Karen Carcia

If there is such a term as the everafter then why not call this the everbefore? It is, indelibly, before what comes next. Consider this, a man is walking out of a hat store. He has no hat. He has just ordered a hat. It is new and beautiful, felt, brown because he likes the rich tone. He feels so—satisfied. Even though his wife will complain, he feels so satisfied. So what if brown doesn’t match his coat—he likes it. And shouldn’t there be more celebration in the world? Shouldn’t he eat pancakes for dinner if he wants? Maybe he will paint the house red as his youngest wants. Who cares? Throw a party! Call the sitter! Get a tooth pulled!

This man, he has not really come out of a hat shop because how many hat shops have you ever seen? Not many. A few, perhaps, if lucky, two. This man has no hat or has a hat that is already sufficient and he is not thinking of anything except meatloaf—and although you have eaten succulent meatloaf, a swirl of meatloaf, filled with spinach or stuffing or meat, often meatloaf is nothing but dry, and sad sitting in a glass pan, placed next to canned string beans that are soggy and lukewarm. You know well this meatloaf of closets. This is the meatloaf of the hat man. And he is sad. Like mashed potatoes. Indelibly so.

Karen Carcia is the author of On Subjects of Which We Know Nothing (New Michigan Press 2011). She is currently a Research Assistant at the University of Iowa Center for the Book.