It happened again the other night. We were looking around in Cabela’s and I found myself looking at hats. My wife commented to my daughter about how sad it is to watch me do that. Why is it sad for me to look at hats? I never find one that fits. I have a big head. Not just on the large end of the spectrum, but “almost impossible to buy for” big.
According to some data I found, I am 2.5 standard deviations over the maximum in a sample used for military helmets. I wear a size 8 1/8 hat. Nope, that is not a mistake. And it is not a size I have ever seen on a rack anywhere.
It’s hard to be an outlier, especially in a world where everything is mass produced for maximum profit. In bygone days, I could conceivably have gone to my local milliner to have a hat made to fit. Good luck finding that today (or affording it if you happen to.)
I understand the economics of not manufacturing for very small populations. The return on investment in equipment and setup for small runs is much less, though the internet has made niche manufacturing more viable. It is now possible to reach most of a small population with your product, something that would not have been feasible before.
Even the process of finding niche information has become so much easier. When I was young, if I became interested in some obscure pastime, it was a multi-step process to get information about it. I would go to a local store with an expansive magazine selection and try to find a magazine that dealt with whatever interest it was, be it archery, model trains, or backpacking. Then, in the back of the magazine, there would often be advertisements for places to send for a catalog. After several weeks, the catalog would arrive and I could possibly order some item. Today, I can open up my browser, search for a term and buy stuff within a matter of minutes.
But even with the niche-marketing possibilities of the internet, some things are still difficult to find. Like size 8 1/8 hats. There are a few, but not many. I am sure there are others with similar struggles. My wife has trouble finding jeans that are long enough. I’m still waiting for someone to publish a leather-bound ESV Bible with Apocrypha and I wish I could search for binoculars by inter-pupillary distance, the distance between your pupils. Yes, there is a correlation between my big head and the distance between my eyes.
Other kids in school made fun of me for having a big head. In some ways it was good training, I suppose. I drove down a street in Olympia yesterday that was lined with rainbow flags. (I still don’t understand why they get to use the rainbow, the sign of God’s covenant with Noah.) I increasingly feel like an outlier in my own country. My big head and my faith make me outside the norm, but I’m okay with that.