Among the Big-Headed People

My son once gave me as a present a “one-size fits all” Boston Red Sox hat.

It was a nice gesture, but hopelessly misguided. I was able to use the occasion as a “teaching moment.” The three big lies of our time, I told him, are ”The check’s in the mail,” “Of course I’ll respect you in the morning,” and “One size fits all.” There is no way, I told him, a one-size-fits-all hat is going to fit me–because I’m one of the big-headed people.


Johnny “Guitar” Watson, with large and small model heads.


I have a big head literally and, in some areas of expertise, such as the lyrics of Johnny “Guitar” Watson, figuratively.

I checked when I thought about returning the hat for a fitted one; my head measures 24″–two feet!–in circumference. From head to toe, I’m only 5′11″ dripping wet, 5′10″ on a depressing day. A thirty-four percent head-to-height ratio has got to be right up there among the all-time leaders.

“Maybe we can tape a hat on him.”


When I played Little League baseball as a kid, I used to dread the day they’d hand out the uniforms and the hats. The coach would take a gander at each kid and guess what size he needed, small, medium or large. No “L” hat ever fit me, so my hat would sit on top of my head like a cherry on a cupcake. The other kids would look away and kick at the dirt. One year, I just went out and bought an adult hat rather than subject myself to the embarrassment.


There is no direct correlation between head size and intellect. During the years when both were alive, Victor Hugo had one of the largest heads in France, and Anatole France one of the smallest, and each was a more than competent scribbler. In boxing, among other endeavors, size matters, but apparently not when it comes to (in the words of a late Boston sportswriter) putting one little word in front of another.

The popular conception is, of course, to the contrary. Highly-evolved space aliens in science fiction are always depicted with massive crania to hold their super-sized brains. The flip side of the future, however, is that as the brain grows, the heart shrinks. Aliens are always portrayed as unfeeling, uncaring creatures, as if their emotions had been cauterized when they were young.

Well, what did you expect? Their whole lives, they’ve had a universe of creatures sniggering behind their hands at them.

Ever since they went out for Little League.

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