Dr. Alan Grant arrived on Isla Nublar not knowing what danger lay ahead, a red multi-tool tied around his neck. If that sounds a bit uncomfortable, the tool I refer to is a piece of cloth, not one made of metal and plastic bearing sharp points and corkscrews. It’s a bandanna — that simple piece of cotton that offers a myriad of uses. I never noticed if Dr. Grant ever removed his red bandanna in the movie “Jurassic Park,” but the potential was there, that simple cloth available if the need arose.
The word bandanna, also spelled bandana, derives from the Hindi word “bandhnu,” which means tie-dying, from “bandhna,” to tie. It’s the icon of cowboy and biker and, in movies including “Jurassic Park,” tropical adventurers.
I have carried pocket bandannas for years, switching, as my smaller handkerchiefs disintegrated into useless fringed fragments, to the larger, colorful swatches of cloth. My use began first out of occasional necessity, when cold viruses kept me draining and sneezing, then to a regular partnership when a long-lasting skirmish with Epstein-Barr virus (mononucleosis) played havoc with my sinuses, causing permanent partial congestion. My sinuses have calmed down considerably over the years, due in no small part, in my opinion, to changes in diet, and my bandannas have thus gone largely from nose wipers to multi-tools.
As I said, I carry a bandanna in my pants pocket, and I carry one in my barn coat pocket, where cold weather and hay dust, especially when cleaning the goat stall, force me to resort to using it as a remover of nasal emissions. But I also have begun adorning my neck with these cotton cloths, so that red kerchief ’round Sam Neill’s neck made me sit up and take notice.
You could say I own a few bandannas. Tending heavily toward the OCD spectrum, I have trouble owning just one of something, according to the person who lives with me and all my collections. For example, during a visit to friend Dale in Lincoln, Nebraska, and the immense Fort Western store, purveyor of all things western past and present, I bought a bag full of bandannas, one of every color I like that I lacked, especially orange, which, before that trip, was as readily available as brown leather jackets in a Harley-Davidson store. Since then I seem to encounter bandannas in a bonanza of colors everywhere I go, including one decorated with chili peppers, of which I naturally bought two. Last weekend a rough count showed I have maybe 60.
It’s important to own bandannas in a wide range of colors when you wear them as accent pieces. Sure, I could just wear black — I have two or three of that shade — but what fun is that, and black would disappear against a dark shirt. And if you need to wrap a bandanna around your head to protect yourself from the blazing sun, black is a poor choice, for sure.
I’ve mentioned a few uses for bandannas here: the classic cowboy mouth cover; the Harley rider’s head wear; pirate head gear, which in the alleged manner worn by movie pirates is more the length of a scarf; a tourniquet when a South American milk snake bites you; or as a hand up when you’re sinking in quicksand, a hair’s breadth out of reach of the hand of your would-be savior. One bandanna I bought came with a card stating this versatile cloth has a hundred uses. I’ll have to do some thinking on that, but not here. Maybe I can make a list on my white bandanna.
- American Indians
- C. History
- Civil War
- D. Books
- E. Clothing
- Historical Clothing
- Historical Festivals
- Musical Instruments
- Ohio History
- Old West
- Revolutionary War
- World War II