8 September 1976
For your inquires,
There was nothing particularly interesting about it at all, you see; apart from its perfect brim and oh so slightly scuffed dome, nothing interesting at all. For what reason he picked it up, I haven’t any. However, as it were, the faintly revenant of that old and simple bowler caught mister Arnold Bean’s attention rather furiously. “By the power invested in me,” I imagine the old hat would have said, “I command thee to adopt my importance!” Of course, such are rather complicated words for a rather simple man, and even simpler hat. You see, mister Arnold Bean is the sort of person who makes a point to mention, when you first make his acquaintance, that he is most certainly not a fan of beans, whether that be baked, broiled, or even simply lima or green. Arnold Bean was not the sort of man who read old manuscripts on James Lock & Co., studied splendidly large words like ‘millinery,’ and enjoyed numerous cups of Darjeeling tea. On the contrary, mister Arnold Bean was the sort of man who spoke simple things, such as, “Beans do not suit me,” and yet be understood to say, “My preference is by far more appropriate to greater complexities in taste than anything this simple dish would suffice for.” Mister Arnold Bean was, of course, not that sort of person; he was far too simple, far too straight forward, and far too uninterested.
That is to say, then, when the whispery specter of the top hat, which casually lounged beside the uninteresting bowler, hissed out to mister Arnold Bean, in a ghostly scream, “Beware! Beware! Beware the ideas of a bowler hat!….” he was hardly dazed at all. Rather, he casually asked, “What man is that?” for which an old gentleman, hunched on a stool in the corner of the shop, with a long and wiry pipe, cracked out to mister Arnold Bean, with one eye closed and his pipe nearly falling, “A soothsayer bids ye beware!”
This, of course, meant nothing to mister Arnold Bean — such a simple and uninterested man, after all. Therefore, without knowing what a soothsayer nor even bid were, mister Arnold Bean quickly replied, “I do not like beans. Please do not offer me any!” and turned once more to the bowler, which sat undisturbed before him, the top hat howling like a ghostly wolf beside and moth ridden yellow sweaters napping on the lower shelves below.
It was as though the bowler had chosen him, as though its spirit leapt from the felt and grasped onto poor Arnold’s suspensors, yanking him forward, towards it. The world paused for that magical moment in a tacky fleece market; light-beams fluttered upon its brim and dusty fairies danced until the king knelt to take up his crown. And not the king of disco.
“I must prevent thee!” whisperly shouted the top hat, as Arnold reached for the round dome of the bowler, “the ideas are but not gone!” And yet, it could do nothing to cease the fate of mister Arnold Bean, for it were truly only a hat, silent as the corpse, which sat at Starsky’s foot.
“Et tu, then fall!” the old man cried on his stool, “And with you, should liberty? Should freedom?” he continued as he drifted into a smoky mumble with his pipe taking its greater place, “Should tyranny . . . at your felix culpa!? Should democracy . . .”
And yet, Arnold would not heed the warnings. Rather, mister Arnold Bean rose the bowler into the dusty air as though he lifted an enchanted sword from its stone; his eyes starred as great eclipses upon it.
A. B., he read within it’s dome. “A. B.!!” he shouted within his own self, “A. B.!” he shouted, rather politely to the top hat’s upset attention.
It were destiny. For all the coincidences in all the worlds, of all the hats in all the fleece markets, of all the places he could ever stumble upon, Arnold Bean found himself standing with the very hat that his father once wore, that his father before him once wore, that every Arnold Bean for as long as Arnold Bean has been named such — which is a really rather long time, as they have ceased to include numberings for the sake of the name not fitting upon a parking ticket or any other well crafted document, which no one would like very much at all — that Arnold Bean now stood, surrounded by ugly sweaters, often in vest form, and cheesy postcards filled with nickel and dime one-liners, with the one and the only stupendous hat of mister Arnold Bean.
Whether by shock, a heart attack, or the thundering clap of destiny’s hand, the top hat and the old gentleman sat silent as a graven stone. This day may very well lead to the death of Arnold Bean, as his father before him and his own in return, yet none of this mattered now. Arnold Bean had simply forgotten the top hat and old gentlemen, silenced by his lack of attention to them both, as he had forgotten any fear or any careful step in the world. Arnold Bean were now alive by a ferocious felt spirit! The grand and glorious legend of the stupendous hat of Arnold Bean had begun. He left the tacky fleece market with a happy-go-lucky skip and a well-dressed head of immortal fashion.
I suggest you do the same. For, honestly, what truly happened that hot and fateful day in September was that Arnold Bean walked into a fleece market, saw a hat he fancied, purchased it, and left. However, that is far too boring and not nearly as dramatic nor poetic as all of this; so, I embrace a lie, enjoining its clever wonder. For clever wonder and grand assumption is the very thing which makes Arnold Bean so very stupendous.
It is, though, while being a rather stupendous story, a still unnecessary detail to the famous mister Arnold Bean, who is known as far and wide as the clouds of the north and south and the vibrational hummings of Ziggy Stardust. My suggestion stands then hitherto: go and read something of importance and value, such as Julius Caesar or King Arthur. Learn of their invaluable virtues and beauty. Learn of their grandiose history. And, as you leave, you ought to understand the ironic truth to Arnold Bean’s glorious hat: and that is, that mister Arnold Bean’s hat were exactly the shape of an ordinary haricot bean — which he most gravely despised to the bottom of his mortal soul.
So, with that I bid you a farewell,
for here our story ends.