I used to think the Mad Hatter from Alice In Wonderland was based on “Mad Hatters Disease” – a 19th Century occupational chronic mercury poisoning among hat-makers whose felting work involved prolonged exposure to mercury vapors.

Turns out there also was a man who the author, Lewis Caroll (aka. mathematician, photographer and likely pedophile Charles Dodgeson), knew in real life. His name was Theophilius Carter and he was known for standing at the entrance of his furniture shop with a top hat on, regardless of whatever else he was (or was not) wearing. After a while, he became so notorious that people in the neighborhood gave him the nickname “The Mad Hatter.”

But why is the Hatter every creepy man? This man switches places at the tea table sporadically, making intimate remarks, asking unanswerable riddles and reciting nonsensical poetry. This man befuddles and disturbs Alice, eventually driving her away. If this is Theophilius Carter then this also is Charles Dodgeson, the creep with a camera following real (young) Alice Liddle around. This is the old guy complimenting your smile as a life saver when you were a teen, and the men who stare and ask what soup you’re having at the store. He laughs like a clown. He smells like sex in a garbage can. He smiles like James Dean but looks like Steve Buscemi.

We all love Johnny Depp, even in a red fro, but it’s best to avoid this real life Mad Hatter. He is more common than you or he will ever know, and his creep may just go beyond tea time.