The Lost Hat


Of all the things that get lost, the lost hat is the most memorable. Seawater all over the world is not the same seawater. You sit here shirtless. You could compose an entire corpse of a novel by writing only what comes to mind. One presumes one is not young. The back aches after a certain year. (Try to remember this is written for the second person.)  

In the murderous hills of the place in Italy where Baci chocolates are produced you spotted an actor, of some retort, and a band of Italians climbing the mountain singing The Internationale. At the top of the mountain in the middle of the square there was a gypsy girl and her gypsy baby. The actor used to play a spy in a television series. You thought when you saw him, ‘That’s him'. Immediately you questioned his motives for being in the same mountainous region as you. You were bored and had made plans to leave the following day. The actor looked as if he had settled in for a few months, even years. You thought, ‘He is having an affair. Perhaps with his wife'. You ducked into the little store and bought a green hat. You had one last dinner to get through before descending the mountain for good. You arrived at that quasi-theoretical position one reaches on the food in Italy only if you were foreign and had consumed much of it in restaurants in recent weeks. You wondered if the striking workers came up the mountain every day. It was just after their collective siesta. Their collective spirits were perky. You had not had a siesta. You are resistant to the cultural norms of others, unless they involve alcohol. You went back to the convent dorm and took a late nap. When you woke you didn’t know where you were. This had happened once before. In your own bed in your own mother’s house. It felt like a lesser déjà vu. You took Ellman’s biography of Oscar Wilde with you to the restaurant so that you would not be unarmed against the solicitations of the waiters and could bonk them over the hand with the book. When the gypsy family came in, begging and stealing, you wanted the waiters to dismiss them at once, but they tolerated them to the point where you had to dip into your purse. Naturally you did not order the tiramisu. You thought of the long night ahead at the convent. You did not always sleep in a straightforward fashion. Sometimes insomnia fell upon you, or built up inside you like an insurmountable wall. But you had not yet memorised all the insomniac prayers and poems. What if you ran out of pages of Oscar Wilde? The night passed. The next day, as planned, you boarded the train for Rome. You knew that you would visit the Vatican in the coming days. You dreaded the feeling of feeling overwhelmed by a lack of appropriate feeling. ‘Just make it up,’ you told yourself lavishly.