Nostalgia in a Flat Cap

Jan 4, 2016 by

Fallout 4 companion Piper Wright

Piper Wright

I haven’t played Fallout 4 yet, but with the game out since November, between screenshots and articles, I’ve seen most of the companions. Piper Wright caught my eye, but I couldn’t figure out why she appealed to me so much. She’s attractive, with a certain air of presence to her; a determination in her eyes. Her dark, shoulder-length hair is topped with a flat cap. Appropriate for a journalist who goes around asking questions and interviewing people if she’s your companion, and grants a perk that lets you be more persuasive and grant access to new areas. From these basics, I guessed that she’s curious, maybe a little restless in the way the curiouser minds generally are. Yet, there was something else, something more drawing me to her whenever her image passed across one of my social media feeds.

One day, it dawned on me. It was her hat. My dad frequently wore flat caps when I was a child. I remember him wearing them, just like my grandfather did. There was one in particular, a brown herringbone tweed one with a single snap to attach the top to the brim, that I decided to wear myself. Dad noticed and gave it to me. That hat accompanied me through a couple of changes of address, classes where I wore it as intended, classes where I wore it with the snap undone.

To the poetry workshop I attended at sixteen, wearing a cream sweater, my flat cap on backwards, thinking it looked funny with my glasses, the frames not particularly suited for my face. How, in the words of a cute boy, the cap, glasses, and my long, wide sleeves made me look like a “real writer”. That same cute boy and I later had three phone calls. We read each other our poems. Me on the other end, no longer costumed as a real writer in those moments. The date we both agreed to was undone by differences in beliefs. He wanted to bring me to a church event. I had already left religion. I remember his last name and his brown eyes. Our reason for parting, it was fair, but I still felt the tinge of adolescent insecurity; the fear of judgment. I didn’t tell him the entire reason. Yet, I was still a real writer, with or without my cap on backwards. The words always demanded passage into the world, as they still do. Though I don’t think I wore the hat backwards after that.

I remember wanting to write for a newspaper, wishing so hard for a word processor as a child. I got my grandma’s old manual typewriter first. The slightly concave keys smoother than anything I knew, clear and shiny. Moving the carriage back, learning to use carbons and correction tape, a tangibility to leaving indentations in the paper behind; traces of authenticity. My words, they existed. I could feel them. I’d mash the keys with my small fingers until they throbbed, making sure all was clear. The word processor I received a couple of years later was more forgiving of my eagerness. The keys soft, a muted breath instead of the hard, metal clacking that left my hands ringing.

Drawing out newspapers, truly zines I intended to write and distribute, but never did. Not for lack of trying, but the nearest copy machine was 10 or 25 cents each, and we were poor. I still drew them. I wrote stories, typed them up, clipped them out and taped or glued them into the layouts I spent time creating. I thought I might be headed for the newspaper one day. Maybe I’d even wear a flat cap like the generations before me. Like newspaper reporters in a forgotten age. Like my dad. Like a character in a game from 2015 but set centuries in the future. Like Piper, who draws me in.

Piper’s hat is worn, it shows the damage of the Wasteland and the effect of time. I still don’t know all that much about her, but the combination of her long red coat and that hat make her adorable in my eyes. Her appeal is partly in a sense of nostalgia, anachronistic in the setting and year of Fallout 4, and unapologetically so. Piper, I’ve learned from friends playing, approves of when the player character chooses kind options. I knew I would have to look more into Piper, even before playing the game. It began with her hat.

Piper’s hat fills me with long-ago dreams. Piper’s hat fills me with curiosity. Piper’s hat fills me with warm nostalgia.

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