Summer of The Floppy Hat

First things first. I got tickets to see Paul McCartney. I’m finding ways to work that sentence into every conversation I have. I’m telling everyone I see, even strangers on the street, up to and including dogs and homeless-looking children. You see, you score two tickets to Citi Field, and you’ll even begin speaking with street urchins. They follow each other on the wind you know, because they’ve got no place to go. But we’ll be talking about Paul more in the coming weeks, including gory details of the repeated Wings listening sessions forced upon the girlfriend.

Right now, I want to talk about summer stuff. Like baseball. We went to the O’s game on floppy hat giveaway night—the annual and much-beloved floppy hat giveaway night. At first, everything was so right–perfect weather, dumb hats, popcorn. But then it all started going so wrong.

First, they showed the Hot Dog Race animation on the jumbotron, and I cynically predicted that the hot dog with ketchup would win the race, as it had the last 4 games we went to. And then relish won. Then I got the Guess The Year jumbotron game wrong, too. Still, it got worst. Turns out the Guess The Celebrity was not “some guy from Lynyrd Skynyrd.” It was some guy from some other band. That was three strikes for me, a rough night.

And as for the actual game, it was so painful to watch that we actually left early. And I am not the kind of person who leaves early; I demand to stay until the bloody, gruesome end. But even the 15,000 free hats on people’s heads that night couldn’t help the Orioles’ bats.

At least I had a free hat. Noticing I looked quite good in it, I wore the floppy hat around town the next day. I wasn’t the only jackass wearing it either. There were hundreds of people rocking their hats. Well, that’s actually an extrapolation based on what we counted, about 3 others. But I got a lot of thumbs up and compliments on the hat. Again, an extrapolation, based on one compliment. I felt part of a very cool club. One of the envied. Yeah man, I went to Floppy Hat Night.

Thereby, I’ve proclaimed this summer the Summer of The Floppy Hat:


Each year, you gotta have your unfashionable summer thing to wear. To everything, there is a season; a time for attire with beer logos, a time for unbuttoned Hawaiian shirts flapping in the wind. Last summer, my thing was socks pulled up to my kneecaps.

But while the floppy hat is perfect to wear on the porch drinking Budweiser, or to the fine Italian restaurant where they have real tablecloths made of actual linen, one thing you don’t wanna do is wear it to DC. You could run into the Washington Nationals’ bird.


Yep, we ran into the Nationals’ mascot in DC, and Screech is a mean buzzard. Also, he smells very sweaty. He stole my hat, pretending to wipe his butt and throw it in the can. NOT MY HAT, BIRD. YOU MESS WITH THE FLOPPY HAT, YOU MESS WITH ME. So I killed it with fire, and that took care of that.

But actually, there is no rivalry between the O’s and the Nats, not when you’re competing for last place and second to last place in the entire major leagues. It’s sort of like being the pariah nerd in the cafeteria, and yet still avoiding the table with the kids with cleft lips. Everyone will still lump you in with the lowest denominator. In the Baltimore/DC metro area, we all have cleft beaks.

Yet I gotta say that one of the best games I ever went to was a Nationals game. I had free seats in a special “diamond” section, where they brought you free all-you-can-eat ballpark food. Unfortunately, I was also with my boss, so I had to restrain myself by only getting one of everything, instead of two of everything. Gorging yourself is something you only do in front of loved ones.

But there is one thing that RFK Stadium’s diamond section couldn’t rival: Camden Yards’ ballpark nachos. RFK had ’em all wrong. Completely wrong. They threw a bunch of stale chips in a plastic tray, and glopped some congealed cheese in a compartment of the tray. That’s not how you do it.

I have a diagram:


You throw stale chips in a tray with a glop of congealed cheese, but additionally, you have compartments for a glop of tepid salsa, and for a handful of preserved jalapenos. In the nachos rivalry, The Oriole Bird wipes his butt with the Nationals bird’s big sweaty hat. Really, really sweaty. And also, after eating ballpark nachos, he’s literally wiping his butt. But now I’m resorting to childish humor. On the Surfing Pizza.

Hey, what did the tree say to the mountain?
Stop peaking at me.

3 thoughts on “Summer of The Floppy Hat

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  2. Its been a few years since I’ve been down to Camden, can’t remember the last time I went. But I’ve missed Esskay hotdogs every time I’ve bitten into one that wasn’t. We have Zweigle’s White Hots up here in Rochester, NY (give it a whirl if the opportunity ever presents itself!), but I do miss those dogs down yonder.

    I remember the way the guy spelled out “Orioles,” in perfect cursive, effortlessly. I’ve tried to spell stuff with condiments before and it usually does not go well. Not like that work of art. But that wasn’t sitting in the All You Can Eat area. I trust you’ve done that at Camden before? One of my favorite ballpark food experiences ever. My then-wife and I kept adding up how much food we’d eaten ‘retail’ if you were paying for it instead of getting it for free, and it ended up being so much that one — maybe both — of our seats would’ve been completely paid for on stuff in my stomach alone.

    (Were you lucky enough to get that Hawaiian shirt a few years ago? I wept when I saw it was coming up for a giveaway; can’t exactly hop on a jet for a free shirt..)

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