Mad as a Hatter

By Jim Hagarty

Acid corrodes the vessel in which it is stored, more than the vessel into which it is poured – my Dad on resentment. He laid this on me many years ago during a discussion I was having with him. I have no idea now what information I had given him that prompted him to share this gem with me but my guess is I was harboring a gigantic grudge against someone and he was trying to steer me in a better direction.

Today, thank God, I rarely hang on to anger at anyone else for very long. It’s not that I am trying hard not to resent anyone, it just seems to be happening naturally the older I get. Maybe it’s a time’s running out sort of thing, and there are better things to occupy my mind with. Or my brain is starting to shut down the number of things it can handle.

Whatever the reason, I am grateful to be mostly free of that monkey that got a free ride on my back for many, many years. Still, I do have lots of grumpy old man moments.

I have found most resentments come from unrealistic expectations of others and that it is possible to resent myself – that is called remorse.

That concludes today’s sermon. I shall now pass the basket for your freewill offering.

The More Things Change …

By Jim Hagarty

I am not good at goodbyes and I’m terrible with change. I’m still trying to get over being forced to leave Grade 8. But the only thing that never changes is that everything always changes (that is my own expression, thought up in my own little brain but you are free to use it providing you send me $5 every time you do.)

In any case (the previous bunch of words being the equivalent of putting filler in hamburger), I said all that to say this: I had to say farewell to my family doctor of almost 15 years yesterday and that was hard. I got a little choked up as I left the building and walked to my car.

But this is why I liked him so much.

He knew all us old fogies all too well. His name is Dr. D. Thompson. Guess what the name of the new doctor is. Dr. D. Thompson. Yes, as we shook hands goodbye he said to me that he wanted to make sure he found someone with the same name to take over so it wouldn’t be too much of a shock. Not exactly the same. His name is Douglas and the new guy is David, but close enough.

I thanked him for all he had done for me and my wife and son and daughter and he smiled and said, “You get what you give.”

I’m going to hang onto that as soon as I figure out exactly what he meant.

The Old Cap and Gone

By Jim Hagarty

I suppose I should have guessed that my new baseball cap would bring the worst out in the people who saw me wear it. It is, after all, the ugliest baseball cap ever manufactured in whatever country had the gall to make it. But I like it and therein lies the problem.

It’s a nice shade of brown and when it sat on the shelf in the store, it already looked like a baseball team had taken it out behind the building and beat it to death several times with their bats. Then drove over it with the team bus. The peak was ripped and torn when I paid the clerk $21 and tax for it. I own at least 13 other baseball caps, not counting the ones that are hiding in closets and boxes all over the premises, and I didn’t pay $21 plus tax for the whole lot, having acquired most of them for free somehow and others for a buck or two. But this little brown beauty fit my head perfectly and emblazoned across the front is the logo, “Farm Boy.” Being a farm boy, I had to have it.

The first ones to express their deep mortification when they saw me wearing the hat were some former fellow journalism teachers who could hardly eat the meal we had gathered for because they couldn’t stop staring at my ugly cap. One guy even used the word ugly to describe it.

Fortunately, I am a patient man and I let the slings and arrows bounce off me. I tried to defend myself by saying that I actually chose this cap in the decrepit state it is in and paid $21 plus tax for it. But that feeble defence did little to subdue the haters as they immediately switched from despising the cap to wondering about my mental stability and reasoning powers after admitting to this horrendous purchase.

Other groups of people also started to complain including members of my own family. But they needn’t worry. The cap is not in my will. Instead I am leaving it to a young farmer out in Logan Township who I know will wear it with pride.

The dilemma I have, however, and this is the reason for my story, is my most cherished cap keeps disappearing. For days at a time and most recently, for an entire week. It is as though it just gets up and walks away on its own. If I was a suspicious, conspiracy-loving man, I might wonder whether or not people in my life who detest my hat are purposely hiding it on me. It’s a hard conclusion not to come to because when I finally find it, and rejoice as of course I would, the cap stays in my possession for only another few hours before it once again disappears.

Today marked Day Seven without it. I have been wearing instead various other caps from my collection of 13 but doing so has been like having my Corvette break down and having to ride my old bike. With two flat tires.

Today I was going through a full recycling box, carefully transferring each item to a bigger blue bin, to make sure nothing was accidentally discarded. When I got halfway down the pile of papers and boxboard, the familiar brown top of my beloved cap was exposed. Had some other member of the family just dumped the contents of the box into the bin without checking, I would have been searching for my cap for the rest of my life.

How did my cap get in the recycling box?

Tomorrow, I meet with a DNA and fingerprint expert to try to find the traitor.

And I am sleeping with one eye open.