The first question that may occur to one concerning these Silly Hat Wearing Women is philosophical: Why? Why do these Silly Hat Wearing Women do it? What conceivable reason could they have for their custom? Are their motivations primarily ethical (Is it right to wear a silly hat?), metaphysical (I wear silly hats therefore I am), existential (I do not wear this silly hat, this silly hat just happens to be on my head) or aesthetic (I like wearing silly hats)? A scientific approach suggests itself: what are the motivations and causes that have resulted in the exponential rise in Silly Hat Wearing Women in the city? One is almost tempted to write a Natural History of Silly Hat Wearing Women, but for the fact that although the wearing of silly hats has a history, it is probably not going to be a natural one.
One is tempted to ask the Silly Hat Wearing Women. However, you are likely to get a reply along the lines of, 'I wear this hat because it goes with my shoes', or, 'I got this silly hat at a wonderful price at the silly hat store, so it would be silly not to wear this silly hat', or, 'I don't know, but this silly hat looks nice, doesn't it?' After all, you can hardly be expected to a sensible answer out of a person who wears one of those things on their head.
And it is true that it is a silly time of year. While it is the custom at this time of year of some women to wear silly hats on their heads in Melbourne, other denizens of this antipodean city have equally curious habits. What, for instance, would drive an ordinarily sensible person to drop into a TAB office, pay a large amount of money on a particular horse, only to have that horse promptly lose? Not only, it seems, is it a time for Silly Hat Wearing Women, it is a silly season all round. So when it comes to the question of Silly Hat Wearing Women, let us not be supercilious.
The undeniable quantity of Silly Hat Wearing Women in and around the city gives rise to any number of problems of manners:
1) B. gets on a tram that is filled with Silly Hat Wearing Women. There are two seats left, one next to a Silly Hat Wearing Woman whose hat is a lifesize model of a pelican. The other Silly Hat Wearing Woman has a hat that is very silly indeed; some might even say it is a Downright Ludicrous Hat. Does Bob sit next to the pelican woman, or the woman with the Downright Ludicrous Hat? Does he remain standing? Or does he get off the tram instantly and decide to walk to work?
2) In preparation for a day at the races, H. places a silly hat on her head and asks her husband F. for his opinion of the silly hat. Does F. answer truthfully, and say that the silly hat is silly, or does he compliment H. on her choice of a silly hat? What does he do to get himself out of this dilemma?
3) Should men adopt the custom of wearing of silly hats, in the name of equality of the sexes?
4) A., B. and C. are all friends wearing silly hats. It is very hard to tell who is wearing the silliest hat of all. A's hat has a rose garden sitting atop. B. is wearing a ridiculously oversized Picasso replica on her head, and she also carries an umbrella with her. C. is wearing a silly hat of relatively average size. However, this silly hat has a hole in the middle of it. Suddenly, it begins to rain. As it turns out, Bs Picasso offers adequate protection from the rain. However, the rain that falls upon A. is absorbed by the roses and the mud, and consequently, As silly hat becomes very heavy. Cs silly hat, on the other hand, lets the rain through the hole, and consequently, C becomes very cold.
Does B give her umbrella to A or C? Or does she decide that her own Picasso replica must be protected at all costs?
It is therefore difficult to come to any firm conclusions about the wearing of silly hats. It is a practice which defies all orthodox philosophical or scientific questions, and the questions of etiquette it raises are profound and disturbing. In short, it seems, some women wear silly hats in Melbourne because some women have always worn silly hats in Melbourne. Indeed, the history of Silly Hat Wearing Women in Melbourne goes back to its very foundations.
SILLY HAT FACTS!
- In 1933, Mrs Brumpshire-Brumpshire, originally of Wollongong, put on a silly hat that stretched from Prahran to Werribee! It won second prize in the 'Very Stupid' category of the Greater Melbourne Silly Hat prize of that year, and was later dismantled and used around the city in various public monuments. The south-easternmost tip of Mrs Brumpshire-Brumpshire's silly hat can be found in the Melbourne Museum.
- Silly hats have been made out of a number of silly things over the years, but one of the silliest silly hat materials ever was invented by Melbourne haberdasher Madame la Goolch, of Camberwell. The material in question was woven solely out of butterfly hairs. Most of her silly hats, however, were quite unimaginative, and consequently, her sole innovation of genius was never recognised.
- Some silly hats worn over time include: a goldfish tank (complete with live goldfish), a seven-storey silly hat crafted by silly hat designers from Paris, and one silly hat that bore the entire text of James Joyce's Ulysses!
- Silly hat figures: in 1900, there were an estimated 772 Silly Hat Wearing Women in Melbourne. By 2000, this figure had risen to a whopping 4779 Silly Hat Wearing Women! For the first quarter of the century, the number of Silly Hat Wearing Men hovered around the 10/20 mark. This had risen, in the late 1990s, to approximately 972 (according to the most recent Australian Census, over 5000 Australian males declare their religion as 'Silly Hat Wearers')
The creation and export of silly hats to other parts of the world forms an estimated 0.001 per cent of the Australian economy. Our biggest customer apparently lives in Latvia!