I looked at the offerings and wasn’t impressed. Like most places, they rolled out the expensive stuff in an effort to impress me. But expensive isn’t the same as good. I needed a hat to last, and the expensive, exotic felts and ribbons wouldn’t do that. They clerks kept searching through their stock as I disregarded hat after hat without even trying it on. I even pointed out the reasons as they approached: brim too narrow, crown too high, wrong color, poor lining, bad leather in the band.
After an hour I could tell they were getting frustrated with me, until, finally, a clerk brought out an understated hat in a dark grey. The grey wasn’t the familiar banker’s grey I knew and loved, but something about the way the felt folded in the clerk’s hands made me want to take a closer look.
Buttery felt greeted my fingers and head. The hat fit perfectly. It sat just right on my head. The crown was wrong, but they could re-block it for me to give me the teardrop I wanted. The ribbon had a double bow, different from my last hat, but it didn’t look wrong, just different. It suited this hat. It suited the dark color and what I felt.
“Well, Phil,” I said to the hat, “looks like you’re on the case. Partner.”