DARAIN HOUSEN HAS not taken off his hat for the last 20 years. He bathes, he sleeps and does everything possible in it. It is a perfect fit.
But unlike other hats, his is not made of cloth but from the very hair on his head which is why it cannot be removed.
Housen has been sporting his 'natural hat' hairstyle for the last 20 years. The 40-year-old barber who lives in Somerset, St. Thomas said he came up with the idea after some of his friends decided to wear hats to a party but he could not find one to wear.
"Mi an dem fi go a di party but di three of them had caps an' mi had none so mi get two mirror one behind mi and di other in front of mi an' mi trim mi hair like a cap an' go a di dance," said Housen.
Housen said his hairstyle created such a stir that he got a crate of beer to share between he and his friends.
"Dem did love it," he said smiling. "Mi friends an' some of the girls said I win di hairstyle contest and buy mi a box a Guinness," he said.
Housen said the morning after the dance he clipped the rough edges and then for six months he kept growing the 'peak' but since then he has not made major changes to his 'hat'.
FLIRT WITH DANGER
The 'hat' has shocked and awed everyone including policemen, tourists and judges. It has even caused him to flirt with some danger. Housen said that he was once stopped by a policeman while coming from a dance early one morning who insisted that he removed it.
"Him shine di light pon mi an' look. When him see it seh a mi real hair him frighten an' seh mi mus come check him a di station di following morning. When mi go him shake mi han' an' seh mi have talent an' mi fi keep it up," he said.
On another occasion Housen said he was ordered by a judge to take off his 'hat' while on jury duty.
"A di policeman have to tell him seh is mi hair. Him congratulate mi an' tell mi seh mi have talent," he said smiling.
Housen said people from all over the island have taken photos with him but while he has become quite an attraction he has never charged a fee to touch his hair or have a photo of it taken. There is no doubt about Housen's fame as when THE STAR was searching for him in order to do the interview the team only had to mention 'the man with the hair hat' and we were pointed to where we could find him.
The barber does not have a permanent shop but instead moves through communities in northern St. Thomas cutting his customers' hair. He said he has had requests from other persons to cut their hair in a similar style but the texture of their hair has not made it possible.
Melbourne Horne, Housen's friend for the last 13 years said the barber once sported a felt hat.
"When mi jus' know him is a felt hat him did a beat. So, nex ting mi know him change to dis type a hat. Di only ting him do now a colour di front in a yellow or some other colour," he said.
If at some stage he loses his hat Housen says he would be quite uncomfortable. "I would a feel light without it because a long time mi have it so mi would a feel a way without it," he said.