ELLEN MARCUS: The Hat Was The Attraction, Not the Wearer
Still unattached, people were starting to talk.
One day I looked out the window and saw a guy wearing a cowboy hat building a fence. I called my Granny and asked her to investigate. She pulled out her binoculars and started making calls. Within the hour she called back and said he was the grandson of a neighbor.
I ran through the woods down to Granny's. We got in her car, and we drove up the road. She introduced me, and he was darn cute. He had just got out of the army, worked for the highway department and rode bulls. Yes, sir, he had all the makings of a real fine catch.
A few days later he called and asked me if I wanted to go for a ride. I told him we could take my car. I was very proud of my first car -- a shiny black 1966 Chevy Bel Air. My friends called it the Batmobile.
I drove through a maze of sandy lanes down to the artesian well and convinced him the sulfuric swamp water was the sweetest he would ever taste. He took a big gulp and almost turned blue before he stopped coughing. I showed off my driving skills by turning doughnuts in the sand. I told him everything I knew about the swamp. I was wearing my cute lavender Puma crop top and my favorite jeans that had an embroidered rattlesnake wrapped around an oil well on the back pocket. He didn't stand a chance.
Within weeks we were a couple and within months engaged. My mother looked worried. My daddy shook his head. And then my cousins from California came to visit.
After they left, my mama called me into the kitchen and asked me if I would like to go to California. I had traveled only as far as Arkansas and had never been on a plane.
Before I knew it, my mother was handing me a small fortune of $300 in travelers' checks. My parents drove me to the airport. My daddy had to leave the truck running because he had forgotten the jumper cables, but other than that my departure went off without a hitch.
Once I was on the plane the stewardess came up and asked me rather loudly if I was okay. She then took my hand and told me everything would be okay. Apparently my mother from the Texas end and my aunt from the California end had called the airline and let them know in no uncertain terms that they were not to lose me. So I was escorted at each layover to my next flight and treated like I was a few bricks shy of a load. (I didn't mind the attention or sitting in first class.)
Once in California I extended my stay twice. My daddy called and told me I had to come home. The stewardess put me on a plane to Hawaii by mistake, but my aunt ran on and pulled me off right before it departed. I was disappointed. I had hoped to go to my first luau.
While in California I never thought to call my "fianc." In fact, I was trying to figure out how I could move to California when I arrived back in Texas.
It wasn't a month later that we I broke up. I told him I was going to become an archaeologist, and he told me I was going to be a school teacher.
Months later my little brother and I were sitting in a tree eating pomegranates and spitting the seeds at each other when he drove by. He saw us and pulled over. I climbed down. He looked all weird and kind of short and then I realized he wasn't wearing his hat. I couldn't help but wonder had I fallen for him or his hat? He showed me a photo of his new girlfriend and told me how pretty she was.
I agreed she was right pretty. He shook his head as if waiting for me to say something. So I asked him where his hat was. It was clearly not what he wanted to hear. He got in his truck and drove off into the sunset.
Content to be unhitched, I happily waved good-bye.
Ellen Marcus is an Aberdeen freelance writer. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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