Butterflies on the Subway and Black Berets
“Once I read a story about a butterfly in the subway and today, I saw one! It got on at 42nd and off at 59th, where, I assume, it was going to Bloomingdales to buy a hat that will turn out to be a mistake, as almost all hats are.”
—You’ve Got Mail
Once upon a time, a loooooong time ago, my friend Wes asked me this question: “If you were a hat, what kind of hat would you be?”
“A black beret, of course”, I responded without hesitation.
This was the mid-nineties when everybody was wearing berets. Think Monica Lewinsky.
And it was during my black dress with black tights with black Doc Martins phase so yeah, I felt confident with my decision.
As I remember it, we were walking down a pretty steep hill near Wes’ home in San Diego on our way to dinner at a little place in his neighborhood.
Or… We were walking down that same hill after parking someplace where they didn’t have meters (because we were too
cheap cool to pay for parking) and I was eating an Abba Zabba.
I have memories of both those events and the hat conversation happened on one of them I just can’t remember which one.
Anyway, I digress.
Wes stopped dead in his tracks mid-hill which took me a while to notice and because I had so much momentum going. When I finally did look back—he was shouting distance away.
I know that because I heard him shouting “You are so NOT a black beret! Do you even know yourself at all?” At the back of my head.
I waited and when he caught up with me he gave one of those shoulder shoves that your brother gives you when you eat the last chocolate chip cookie or your friend gives you when you say something dim-witted like, you think you’re a black beret.
“What? I love my black beret! It’s simple and clean and it gets the job done—pretty much like me!” I said, presenting my case to his smirky little face.
He started to laugh. And not just a polite little tee hee kind of laugh. Oh, no, my friend was practically doubled over, seized with big guffaws of raucously loud laughter.
I looked around, embarrassed, but the street was empty.
“You are the most complicated person on the planet! He finally managed to choke out. “Simple? Simple? HARDLY!” Bahahahahahaha!
I just stood there with a pouty face silently watching my friend convulse with laughter. But as everybody knows laughter is contagious and within seconds I came down with a nasty case of the giggles.
He continued, Oh, my, gawd! Get’s the job done! A beret is boring! A beret says I didn’t have the time to think about this. You are NOT boring and let’s get real here—you overthink EVERYTHING!”
He locked his arm in mine as we continued down the hill powered by the laughter.
“Okay”, I acquiesced through a fit of giggles. He had a point. “Then, if you know me so well—what kind of hat am I?”
“You are a pink hat. A pink party hat with a flower. Something zippy and sassy that says let’s have fun!”
And although I would never be caught dead in such a hat, I loved the fact that my fashion-forward, highly insightful friend had picked the exact same hat for me that I imagined the butterfly on the subway had chosen for itself at Bloomingdales.
By the way, I have to disagree with Ms. Ephron, (who wrote You’ve Got Mail) hats are never a mistake, even for butterflies.
So…what kind of hat are you?