While the bells on Lutheran Church behind my window tolled for a morning service I lazied in front of the laptop surfing the waters of the Net. Starting from the bottom of my blogroll I finally came to the latest addition to dear Akaky Akakievich’ Collected Works and I couldn’t not leave a comment – which made me to miss my Pilates class, and that tells you how deeply the subject touched and moved me.
Since not all of you read Passing Parade [as you should] I’ll duplicate my comment here – and welcome all addition, critiques and tangents on the topic.
Apart from the fact that you had me in stitches from Sentence1 forward, the strange convergence of themes of hats and merkins made me think. (yes: Uh-ho)
First, I had to look the word up – and boy was I surprised; the search brought me to a delightful entry @ StraightDope dated May’93. Where, among other peculiar suggestions I came upon Scottish connection (which I only mention so you would not miss the consequent joke Cecil chose to share with his correspondent. But I digress) and then to the subject of lice in the middle- and earlier-than-middle Ages. In particular, let’s note and put aside for a moment the explanation given that “in days of old a common problem was lice. One of the ways people dealt with this was to shave all the hair off their bodies…” and return to thinking some more about the problem of the Crapping Hat.
Now, I don’t kow your uncle Paddy from Adam (or even earlier), and I beg you not to take it the wrong way if I uinadvertently offend your clan’ sensibilities. Could it be that Paddy, a methodical and common-sense man with deep tie to tradition (see his annual visits to “home” Ireland) was simply trying to divert Wrath of God in his most vulnerable moments?
Look, here’s how I see it: you Christians monkeyed so many of Jewish rituals, names, religious practice, and everyday checklist that you don’t rememeber the origins or the purpose of many of them. Like that daughter-in-law from a story that is well known (ha!): generations after generations of womenfolk in one family were using two roasting pans for cooking a Thanksgiving bird, no matter where they were or how big their holiday party was, religiously following the instruciton of their predessessors and never doubting it until a new DIL asked “why” and was so persistent that she dug out the ancient recipe written by a G-G-G-G-mother to her newly married daughter which said: “As I know your oven is on a smallish side instead of a nice big roaster for a full size turkey you can use two small ones”!
So what I am saying, in a classic manner of Talmudic scholars using tales and anecdotes to hint to the point, is maybe your esteemed uncle followed the Judaic tradition of wearing yarmulkeh (or kippah, or sculcap) as a sign of respect to the King of Kings? And if you have objections to the term I’ll refer you to the Wiki of Collective Wisdom which in the article on Kippah says the following curious things (and I quote):
-The Talmud states, “Cover your head in order that the fear of heaven may be upon you.”
-“Because the Divine Presence is always over my head.”
And now we came to even more curious phrase from the same source, the one – frankly – that makes me stare in stupor and contemplate on hidden threads and connections of Noosphere:
..simple cloth skullcap, dating back to Egyptian times when those of high society routinely shaved their heads, to prevent lice. Conversely, their skullcaps then served as protection against irritation from their wigs.
After which I will maintain a stunned silence and will not wager a guess, suggesation or contemplation of the chain of thought between the lice-protective devices of various ages.