In 2004 my employer sent me to the Democratic National Convention in Boston. Amazing trip, definitly something I will never forget. I was working, so I didn't have a LOT of time to sight see and souvenir shop but I did manage to pick up a momento. One that I still make good use of... in fact I had it on today.
Now, I like ball caps in general, but I REALLY like this one. It has sentimental value, it wears well, it has a good story behind it, I like the color... problem is when I wear it people think that I have it on because I am a Red Sox Fan.
"Your boys sure kicked ass tonight!" or "How about that Matsuzaka?" people ask as I walk past. Total strangers who otherwise would have just walked on by will see my hat and want to strike up a conversation about the game.
Hard to do when you know as little about the Red Sox or baseball or even sports in general as me. I know the Red Sox is Boston's Major League Baseball team. I know they play in the storied Fenway Park (home of the green monster). I know they won the World Series in 2004 and I know they just hired a Japanese pitcher (the aforementioned, Matsuzaka) for the ridiculous sum of 51 million dollars.
The story behind the hat is too cumbersome to tell while walking past a coworker in the hall, so I've developed a good ear for inflection. I can now tell just by the way they ask about "my boys" whether it's been a good season, whether they won their most recent game and/or whether there has been some kind of controversy putting them in the headlines. Thanks to my finely tuned ear for inflection, I can respond with an appropriate, "yeah man."
"YEAH MAN," when it's good news.
"Yeah. (sigh) Man," when it's bad news.
"Yeah? MAN," when it's shocking news.
Hopefully that mollifies the TRUE fan and I'm able to make it to my destination without looking too stupid. This CAN of course backfire when someone wants to go into greater detail, but again, my keen inflection senses let me know when it's safe to make like I know what someone is talking about, and when I should just cut my losses and come clean about the real story behind the hat.
The cuteness of the person who wants to discuss the Red Sox is also a factor in my decision, but that's a whole 'nuther matrix that would take pages to explain.
A full 5 people at various points in time and locations mentioned the Red Sox to me today. I'm always surprised the first time because I can't imagine why anyone would want to talk baseball with me. Then I remember that I'm wearing the hat. Today I gave 4 of those people the appropriate "yeah man" (three "YEAH MAN!"'s and one "YEAH? man.") and one person got the hat explanation. The one who got the full disclosure seemed disappointed. He's from Boston so I asked him if it was cool to wear the hat, even though I'm not a fan. He said, "Yeah man."