Friday, May 16, 2014

Rainy day redux vol. four: Wear it Well

From 2006 through 2009, I was a regular pop culture columnist for the now defunct Cleveland Free Times. The following "Rainy Day Woman" column ran on Sept. 9, 2007. 

An Open Letter to the Person who Stole my Hat

You shitbag.

Go ahead and say I asked for it, that this is what I get for leaving the windows of my Mini Cooper open in the Famous Footwear parking lot. Were you teaching me a lesson by reaching in and grabbing my red and white bucket hat from the driver's seat headrest?

Erin O'Brien and hat in Mini Cooper
The Mini and I don't ask for much. We don't take more than we need. The hat looked good on me and when I wasn't wearing it, it looked good on the Mini. There was even a tiny Mini Cooper pin on it.

Who steals a floppy hat that you couldn't sell for a half-dollar at a garage sale? Did you take it just to be mean? You didn't take anything else, not the stack of CDs or the $5 in the ashtray. Nope, just the hat. Too bad it wasn't full of lice.

I hope that hat makes your coffee cold and your ice cream hot. I hope you have a squeaky little dick or saggy boobies or an embarrassing body odor problem. I hope that hat brings you bad luck. I hope...


Maybe that's not quite right. No, it's not; it's not right at all. That's not who I am or who I want to be. Let me try this again. Let me take it from the top.

Erin O'Brien and hat, 2005
Here's a secret: I believe in magic. Not the rabbit-out-of-the-hat sort or the kind that compels skinny weird chicks with black hair to do chants and buy vials of patchouli-scented oil, but the sort that really delivers. My magic says if you don't clutch your money too tightly, you'll always have enough. It makes your cat purr and your dog's leg pump the air when you scratch his belly.

There is this shitty holiday cartoon Frosty the Snowman. The animation isn't very good and the music is irritating, but just five minutes ago, when I was typing about a squeaky little dick, some of that magic I'm talking about wafted over me and made me think of that cartoon. I won't go over the whole plot, but it's about a shitbag magician who can't do any magic and probably went around taking worthless stuff out of Mini Coopers when he wasn't failing at doing shitty magic. One day he throws his magician's hat away and it blows in the wind and lands on this dorky snowman. The effing snowman comes to life and dances around and makes all the kids happy.

You've got a hat and I believe in magic, so what the hell, why not try it? Go ahead, put the Mini Cooper hat on. Think of it as taking the "e" off of "hate." Presto! You're left with a hat. Don't be shy. Slap it on. I'll wait right here.

Anything happen?

Did your hair grow 2 feet long? Did you instantaneously become ticklish? Did you get the urge to sit cross-legged? Or blast Iggy Pop and dance madly backwards? So do it.

Do all of it.

Look at the grocery clerk's name tag and say, "Clara is a wonderful name." Why not? It's true. Smile at the crunchy old bus driver. I promise he will smile back. Abracadabra! He is beautiful. Gimme 50 cents and I'll show you how to make it rain M&M's.

No, no, don't take the hat off now. You're just getting started. Take a big breath, fill your lungs all the way up. Then close your eyes and let it out as you open those peepers slowly. It's not your imagination. Euclid Heights Boulevard really is a rainbow. Coventry is a pot of gold. The old shoeshine man is Frank Sinatra and the lunch waitress is Bettie Page. Of course those are real diamonds sparkling atop Lake Erie in the sunlight. Why don't they sink, you ask? It's the magic, you doof!

Calling you doof is more fun than calling you shitbag.

The falafel sandwich you're eating as you walk down West 25th Street tastes like the best thing you ever ate because it is the best thing you ever ate. And even though that guy sitting on the step can't play a tune to save his life, drop the change and crumpled-up bills from your front pocket into his guitar case. Now turn the other cheek, baby, and I'll give you a kiss.

I can't stop laughing either.

Blow out all the candles or find a glittering star. Make a wish. But the flickering flame and star are just for show. The power is in the wish.

What? You already knew that? Then the mojo is really smokin'.

Hey. I've changed my mind about the whole thing. Go ahead and keep the hat. When you're ready (don't worry, you'll know when you're ready), slip it over your driver's seat headrest. Leave all the car windows open while you go buy a new pair of shoes. Maybe you'll bring a snowman to life in Cleveland in September.

I just did.

* * *


Elisson said...

By George! If anyone can polish a turd, (or a shitbag) it's you. Lovely post about the redemptive power of forgiveness... whether the shitbag is redeemed or not, you certainly are, having channeled anger into creativity.

No wonder I like you so much.

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks, E.

Every word of this post is true. After the hat got lifted, I sat down to write a blog post and bitch out whomever stole it.

So there I was, and then I thought of that dumb "Frosty" cartoon and this column was the result. It was the honest way I felt and it ended up being one of my most popular publications ever. People came up to me on the street, "Erin O'Brien! I didn't steal your hat!"

A long lost friend even saw the column and sent me a hat in the mail.

Sometimes you've got to light a candle, I guess.

Michael Lawless said...

My wife, Ronni, belongs to the religion of Silly. She prays to Silly, and for Silly, and would go to the Church of St. Silly if there were one. This personal magic keeps her young and creeps into my "old man mind" and rubs me till I'm silly. Magic is everywhere...if we look.

philbilly said...

What I wouldn't give to tip Bettie Page for black coffee, a grilled cheese sandwich and onion rings.

Vincent Smetana said...

This piece was smart, wondrous, and inspirational. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

When this ran the first time people around town were throwing their OWN hats away to deflect the attention of the entire city elsewhere. Tense and dangerous days, to be sure.

Eliot Ness

Erin O'Brien said...

Thanks for reading and for leaving all the nice comments, gents.

Anonymous said...

It is better to light a candle than to curse the darkness but it really pisses me off. Maybe if I say it real quiet down here no one will notice.