On August 23, 2018

Hats off to you

By Dom Cioffi

I begrudgingly get up between 5 a.m. and 5:30 a.m. every weekday morning. I hate the act of getting out of bed that early. In fact, my first waking thought once my alarm goes off is usually, “Kill me.”

I don’t wake up that early because I’m an early riser. On the contrary, I am a late-night person who would prefer to sleep in. No, I wake up early because I like to leave work early. And I also like to avoid traffic. Nothing makes me happier than to be sipping on my morning coffee as I’m driving in to work and have no one else around.

The first 15 minutes of my morning commute is heaven. I zip through the neighborhoods near my house unabated. And even when I hit the larger roads, it’s rare for me to see other cars.

However, the second 15 minutes of my commute are a different story. That’s when I start to notice other drivers joining the fray. And by the time I hit the final leg – which is all highway – the rat-race is in full swing.

It’s also still dark when I leave in the morning, with the sun just making its way into the world. During this pre-dawn period I will see the occasionally jogger or retiree walking their dog. They are few and far between and rarely consistent. In fact, the only person I see on almost a daily basis is this one elderly woman who lives a few miles from my home.

Almost every morning I see her out for her morning walk. If I leave at my designated time (which I usually do because I’m a creature of habit), I will almost always see her on the same stretch of road, generally in the same spot (which means that she is also a creature of habit).

Interestingly, the only reason I know it’s the same woman is because she always wears a fancy hat. And when I say fancy, I mean really fancy. It’s also not always the same hat, either. My best guess is that she has, at the very least, a dozen selections.

These hats are not your standard, run-of-the-mill headwear. Many have wide brims teeming with flowers made from fabric and other materials. Other selections stand up tall with feathers streaming off. Most are filled with bright, vibrant colors that glisten when my car headlights light her up on the sidewalk as I drive by.

I guess the best way to describe her is to imagine an enthusiastic senior citizen at church on Easter Sunday.

I’ve been noticing this woman for several years and wondering about her story. Does she simply like hats? Is she an artist who enjoys expressing herself? Or is she just some eccentric old lady who also harbors dozens of cats back at her house?

I stopped waving to her long ago because she never makes eye contact. I would have to think she recognizes my truck given how often I see her, but she has never once looked at me as I’ve driven by.

I suppose I could stop one morning and inquire about her unique taste in hats, but that seems like a perfect scenario to get Mace sprayed in my face.

I’ve asked my wife and neighbors if they’ve ever seen her at the grocery store or other local establishments, but no one ever recalls seeing an elderly woman with an ostentatious hat, which makes me think she only wears them in the morning. Maybe she’s embarrassed only feels comfortable going out when it’s still dark?

Whatever the case, she remains a mystery to me. Sometimes as I cruise past her I find myself imagining scenarios about her life. Perhaps she’s extremely wealthy and the hats she wears were actually created by famous French fashion designers. Or maybe she grew up poor and always dreamed of wearing expressive bonnets like the rich women in her hometown. Or maybe she’s just some regular old lady who likes wearing hats.

Someday I’m going to find out her story and hopefully it will be worthy of all the time I’ve spent thinking about her.

This week’s film, “Crazy Rich Asians,” involves a budding romance where one person in the relationship finally finds out the story of her lover, who is not at all what he initially seemed.

“Crazy Rich Asians” is the fairytale story of a young woman whose boyfriend turns out to be the son of one of the wealthiest businessmen in Singapore. But while she initially thinks that she’s hit the jackpot, she soon discovers that extreme wealth is not the key to happiness.

There’s a lot of buzz surrounding this film because it’s the rare, big budget Hollywood offering with a completely Asian cast. In the same way that African Americans rallied around “Black Panther” as groundbreaking, the same is holding true for this film.

Check this one out if you pine for the rich and famous lifestyle. But while there’s lots of glamorous people and scenery to gawk at, unfortunately, it doesn’t always translate into an abundance of laughs. A sparkly “C+” for “Crazy Rich Asians.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at moviediary@att.net.

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