Last week I treated myself to a shopping spree at the Village Hat Shop in Hillcrest. I decided I wanted to find myself some fancy hats for the holidays. Although I’ve had my final chemo infusion, I’m expecting to be bald for a while – based on what I’ve heard anecdotally, I’m guessing that my hair won’t start growing back for six weeks (so, mid-January); and even by four months out it’ll still be reeeeeally short. So I’ll be in hats, scarves and wigs (oh my!) for a while.
I’ve learned a lot about wearing hats while bald these last several months – knowledge that hopefully will never become useful again. I had a feeling from the beginning that I’d be more of a funky hats & scarves person, rather than a wig person, and that’s been generally true – although I am glad that I bought one really nice wig. (I also bought a cheap purple wig that I have not had the opportunity to wear. Maybe New Year’s?)
But I’ve definitely been more hat than scarf. It’s just easier. It’s a vicious cycle: I’m not good at tying the scarves, because I don’t wear them often; and I don’t wear them that often because I’m not good at tying them. Scarves are definitely the coolest option, so now that the weather has finally cooled off a bit, I have even less motivation to figure out the tying thing.
The other problem with scarves is that, despite what everyone says, they really scream “cancer.” Whenever acquaintances see me with a scarf, I get a polite version of the “do you have cancer?” question. Not that hats are so fashionable these days that they don’t raise questions either, but somehow a scarf just screams “I am a cancer patient!” Not that I care that much, but there it is.
Initially in my first hat shopping sprees I focused on hats specifically designed for women going through chemotherapy. The hats are indeed different, because they cover more of your head. “Normal” hats very often leave the lower back of your scalp exposed. You can even buy buff-colored headbands specifically to wear under “normal” hats for this reason. In retrospect I’m glad I bought several of these cancer-specific hats. My go-to hats are all full-coverage newsboy caps: one each in black, navy, and brown.
The cancer-hat people also sell beanies and caps, and I bought a few of these, but never seem to wear them. They also seem to scream “cancer” to me. Part of the problem is that, without hair, they kind of cling to your head. When I first got them and tried them on (with hair) I thought they looked cute. They sell terrycloth caps that are meant to be worn under such hats to give them volume, and I’m sure that works fine – but now we’re back to the fact that I live in warm & sunny San Diego and have no interest in layering on two hats.
Back to my recent holiday hat shopping spree. I’ve been bald for four months, and if I wasn’t particularly self-conscious when all this started, I’m even less so now. The shop was staffed with all men (probably gay but who knows – it was Hillcrest after all), and again, it’s a normal hat shop – they don’t cater to cancer-heads like me. But they were completely unfazed by me walking around bald-headed, trying everything on. And as expected, depending on the style, there’s a little scalp showing in the back on some of my selections, but I’ve sped so fast past “giving a shit” that I practically have whiplash. I’m thrilled with my purchases and glad I waited for this more evolved version of a hat shopping spree, so that I know better what I want.