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The Nameless Hat

Dreamed late 1930s by Elizabeth Kew

A consuming desire to be early at Selfridge's sale caused me to hurriedly descend to the hall by sliding down our stair-baluster, and strange to relate I landed outside our front door just in time to hail a passing taxi, which carried me along at such an amazing speed that in a few seconds I arrived at my destination, and began pushing my way through the crowd of bargain hunters.

Presently a tall man with four arms came to me and said: "Madam, I'm your guiding star, so tell me what you want to buy first."

"Hats," I replied.

"Yes, madam, hats are known by their surnames, so tell me the name of the hat you are wearing, and I'll take you to the right department."

"Rubbish! My hat has no name, you silly!"

"Hie, guard!" he yelled. "Take this woman in charge--a case of nameless hat, and abusive language to her guiding star."

It was useless to struggle, and I soon found myself standing in the dock, confronted by weird-looking creatures in long wigs. As they wagged their funny heads at me, I cried: "Upon my word, you must be the same worms I dug up from my garden yesterday, and tossed over the fence."

"The impudence of you, calling your judge a worm! I'll strike five years off your life!" roared the fattest old fellow.

"You ridiculous fat worm!" I laughingly replied.

"There! Now I'll have twenty years off your life," he yelled.

At that, a solicitor arose and said: "My lord, you forget the prisoner is a woman. Already she is looking younger."

This remark made me fear the sentence might be made less to my liking. I therefore fled from the dock, scattering years from off my life like falling leaves in autumn.

--Elizabeth Kew--


This account is from The Dream World (Ed. R.L. Megroz, 1939). It sounds like literary mimicry of dreaming, a la Alice in Wonderland--too good to be true--but Elizabeth Kew sent it to Megroz knowing he wanted real dreams, so I'm inclined to believe her. I've had dreams that seem to others to be waking concoctions. One good example even shares her haberdashery theme: Old Hat.

Also, Kew's comic dreams have consistent underthemes which Nameless Hat exemplifies: conflicts with male authorities who don't believe her. When she sees her judges are worms, psychoanalysts of Kew's time would have interpreted them as penises, and jumped to the conclusion that the dream is therefore about sex. Close, but no cigar! I think it's about gender. Kew sees her judges as (not to put too much on an anachronistic slang phrase, but it does fit) dickheads.

Kew's rebellion rejuvenates her, but even before her sentence, she acts like a kid--zooming down stair-railings, sassing guards. The tone is like Alice's "You're nothing but a pack of cards!" But rather than Alice in Wonderland's child-judgment on adult pomposity, this is an adult woman's judgment on male idiocy. "What a bunch of dicks."

--Chris Wayan

LISTS AND LINKS: clothing and fashion - the power of naming - guides - forewarned is certainly Four-Armed - injustice - trials - bugs and worms - Emily Dickinson's dream of an accusatory Worm - dream-puns - age-bending - gender - dream humor - more Kew: Ingenious Advertisements - another woman loses even more years in: The Goddess of Wyre

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