Let’s talk about graduation caps

Can anything more ugly perch on a woman’s head than a thin, black square of cardboard sewn to a beanie? I think not.

I’ve had the “pleasure” of wearing this cap twice — once for my high school graduation ceremony and once for my technical college graduation ceremony. And while I am so looking forward to graduation, I am not looking forward to wearing that cap a third time.

Why? Because I know it’s going to ruin my hair. (Those of you in my 8 a.m. Brit Lit class won’t believe this, but I am normally pretty picky about how my hair looks.)

As I was discussing my hair dilemma with my friends Helle and Jen, I was reminded of the distinct tradition attached to the graduation cap. So I did a bit of online reading.

In summary, I learned the graduation cap is called a “mortarboard” because its design is similar to the cap masons and bricklayers wore with pride during the Middle Ages. The cap had a twofold purpose: it was practical and social.

Practically, the men would pile mortar on top of the hat because the mortar could easily be scooped off and applied to the stone or brick they were working on.

Socially, the cap indicated that the wearer had successfully completed his studies and internship and was now considered a professional in his chosen field.

Those are good reasons for wearing an ugly cap.

Then I read this line written in “How to Wear a Graduation Cap” by Janet Beal: “You’re part of an important celebration, and, no matter what it does to your hair, your cap is an important part of that celebration.”

As I read her comment, I felt like my mother had just pinned me to the wall with one of her searing looks of silent reprimand, which clearly communicated to me: “Quit complaining. Your hair will survive the cap.”

Yes, Mom. My attitude has now been chastised and corrected.

Graduation will be an emotionally high day for me as I celebrate the achievement of a life-long dream. However, it will be a physically flat day for my hair that is pinned underneath a really ugly, but honorable cap.

I think my hair will survive the cap.

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