I’m writing another post from this beautiful little farmhouse cottage on the Eastern Shore of Virginia, partly because we’ve had an amazing trip, and I know reentry into the real world will be a bear.
Partly because I’m disoriented regarding the calendar and didn’t realize I needed to write another one this month—July has five Mondays. Five!
And partly because the activity for tomorrow will find the very indoorsy-ish me in the outdoors for at least five hours, maybe eight. The two brain cells I’ve been operating on, although doused in 80 SPF repeatedly, will likely shrivel and die in the 100-degree heat index. I’d like to save them for work on the next manuscript.
So, I got to thinking… I need a hat. A floppy one with a brim all the way around to accommodate my skin type of burn, blister, repeat.
Problem is, I don’t have a head for a hat. I’ve tried many styles over the years, and I can’t pull them off. I do sometimes envy the gals that can plop on a cap and go.
I’m not one of those gals, and that’s okay.
Last summer in Vegas, my writer friend was buying hats as souvenirs for her kids. I kept trying different ones on. “What do you think?”
Each time, I was told, very clearly, “No.” I appreciated her bluntness. It confirmed what I already knew to be true. I don’t have a head for a hat.
But this summer, Chincoteague, VA has activated freckles I didn’t even know I had. I don’t need sun poisoning on top of it all. So, I tell my travel buddy we need to go to Walmart to get a cheap floppy sun hat.
Set the GPS, and…I spot a Cato clothing store along the way. We stop.
My friend goes off to the clearance rack. I go off to the hats. They’re also on clearance. I find a straw-ish one with a brim. Plop it on my head, duck to try to see myself in the sliver of a mirror they provide, and decide it’s good enough for a boat ride where no one, NO ONE—except this friend—will ever see me again.
A boat ride where we’re told to wear old clothes and bring towels for the mud. Not a prissy cruise, folks…
We meet up in the middle of the store. In front of the clerk.
She shows me her shirt.
I show her my hat.
She wants me to try it on.
Then it starts. We’re now giving yet another employee more than a few somethin’s to talk about with our banter that I know for a fact strangers cannot distinguish between friendly or keep your finger on the alarm button because we ‘bout to see a cat fight.
She makes a face. I roll my eyes. “It doesn’t even matter because no one’s gonna see—”
“It doesn’t even fit your head.”
“I don’t care.”
“Oh, put that back. We’ll find something at Walmart.”
Like a child, I stomp back to the accessory display and put it back. I find a ball cap with a cute little happy vibe thing on the front. I could use some cute, happy little vibes. It’s not the all-around brim I was hoping for, but I plop it on. I liked this one. Or at least I thought I did until she told me what I thought. Then I knew I didn’t know what to think. What would I do without her?
I think I hate hat shopping. I know that.
“What do you think?”
“Well, it’s okay.”
Two problems with her reply. The first is anytime someone starts a sentence with “Well.” You know what I mean.
The second problem cannot be conveyed in print alone. You must understand that with the “okay” her voice went up two octaves. In other words, she squeaked the ending.
The Hubs does that. Squeaks his endings when he says something he thinks I want to hear instead of just telling me direct. Be like my writer friend. A clean, crisp “no” would’ve done it. Don’t go all squeaky on me. Squeakers are for dog toys.
On the way to Walmart, we find a Marshalls.
“They’ll have hats.” She’s excited.
I’m overjoyed that she’s excited.
She goes her own way with a cart (my cue that she’s gonna be a while), and I head to the accessories.
I grab four hats. I leave the one I really like because I don’t want to hear her squeak, I don’t want to be told what I think, and I don’t have a head for this accessory anyway.
This mission is to protect my two remaining brain cells from supernova UV rays on a muddy boat ride where NO ONE WILL SEE ME AGAIN.
I find her on the other side of the store, cart already piled with outdoor toys for her grandbabies. The first thing that popped into my mind is that I’m not sure where we’re gonna fit all this stuff in and around the bolts of fabric she scored in Ohio, but I keep my mouth shut. She is, after all, making my office goose her capes.
I try on the brimmy hat.
“Well.” This “well” comes with its very own squeak.
Try the other brimmy hat.
I rip it off my head and plop on a baseball cap. “Better,” she says. No squeak.
“Sold.” A squeakless “better” is better than suffering through another high-pitched “well.” I toss the other two options back on the rack.
Then she sing-songs, “I bet they have a Goodwill around here. We could find you a floppy one there.”
Now let me pause and explain something. I’ve shopped Goodwill all my adult life. Garage sales, thrift stores, auctions. I am by no means a snob when it comes to purchasing second-hand items.
But there are a few things I will not—NOT—buy from Goodwill.
Guess what’s second on that list? A hat.
I’ll let you use your imagination regarding the first.
I relay this to my friend.
“Oh, we could wash it. It’d be okay.”
I go full-on snark. Mothers gather their children closer and move to other aisles as I let loose. “What’d you do on your trip, Beth? Well… We saw wild ponies and bought fabric for grandbabies and goose capes (not cactus fabric, because those were olives). Tried new foods, stumbled onto an epic baby crab exodus, and didn’t get kidnapped. What else? Oh. Yeah. I remember. I got lice. I got lice on my trip.”
Lest we end up giving yet another employee reason to hover over the little red button behind the checkout, I bought my hat and left travel buddy in Marshalls to fill, empty, fill, empty, fill and empty her cart (she has a whole process, come to find out).
I head down the plaza to The Book Bin, a wonderful little shop with comfy places to sit and old typewriters, and a gal making fresh strawberry acai lemonade. Where the air conditioning masks the heat index and the roof negates the need for a hat—bonus that they don’t even sell hats. Best of all, everything I choose fits just right. And no one squeaks at me.
I dream, I plan, I think about the next writing project.
I spend a gob of time here. Spend a gob of something else too, but the Hubs reads my blog.
We never did make it to Walmart…