Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan

Pierce Brosnan

Of the various celebrities with whom I’ve spoken and worked directly, Mr. Brosnan wins the prize for being the nicest.

He called. He sounded exactly like Pierce Brosnan. He identified himself, and said he wanted to buy a hat.

He has a condo in Hawaii and had seen my hats in one of the resort shops. He found my website and my phone number.

Background: I went through a period of some years when I didn’t like him because of characters he had played in movies. How dopey is that?

For me, Sean Connery was the “real” James Bond. Even worse, the character Mr. Brosnan played in Mrs. Doubtfire really set me off. I was going through a divorce at the time, and his character was an unwitting rival of Robin Williams’ character who also was going through a divorce in the movie. I thought Brosnan’s character deserved to be the victim of “a drive-by fruiting.”

Then he produced and starred inEvelyn, the story of a father who battles Irish law. The character’s wife had died and Irish law did not allow a father to have custody of his own children under those circumstances. The father fought all the way to the Supreme Court to get his children out of an orphanage and back into his custody. Brilliant. And Mr. Brosnan was the driving force behind having the movie made and the story told.

So he was most definitelyback into the Good Guy column when he called.

He wanted a Plantation style Montecristi. He wears size 7 5/8 (23 7/8 inches). I wondered if maybe he would do what Charlie Sheen had done, and buy a $25,000 hat. It’s not a frequent request. But one I always enjoy.

When we began to discuss price, he said he couldn’t imagine spending more than a thousand dollars for something to put on his head. Good to know. Fair play. We discussed hats priced under $1000.

I was so flattered and so pleased to be making a hat for Pierce Brosnan that I decided to make two and give him a choice. Everyone likes to have choices. “This one or that one” always feels better that “Take it or leave it.”

We talked on the phone a couple more times. During one conversation, his doorbell rang, or something. He needed to go deal with it, so he handed the phone to his wife, Keely Smith. (Not the same Keely Smith who was married to Louis Prima.)

She was just as nice as her husband.

She was cooking breakfast for the kids. We made small talk, then she said, “The eggs are burning. Sorry, I have to put the phone down.” Just folks. Nice people. Mr. Brosnanreturned and we finished our conversation.

After six weeks, or so, I finished his hats and shipped them to Kauai. The enclosed letter and receipt explained that I was sending two hats, to give him a choice. He could return the hat he didn’t choose, using the same box and the enclosed return label.

I was quite pleased with myself.

A couple of weeks passed. No returned hat. A couple more weeks passed. Still no returned hat.

I was becoming a little concerned, so I re-read the letter explaining about choosing one and returning one. Seemed clear enough.

A couple more weeks passed, and it was time to find out what was going on. I wasn’t having a two-for-one sale. I had his phone number, but I was extremely reluctant to call, to intrude.Eventually, I had to call.

I don’t chase celebrities. I love it when they ask me to make a hat, but I don’t try to find their agents, or send sales letters or emails, or try to get into their parties and events. If someone wants one of the best Montecristi hats in the world, I’m easy to find. Online. No store.

I once received an email from Robert Plant asking to send a tape measure to James Page. Really? I looked up at the email address. Yeah, really. I sent the tape measure. Nothing came of it. Maybe he was building a birdhouse and needed a tape measure. Okay. Glad to help. I never followed up with an email or a letter or anything. I thought about it. But no. I don’t push anyone to buy a hat. Or to buy a higher price hat. I have talked more clients down in price than up. If someone overreaches s/he might be afraid to wear it, for fear something might happen to it. Where’s the fun in that?

Most of my hats bought by celebrities were bought in Hawaii resort shops while they were on vacation. Also, many live in Hawaii. (Wish I still did.)

Reluctantly, I finally called Mr. Brosnan to ask about the hats. As always, he was wonderfully nice. He had a very interesting story about the hats.

He reported that he had chosen one of the hats. He had worn it to the beach. I know that beach well. He decided to go in for a swim. So, he put the hat on his beach chair. Then, to keep the wind from blowing it away, he put his towel over it. Uh oh. I had visions previewing impending disaster.

Sure enough, his secretary joined the group, saw the “empty” chair and sat down. Hat becomes vegetable – squash.

So, he said he guessed he’d keep the other one and return the sat-upon hat. In the interests of brilliant customer service, I offered that he should have the hat he preferred, so please return both hats, I’ll re-block the flat hat and send it back. Agreed.

The hats flew back to Oahu from Kauai. Not on their own, of course. When they arrived back to my workshop, I was eager to have a look, assess the damage, and begin the repair.

Huh. Interesting. Hadn’t expected what I found. Both hats were squashed. One considerably more than the other. Presumably the (allegedly) sat-upon hat. But the second hat also had some creases that could have been caused by vertical compression. Huh. Interesting.

The hats had been re-packed properly. Neither had damaged the other in transit. One was seriously squashed. The other was sort of squashed.

So – was The Curious Incident of the Hat in the Chair a dog-ate-my-homework story? No way to know. No way I was going to call Mr. Brosnan and dispute his story. What would be the point? I would repair both hats, regardless of what had happened to them. And I would send again the preferred hat, restored to perfect shape.

I fixed both hats and re-mailed the one he preferred. I continued to wonder what really had happened. Didn’t matter. In fact, not knowing makes it a better story.

Plus,Mr. Brosnan had been, to me, a world class Nice Guy. Can’t have too much of that in the world. It is to be encouraged whenever found and rewarded when possible.

For some years, I had enclosed with every hat a page of Hat Care instructions, suggestions, and cautions. Among other important information, clients were advised:

“Do not sit on your hat.”

After The Curious Incident of the Hat in the Chair, I added another bit of important advice:

“Do not allow others to sit on your hat.”

The Panama Hat Company of the Pacific dba Brent Black Panama Hats 1314 Center Dr., Suite B-448 Medford, OR 97501 There is no retail store at this address. (more) Toll Free: (888) 658-6500 Phone: (541) 201-3113

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