Yeah, I've worn a toque in the summer. It was, like, 1998. I was 14. I wore a Limp Bizkit T-shirt and a wallet chain too. The toque was embroidered with a Saskatchewan Roughriders logo. I thought I was the Absolute Business because I had smoked pot, like, three times but to everyone else I'm sure I was just another dork wearing a black beanie in the heat.
That phase ended fast, followed by others of varying embarrassment until the evolution of the fine specimen pictured to the right was complete. In that time, I developed a deep intolerance for inappropriate clothing, inherited from my father. Fleece in a rainstorm, for instance. A leather vest at the beach. Super skinny jeans anywhere. I once dumped a girl because she only wore corsets, skirts and high heels, no matter the occasion. How ridiculous? I couldn't get past it.
The way we prepare for the weather says everything about who we are as people. I have the biggest winter jacket ever made. I am a wimp for snow. Wearing a turtleneck at the beach in Morocco says to me you're either completely impractical or utterly insane, and unless you're some kind of wizard I'll address your sensible friend in the tank top, thank you very much.
So, for these reasons, I believe wearing a toque in the heat is a menacing social ill that must be addressed. It must be tackled with authority and intelligent decision making to ensure that our children are safe from... whatever evils such a fashion trend may breed. Overheating perhaps, or premature balding.
It's such a baffling situation that Kevin Damaskie, sustainability coordinator at the RMOW, mentioned it in a completely unrelated interview about the official community plan update that there may be a clause in there banning toques in the summer. He may have been serious.
Of course, there are matters of vastly superior importance that a young journalist should be tackling but this has plagued me anyway since I moved to Whistler last month. I went straight to the source: Mason Mashon, a designer for Voleurz clothing, chronic wearer of toques.
"The answer is simple: glacier season," he wrote me in an e-mail. "Toques are the appropriate headwear of choice for shredding in the summer, and they're comfortable. You won't see people wearing ball caps up there because they are an impractical fit with goggles, and they will blow off if you are carrying any speed on your skis or snowboard."
He continues: "The toque also supports the image of these kids who want to be recognized as shredders. Toques and goggle tans are a sure fire sign that you are dedicated to the snow."
A startling vision: the village teeming with 20 year olds wearing ski goggles instead of sunglasses. And toques. And half of them have their arms in a sling.
But I see it. I get it. The French have their berets. The Arabs wear their headscarves. Mexicans have sombreros. It's all about fashion, man - that blossom of the soul. The toque is the snowboarder's beret. It makes sense that many of the Toque Children are of French or Quebec heritage.
But what of the health concerns? Certain fashion trends have led to serious health problems. Foot binding in China led to deformation. Tight lacing with corsets led to displaced internal organs. This is exactly the same thing. No?
"I will say there will be no consequence from wearing a toque in the summer," said Dr. Hugh Fisher outside his office at Northlands Medical Clinic. "At the very least, it will protect - minimally - their heads from their skateboarding injuries."
The Good Doctor claimed that wearing a toque in heat will not lead to overheating (they'll probably take them off), to chronic sweat or stench issues (they'll probably shower) or to premature baldness ("That's just ridiculous"). In fact, toques will hide a man's premature bald spots (e.g. their shame), affording them a more youthful look.
He and his receptionist went on to defend the use of toques year-round, laughing the whole time - at my expense, of course. The nut of it, he said, is that these toques keep their heads warm, even as the sun melts it right off their heads.
"Keeping your head warm in Whistler is like keeping your scrotum cold with a kilt in Scotland," he said.
More than that, I wonder if it's a subconscious pleading with the snow god Ullr to bring an early snow season. It's like a shredder's version of the Zuni rain dances. If they will it from the very core of their being, right up through the cap that adorns their skulls, maybe he'll bring the snow and make it brilliant.
But whatever the case, it looks ridiculous and I'm going to fight it with every atom of my being. You better watch it, Frenchy.
- published Pique Newsmagazine August 12, 2010