By Bryan Meler
It all started with a $40 gift card to Champs Sports. It was a generous birthday gift, one I got from my best friend in the third grade. It was also one that changed my life forever.
As I made my way into Champs, I went straight to the bin labelled with a big “SALE” sign. It was a rabbit hole, a place where bedazzled G-Unit and shiny synthetic orange Charlotte Bobcat fits found their place. It was at that moment I found a hat that spoke to me. In other words, one that fit my young melon, giving my ears enough space to still hold my glasses, and for my headphones to blast 50 Cent’s “Window Shopper” or Papa Roach’s “Last Resort.”
It was a black cap with a big black New York Yankee logo, joined by another 100 smaller versions around it, but in either silver or gold. To put it simply, I looked fresh. Because it was also only $20, I got to throw in an Air Jordan headband. But I would start wearing that in high school, and only because I had first made my way up after accessorizing and building my confidence with my fitted.
It didn’t matter what I wore. I paired this mutha fucka with my church pants, my North York Cosmos soccer jersey, and any GAP sweater I wore while in Niagara Falls for a family vacay. It gave me the power to express myself, wherever and whenever.
Because of how often I wore it while sweating buckets on Miniclip.com or at my local Laser Quest, my fitted’s design would start to eventually fade out, giving the original black colour a rusted look. But I would learn to embrace it, the same way I’ve accepted the sweat stains I often develop while participating in my Intro to Philosophy class. Instead of hiding them, I simply raise my arms toward the nearest vent.
Naturally, some people weren’t a fan of my hat. Some kids went as far to tell me that I looked like Tila Tequila’s thong during a weekend in Baltimore. I’ll admit, it hurt. So much that I did spend some nights crying into my Webkinz while pounding Dunk-a-roos. But I obviously did develop some thicker skin, ultimately buying a “I Love Haters” fitted by middle school.
Now when I look back on my Yankee cap, I still get emotional because of all the lessons and morals it taught me—like when to admit you’re wrong. But thankfully, my fashion sense has always been on fucking point.