The new one sits in on the closet shelf. He says he is just not ready. I think a Tilley will just do that to you.

 
 
 

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