Bonnets are the hot new fashion trend in Brooklyn, so one brave guy tried wearing one in Oklahoma.
Brooklyn, New York is a magical place, teeming with $8 artisan cupcakes and grown men who dress like train conductors from the 1890s for some reason.
To be fair, Williamsburg (a neighborhood in Brooklyn) law also allows you to dress up like you're in an 80s new-wave band on its way to a music video shoot. Those are the only two options though — anything else and you're immediately deported to New Jersey. (I'm kidding.)
Brooklyn is a lot like Narnia, in that I don't have the wardrobe to make it there. And Brooklyn's latest barrier to entry/normalcy? Bonnets.
That's right — Little House on The Prairie, women-were-property era half-burqas. I suppose listening to 1,000 Mumford and Sons-esque indie bands who sing about living off the land (when they're actually just living off a trust fund) really fostered a longing for Americana fashion.
So naturally, I had to try it ... in Oklahoma. And I know what you're thinking: "That ultra-conservative, Bible-belt state that hands out death penalty sentences like AOL free trial CDs in the 90s? They'll totally be open to hipster gender-bending fashion that they don't understand!"
1. Guatemalan restaurant:
You cannot stand astride the fashion world and tear it asunder on an empty stomach. That's just biology. As I walked in, I immediately noticed I was receiving some serious side-eye. I couldn't tell if the nervous tension was solely coming from me, but certainly nobody wanted to engage me.
And then, an elderly Hispanic woman who turned out to be our waitress said the most beautifully hilarious thing I've ever heard in my life. Through her (presumably) Guatemalan accent, she said sweetly, "You remind me of my country. This is how we dress babies in my country."
It was then and there that I knew I was going on an adventure.
Fun fact: drug money isn't the only thing that can be laundered. When I walked in, a young child exclaimed, "Oh my!" and I silently agreed with him. I did look quite stunning.
A woman doing her laundry told me my bonnet was pretty, and I told her, "Thanks. It makes me feel beautiful." She said I was pretty and then the laundromat flooded, so I was no longer the center of attention and spectacle I hoped I would be going in.
3. McDonald's drive-thru:
You simply cannot shock a McDonald's drive-thru worker. There are 98347589374 "prank" YouTube channels and every single one of them has the same video of them grabbing an ice cream cone by the ice cream at a McDonald's drive-thru.
At this point, they're probably relieved when they see a knife-wielding PCP addict at 3 AM. So when I rolled up to get my McNuggets with a side of Lipitor, it was lovely to hear the lady at the window exclaim, "You just made my day!"
Then I thought about the implication of me being the highlight of her day and got sad again.
4. Gas station:
As I filled up my tank, two large bearded men — who I can only imagine are NASCAR lumberjacks or some other paradigm of manliness — told me I had a pretty hat.
I thanked them for their honesty and for not telling me I had a pretty mouth. I now fully understand what it's like to be catcalled on the street. I feel your struggle, ladies.
As you might imagine, a dude with a full beard and a bonnet is far from the strangest sight you'll see in a Walmart, so I flew under the radar a bit. However, an employee sauntered up to me as I waited at the deli counter for my pepper jack to ask me what bet I'd lost to be wearing that bonnet. He followed with, "We were all wondering..."
This left two possibilities: Either a contingent of Walmart employees were stalking me from the shadows and leering at me, or the "we" he referred to were the other voices in his head. Both were equally likely, and equally terrifying.
6. Park festival:
A beer vendor told me he would give me a discount for the bonnet, laughing, but that he would have to charge my girlfriend more money to compensate. I'm not really sure what his point was, but being the financial wizard I am, I bought both beers and gave her one.
All in all...
Everywhere I went, people were super-positive about the whole thing. I expected more awkwardness and leering, but mostly people just appreciated the novelty of it.
The experiment clearly failed in terms of fashion, but with all the random compliments I received from men and women alike, my confidence has never been higher.