Mom and her brothers, all seven, loved messing with people more than breathing. Those who inherited the Bob Hope ski slope nose seemed to excel at it. But those with Wilson’s noses were close second in that talent. Uncle LW could pull out his wallet at a restaurant and count his five dollar bills in a way that would make you think he had a hundred dollars.
Mom must have forgotten that the day her brother, Cordon, asked her to help buy a hat for Grandpa. Those were the days when a man rarely went out without one of those Sinatra-style hats. Cordon and Mom knew where to shop. More importantly, they knew the size of Grandpa’s hat.
Mama and Cordon walked to the corner and took the city bus directly to Wright’s Men Store. They sold the best hats in town except perhaps the hatbox. Wright’s was fine for most people.
They looked at the season’s display and chose the style and color that Grandpa wanted. That’s when the problem started. Cordon made his move and called the store clerk to help him finalize the purchase.
The point was, Cordon’s hat size was about two sizes smaller than Grandpa’s. But he didn’t say that to the vendors and silenced Mom when she tried to intervene. Cordon lowered his hat over his eyes and ears as low as possible and said, “I like this one.” Annie, what do you think?
By then, Mom was hiding behind clothes racks as far away from the clutter as possible. The store clerk valiantly tried to get Cordon to try on a hat that would fit him. But Cordon didn’t move. He insisted that the hat was perfect.
Mom’s family had an amazing ability to say almost anything with a face as serious as someone in the public defender’s office. It is surprising that we have not needed their services.
Yes, I said us. Those talents run strong and deep in our Scottish-Irish blood. My husband, after almost thirty years of marriage, swears that he still doesn’t know when I’m cheating. That’s just a fancy way of saying “pulling his leg.” (That skill came in handy when I was teaching. I had a field day with my class every April 1. I was April Fool’s Day queen until my nephew toppled the throne last year. My older brother taught him well) .
Back at Wright’s posh men’s store, the assistant and even the owner finally stopped reasoning with Cordon. Made your purchase with pride. With his hat still firmly on his nose, he strutted out of the store, shouting loudly, “Has anyone seen my sister? A short redhead? She was right here.”
That was a long bus ride back to Worth Street.