Monday, December 08, 2014

2367 Beanie

Part of my bag of DNA is the characteristic of wanting to plumb into the mildly amusing minutiae of life. By amusing I don't mean hilarious, as these essays have proven over the years, but a mild relief from the otherwise crushing boredom of existence.
So I reflect on things like beanies. 

I was at a running event recently and the organizers were handing out souvenir caps to the volunteers. And they were calling them beanies. Which I found notable in that they were knit caps. When, I wondered, did the term beanie come to mean knit cap? 

In my callow youth, beanies were woven cloth caps, round, with triangular panels. Cartoon characters who were meant to indicate naiveté or nerdity were drawn wearing such a beanie, often with a nonsensical propeller sticking from the top. Perhaps because college freshmen of the time, or fraternity pledges, were forced to endure the indignity of a beanie.

Knit caps were called knit caps. Sometimes we called them ski caps. The Canadians called them tuques. Or so we found out when the characters Bob and Doug hit the television airwaves. Bob and Doug swilled beer and adorned themselves with tuques. Some with poms on the top, what the Brits call a bobble hat.

Navy folks, and now The Edge, had a streamlined version, often in black, known as a watch cap. We called beanies "stocking caps" as well, as they sort of looked like someone had a giant stocking on his head.

Turns out "beanie" comes from British Crown countries other than Canada. Perhaps because you wear it on your British bean. To complete the minutiae, other names include sock cap, toboggan, burglar beanie, wooly hat, chook or snookie.

Apparently I'm the only one who calls it a head sweater.

America, ya gotta love it. 

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