What's in a hat?

Thursday November 10, 2005 @ 11:11 PM (UTC)

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?


Perhaps he’s a modest man and wears a plain khaki garrison cap, usually tucked into his flight jacket’s shoulder strap? Or he could just break down and complete the WWII bomber captain look with an officer’s cap, golden Army Air Corps emblem and all. Or he could be jewish (Rabbi Small rearing his head again) – that would, if nothing else, be a novel attire: flight jacket and kippah. If you need more ideas, you can always consult the extensive Wikipedia headgear list.

I have two comments. they might even be related, but it’s 8:30 in the morning, & rational thought should not be required.
A) Where’s the Anglophiliality of yours that we know & love? I mean, un particular, where’s the /Lord Peter Whimsey? Damn but he’s a cool detective.

B) Don’t be afraid to give your hero a flaw. I meanthe lack of a hat, or a silly-looking peasant farmer straw hat that clashes with above features because his head is just too perfect as is to allow any headgear to look right on it. Okay, that didn’t sound too much like a flaw. What I’m saying is don’t be afraid to make little convention omelettes, breaking little bits off as you go. Or maybe that’s not what I’m saying. You could always try a beret. they look surprisingly good on me, & we all know I’m such a model of manly manliness.

... in spite of the story’s notable lack (thus far) of Velociraptors. It’s the appropriate headgear for his situation- wide-brimmed, floppy, warm, etc. Alligator teeth on the hatband should be considered optional.

I have considered an officer’s cap, and it may after all be the winner. It is a bit cheesy, but, after all. This is pulp.


Ahem. Strangely, I feel like I just popped out of one of those cartoon holes in the wall. Hi there =)

Aussie hat was the first thing that popped into my mind. Aside from his lack of fashion sense by foregoing said hat, (completely forgivable, although somewhat dissapointing, in a male) he’d strike a nice, independent guy sort of figure without one.

But that’s coming from someone who’s never even considered giving a guy a hat in any of her stories before.

By the way, good to see you on the NaNoWriMo track!

He wears the snappy Fedora on the streets of Chicago. He might wear the Indiana Jones version in the wilds. By the way, IJ’s hat is also a Fedora. It just has a wider brim than the city version. Perhaps in the desert he finds the Aussie top more appropriate.

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