ERNIE AND ERNESTINA: Searching
Book Two, Chapter 107: A Summer Straw
I was born with blue eyes, blonde hair, and fair skin. This combination makes for sensitivity to the sun, so I wear hats.
I happen to like hats; they hide me when I feel like hiding. Now that it’s spring and the sun’s getting stronger I want a straw hat, so I visit my favorite thrift shop to look for one.
It’s three weeks to Derby so hats abound — a tree of men’s hats, two trees of women’s hats, plus hats on the heads of mannequins throughout the shop. I try on a Frank Olive, its crown layered with filmy white fabric studded with pearls. Definitely a Derby hat — maybe even a bride’s hat — and definitely not me.
I try on a white hat with wired brim. I like it but it doesn’t like me — too bright white. I try on a straw cap; the straw’s too green — is the word bilious applicable? I spot a Laura Ashley hat, but try as I might I can’t shape it into a hat that looks good on me.
A hat, bronze with gold glints, calls out to me. I check the label: Marks & Spencer. I try it on. The crown fits my head, and the wide brim protects my face and hides it. Good. I take off the hat to study its weave: threads of brown and tan and white and gold. Similar to my hair. Good.
I leave the shop wearing my nearly new hat. Bring on the spring green. Bring on the summer sun. I’m ready.