I have three winter hats, all alike, in different colors. One black, one red, and one brown. These are not beanies; they are full-on hats, with a structured top and a full brim. Mostly I wear the black one, but last week I sent it out to be cleaned, so today I wore the red one.

I was also wearing my black cape-like outer garment, black yoga pants, and black potato-shoes (you know, the shoes that aren’t clogs but might as well be, and they make your feet look like potatoes). Also a light-green scarf, but it wasn’t particularly visible under the black cape thing, except maybe a little at the neck.

So I was not expecting to get a compliment on my outfit as I was leaving the store this evening. But I did: “That is quite the stylish outfit!”

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It came from a person whom I have often noticed around town before. She’s maybe 10 years, maybe 20 years older than me. She’s tall and thin and she always wears a porkpie hat, but with a wider brim. She wears her salt-and-pepper hair in two braids. I always see her in black jeans and boots.

So when she called out to me, I replied, “Thank you! Likewise!” And she replied, “Thank you!”

When I came home, I told Mr. Semiotic about the encounter. I described the woman, and he knew who I meant.

I don’t know anything about her except that she’s a noticeable eccentric in a town full of eccentrics. Does her recognition of me mean that I’m on the cusp of joining those ranks? Wouldn’t that be lovely!

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(Side note on the hats: Apparently they stand out. Twice last year, colleagues in my other town on the other side of the state commented on the black one that I usually wear. Sure, I bought them a good 15 years ago, but they’re warm and they fit my head and my face and I like them. If the comments are sarcastic, so be it; I will accept a compliment gracefully wherever I find it.)

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