Lately I have been much concerned with the size and shape and general well-being of my head. I am slowly becoming convinced that I might be possessed of certain cranial abnormalities. Those who know me well have professed this belief for years, of course, but until now I have always denied it. However, to my chagrin, the evidence is starting to appear quite overwhelming.
Doubt first set in when I noticed people walking around with their glasses perched on the top of their head. It looked quite stylish and chic and since I often have to remove my glasses for close work I quickly developed the habit of placing them sexily on my skull. However this proved to be less than successful because within a very short space of time they would invariably fall off, generally landing in the urinal as I glanced down.
Such accidents do not make you look cool to the assembled multitudes relieving themselves in the same trough. The subsequent dampness in the hair and behind the ears after retrieving the glasses is also less than pleasant. So these days I have a poofy ribbon tied to my glasses instead and when I take them off they dangle securely on my chest instead of perching precariously on my head. When I eat my lunch, crumbs and excess gravy drop on to my glasses instead of on to my trousers, which saves me a small fortune in dry cleaning bills. However when I put my glasses back on again I can no longer see through them, which adds an interesting dimension to the drive home after work. On the other hand, when I suffer an attack of the midnight munchies all I have to do is suck the lenses - a definite plus, I think.
After a while it began to dawn on me that I never saw any of these headily-bespectacled people actually wearing their glasses properly across their eyes. So I took comfort in the supposition that they were simply making a fashion statement and must have attached their glasses to their bonce with superglue and duct tape. Nothing else could possibly explain how the spectacles stayed so firmly in place. But nevertheless the first doubts about my cranial structure began to surface...
Then I bought a walkman.
These days walkmans (walkmen?) come with unobtrusive earphones that plug directly into the earhole. I had long observed the gliterati walking around with them casually inserted, fully wired for sound. It looked excessively elegant and I was consumed with envy. The design of the earphones is such that a small stem poking out of the speaker is supposed to sit snugly in a gap between several fleshy structures in the outer ear, thereby holding the speaker firmly wedged up against the eardrum, thus ensuring that the maximum possible volume pours into the interior of the skull, guaranteeing terminal deafness within moments.
I carefully inserted sprocket flange (a) into earlobe area (b), cranked up the volume and began to walk. After two steps, both earplugs fell out. Plonk!
It was only then that I noticed a significant detail many of these ambient musicologists had cranial glasses as well as walkmans, a fact I had failed to appreciate at the time of my first observations. Could it be that they had superglue and duct tape in their ears as well as on their head? No other conclusion seemed possible for no matter how hard I tried, I was utterly unable to keep the earphones in place. My current record stands at eight (very softly, softly) paces. My doubts concerning my cranial well being increased...
Then I bought a hat.
I have long lusted after an Akubra - that Australian hat with the large curly brim that keeps the sun off both the neck and the face. It has a leather strap wrapped around the crown for decoration and the crown itself has small holes in it to aid in ventilating the head. All in all it is a masterpiece of design and recently, in Melbourne, I found a shop that sold nothing but hats, and nearly all the hats were Akubras. Who could resist?
"How big is your head?" queried the man behind the counter. I had to confess that I had no idea, never having had occasion to measure it. He cast an expert eye over me. "We'll get there by a process of elimination," he decided. "Try this one."
The world went dark as something about the size and shape of a small apartment building plunged over my head and enveloped my lower portions, utterly obscuring my vision.
"Hmmm. Looks a little large," observed a distant whisper. "Try this one."
The apartment building vanished, only to be replaced by a quarter acre suburban bungalow. Again, the world vanished.
"Not quite there yet. Have a go with this one."
This one was merely tent-like, but still so vast that an entire aboriginal tribe could have held a corroborree and gone walkabout inside it. Indeed, I think I spotted one of their camp fires in the far distance - but I might have been hallucinating because of excessive exposure to sensory deprivation.
"We may have a problem here." The voice was now sounding distinctly worried.
I tried on an example of every single hat size in the entire shop. Only one fitted me. It was the very last one I tried and it was the smallest hat he had. It was a little dusty; nobody had ever got down to that size before. The shopkeeper didn't say a word, but I knew what he was thinking: "This man has a most amazingly small head..."
Vanity suggests that it isn't me, of course. The real explanation is that Australians all have enormously big heads. Or perhaps they hold their hats on with duct tape and superglue. No other explanation would seem to fit the facts. Unless of course there really is something odd about my head...
No! No! Perish the thought! Please pass me the superglue! And the duct tape! And the gerbil!