As some of you may have noticed with disapprobation, Saul Jordan, the hero of my NaNoWriMo pulp novel, remains vaguely defined. In part this is because all the world knows the features of Saul Jordan’s face from his previous adventures (sorry, I do love my own pulp pretensions); in part it is because the combined clich— I mean, power— of Saul’s description might bust your noggins; and in part this is because I figure it is unnecessary. However, one piece of his description IS necessary. It shades his firm jaw and sets off his gunmetal grey eyes. However, I cannot bring myself to define it.
Perhaps the problem is that Saul Jordan wears many metaphorical chapeaux. He is a cynical, world-weary private detective; an international man of mystery; a decorated war hero. These roles cannot be subsumed into one hat. Moreover, what hat can I use? Given Saul Jordan’s true-blue history as an ace fighter pilot, I had to have his non-PI wear include a flight jacket. Therefore, he absolutely cannot wear the hat which his PI role would imply: a fedora. Saul Jordan is not a cheap Indiana Jones knockoff! Saul Jordan is a cheap Sam Spade/Indiana Jones/Jack Colton/Flash Gordon/Lucky Starr/Richard Seaton knockoff. (I’m keeping my options open.)
The fedora ruled out, what is a girl to do? He can’t wear a pilot’s helmet to match his flight jacket. That would just be weird, and besides, Sky Captain was too disappointing for any part of it that didn’t involve Angelina Jolie kicking ass to influence my hero.
He cannot wear a cap, as styled by news boys, Eponine, Bertram Wooster and myself. Not only would it be below his dignity, but on Planet Hard-Boiled, only the most coffee-and-doughnut loogan wears a cap. It’s a symbol of the lowliest thug, not the loftiest hero.
So what then? Every other felt dress hat is too wimpy or too evil. Pith helmet? PLEASE. Aussie hat? I do not plan on putting velociraptors in my story (though I keep my options open.) Cowboy hat? Urgh. We are from Chicago, people. We are not every steely-eyed American stereotype. I’m sorry, Johnny Ringo, but that even goes for the best evil cowboy hat evar. (The best good cowgirl hat, incidentally, was worn by Prue on Charmed. I want this hat as I have never wanted a cowboy hat before.)
All this nattering aside, where am I left? Is Saul Jordan, besides being the greatest hero of his generation, the only man in that generation not to wear a hat? In sunny, high-altitude Peru? Would a hero be that stupid?