...In honor of...
As you may or may not know, I get attached to material objects easily. I experience a lot of anxiety when I think about separating with something that has been with me through thick and thin, but I'm always surprised at how quickly I get over it (like 15 seconds). I'm not sure why this is -- maybe I had a favorite blankey when I was little and it was wrenched from my innocent grasp, forever scarring me and making everything a woobie-by-proxy. Furthermore, being devoid of any religious beliefs to speak of, I am a little bit superstitious. Well, I take that back. I'm really superstitious, and people messing with an important object of mine is an instant freak-out-button pusher, and I tend to react in totally visceral, irrational ways that really surprise myself. While my rational mind knows it's all bullshit, having a lucky [item] makes me feel at ease somehow, and forgetting lucky objects makes me nauseous.
That being said, I've decided to retire my red hat, aka Mr Boushi (pronounced Bo+Shi with a long "o" sound). In just about every picture since 2002, I've had a red hat on my head. I thought it would be best to write him a letter expressing my gratitude. Here goes.
We've been through a lot together. While I used to sport a USA Rowing hat in college, upon graduation and joining the Marines, I went hatless for a long time when in civilian clothes. But when I saw you at the Kadena BX in Okinawa, I knew we were meant for each other.
As you know better than anyone else on the planet, Mr Boushi, I have a tiny head, so finding a hat that fits me well is a challenge. Either way, I've used you and abused you, and while it will be impossible to replace you, I've found two candidates who should be able to make up for some of the luck you've given me.
You've been with me in all over Japan, Okinawa, Korea, Guam, off the coast of Iwo Jima, England, Vienna, Thailand, Dubai, and most importantly Afghanistan. People would ask me, "Why don't you wash your filthy hat?" While such an insipid question ought not be dignified with an answer, my response was always, "I derive my power from my hat, like Sampson's hair," but we both know the truth. I could no more wash the grit, filth, and experiences of the past 4 years from you any more than I could cleanse myself of it. It's what we are. You contain remnants of cheap Kin booze, salt from the Pacific ocean, and sand from Herat, Wardak, Bamiyan, Konduz, Mazar-i-Sharif, Jalalabad, Kandahar, and more than anywhere else, Kabul. This is what we are made of, and anyone who was there with us understands why washing that away is completely out of the question.
While I don't like the idea of retiring you, I want to be able to keep you around while you still resemble a hat. The front of your bill is getting a little thread-bare, and I don't want to wreck you should I require your services again in a break-glass-in-case-of-emergency situation. I know that people won't recognize me without you perched atop my grape, but that's just fine. While you are no longer on top of my head, you will forever be....on top of my heart.
OK, so maybe that was a little extreme and completely retarded, but he's been a good hat, and how could I retire him without giving him proper honors? I mean, people enshrine stupid shit all the time, so why can't I enshrine my hat?? I'm not sure where I'll put him. Maybe I'll make a little butsudan for him. It'll be called a boushidan. He's not dead, though. He's just retired.
Old Boushis never die,
They just fade away.
Someone famous said that.
We even had a little retirement ceremony earlier. Pass the torch, Mr Boushi, pass the torch.
Not a dry eye in the house.