The whole crowd watched in awe as the magician produced from his silk top hat not just a line of brightly colored handkerchiefs and a rabbit from his hat, but a whole flock of doves, a seemingly endless progression of eggs that he juggled easily then broke open to reveal they were already perfectly scrambled, and a blast of fire.
The whole crowd except my companion, who sat impassively beside me through that whole portion of the performance.
“What, aren’t you impressed?” I asked her.
“Are you kidding? All this is just the set-up,” she said. “I’m waiting for the real trick at the end.”
“What’s that?” I asked.
“When he puts it back on,” she said.
STRAIGHT TO HIS HEAD
“To succeed as a manager,” he told me as he leaned over behind his desk and pulled open a drawer, “you’ll have to learn how to wear many different hats.”
“So it’s important to be flexible?” I asked.
“No,” he said, lifting out a little black pillbox hat which he set atop his head, then adjusted the netted veil. “Fashionable.”
They had spent three hours in their first visit to the outlet mall. After that had come two hours at the big shopping center in town and over an hour in each of three department stores that anchored the indoor mall. At each locale, they had stopped wherever there were ladies’ hats available, and a few places where there men’s hats or even caps, and she had tried on many, many different examples of headwear in many different styles and slight variations of size.
None had satisfied her. One hat in one store at the outlet mall had seemed promising early in the morning, but she had put it back, saying that she needed to see some more before she could be sure. Each time she extended the quest to include another location, her husband had suggested that they just go back to the outlet mall and find the hat she’d liked there. So, he couldn’t bring himself to complain much when, even after all those hours in the other stores, she declared that she wanted to do just that.
They returned to the outlet mall, where it was getting near closing time for most of the stores. He hurried ahead in his excitement to be done, but had to keep doubling back because she strolled serenely long at her own pace. They arrived at the little store and she went right to the hat that had seemed so promising that morning. She looked at it, gazing up and down, sizing it up mentally and squaring it away with the mental image of all the other hats that she’d seen and tried on that day.
“Yes, I do think so,” she said. “This… this one’s just right. It’s the perfect hat.”
“Would you like to buy that today, then?” the nearby salesclerk asked.
“Oh, dear, no,” the woman said. “I’m not shopping for hats. I just wanted to find the right one.”