Monday, August 30, 2010




: to fly low in an airplane in a reckless manner : hedgehop

I want to recklessly abandon the literal source of this definition—flying a plane so low its belly skims the hats off pedestrians—and try to use FLAT-HAT in a way that doesn't involve aeronautics. For example: I'm thinking of the scene in What's Eating Gilbert Grape during which Mamma Grape actually leaves the house to bail Arnie out of jail. While driving down the dusty Endora road, Mamma's great weight depresses the passenger side of the old car causing the vehicle to FLAT-HAT the pavement. This film still amazes me—DiCaprio's humility, Depp's dry wit, Lewis' highly manipulated vacancy. I initially and reluctantly saw it in the theatre when I was thirteen; my friend dragged me there because she thought DiCaprio looked like a boy she liked. We laughed at Arnie the whole time, feet up on the seats, getting sneers from other moviegoers. Thirteen is really a difficult age—old enough to want something, young enough to destroy all possibility of getting it.

Skimming, brushing, grazing. I think also of the bottoms of feet FLAT-HATTING the sand as a swing slows down. I used to swing for hours as a child. During school recess (wouldn't you believe it, it's just my luck) I would run from the brick building to secure a seat—there were only eight or ten total, and swings were a hot commodity. I suppose it was a security issue. If you swung, you were busy at task, as opposed to wandering around aimlessly with nothing to occupy yourself, asking to be a target for insult. Swinging was safe. I would swing, too, when I returned home from school, on a rickety set* in my backyard. Listening to a tape on my walkman, I swung and sang out loud until the side ended. Then I slowed down, flipped the tape, and continued to swing. Sometimes I brought another tape in my jacket pocket so the session could go for a second round. Though I consistently did this, the only accompaniment I can recall is the soundtrack to Dick Tracy.

Stepping back further, skipping stones on Long Island Sound, FLAT-HATTING the polluted water with smooth pebbles, bare feet in the cold sand, wind tangling my long, straggly hair, dirt under my painted fingernails, wanting to be as good as my mother whose stones bounced four or five times toward the horizon.

*The set remains, though crippled. One leg has rotted off at the top, leaving a three-legged contraption with one rusty stump suspended in mid-air. Tetanus waiting to happen.

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