This is the story of Jay, a hat, and God.
Last week, my family graciously extended their hospitality to my friend Jay. They let him sleep in their house, eat their food, and participate in their Thanksgiving celebrations. He went to our church, got the tour of our town, essentially soaked up the essence of Roanoke, Virginia…and he loved it. Virginia, I think, completely won him over.
Of course, my family liked Jay, too. They might even have adopted him as a full-fledged son of the Cassell clan, an official member of the Church of the Brethren and a true Roanoker, had he not committed the unforgivable sin.
Jay, in his giddiness, bought (and unapologetically wore) a UVA hat.
To the uneducated or ignorant reader, this may seem like a benign action. “Well,” you may think, “he was only showing his appreciation for your state. After all, the Commonwealth of Virginia is unarguably the best state in the nation, and buying a hat with the logo of a state university can only be a good thing.”
What you may not realize, dear, uninformed reader that you are, is that the University of Virginia is a farce. Far from being representative of our great Commonwealth, the snobbery and pretentiousness of those associated with the school actually tend to sully the reputation of the majority of Virginians – those hard working, unassuming, regular people whose simple common sense tells them that the team to root for, the school whose apparel should adorn their heads, is no other than Virginia Tech.
Allegiance to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University is an assumed loyalty in the Cassell household. If you are part of our family, then you necessarily must be a VT fan. UVA fans, while still believed to possess the grace of God, are ribbed mercilessly and constantly reminded of the error of their ways. Repentance, of course, is always an option.
Jay knows these things. The Hokie décor, orange and maroon wardrobes, and constant football conversation are pretty hard to miss. He knew before going to Roanoke that I and my family were diehard Virginia Tech fans, and I can only assume that this fact was reinforced rather strongly when he met the clan. It is not a subtle part of who we are.
And yet, he bought and wore a blasphemous, navy blue UVA hat. His reason, or at least his stated reason, was that the hat represented and proclaimed his love for our state. Further discussion revealed, however, that his true motivations were belligerence, and even more odious, a preference for navy blue over maroon.
The hat sparked animated discussions. I don’t believe that Jay realized the depth of the offense that he caused me and my family. I tried to reason with him, convince him of his error, but he remained stubborn. He liked the hat, he said, and wouldn’t change his mind. I was hurt, betrayed, and planning revenge.
My family was offended, too. My dad, in attempt to remedy the situation, even went out, purchased a classy maroon Virginia Tech hat and sent it to Jay from Roanoke to Atlanta. Something was going to have to change – this offense could not be taken sitting down.
Two days ago, Jay brought the offending piece of headgear to my house, and asked Beth to wash it for him. He pleaded with me to leave the hat alone, to abandon my secret plans of sabotage. “That hat,” he said, “really means something to me. I like it, it reminds me of Virginia, and I would really, really appreciate it if you left it alone.”
He was pitiful. And I knew he liked the hat, and I knew he liked Virginia, and so I put my vengeful thoughts aside, and simply refused to have anything more to do with the hat. Beth put it in the dishwasher that night. The next morning, John, my roommate whose cluelessness had him believing for a while that Tech was located in Richmond, took the hat out of the dishwasher, and put it in the laundry room.
When I got home that evening, I noticed a hat on top of the washing machine. “What’s that?” I asked. “Um, Jay’s hat, I think,” said John. “Are you sure? Did he bring over the one my dad sent him already? I thought he just got it in the mail today…?” I was confused, you see, because the previously navy blue UVA hat sat, there on top of our washing machine, an entirely different color than the last time I had seen it. Sometime during the course of the washing process, the UVA blue was miraculously changed into a very Hokie MAROON. This was no fading or bleeding – the ENTIRE hat, outside and in, was transformed into a completely different color, the divine maroon of Virginia Tech. The embroidered V still remains above the bill, but the white stitching and orange detail now stand against a maroon background, making the hat a complete and utter bastardization of the original intent.
“Well,” said my dad when I called, laughing hysterically to share the story with him, “if he was looking for a sign from God, I’d say he just got it.”
The satisfaction from this unexpected poetic justice is immeasurable. Just one more sign that God is, indeed, a Hokie.