This story is about a crazy ear-flap winter hat.
It takes place in Canada – the Great White North where winter is an
intimate reality. It gets up your nose and freezes the fine hair. It
enters the ears and turns the little grey cells to braincicles. It
goes down the back of the neck or up the sleeves of the coat or,
somehow, through the toes of the boot and chills every pore in its
path. Clearly, in these conditions, a hat is an essential piece of
survival equipment. In fact, the government should fund the purchase
of them. Except their hats would certainly be hideous, utilitarian,
and drab green.
The type of hat in question is one with the optional ear flaps. The
flaps can either be tied up, or left down for extra warmth. The sides
of the hat wrap along the cheeks and are secured under the chin. This
particular hat is fuzzy and furry, matched with fuzzy and furry mitts.
As fuzzy and furry as you are thinking they are, imagine them even
fuzzier and furrier.
These bear-like accessories are the recent happy purchase of my
sister, who has reached that point in her life, finally, when it
doesn’t matter anymore what people think of what she’s wearing or how
she looks. There had been too many brain frozen-hypothermic-amputated
toe winters. The fuzzier and furrier the hat, the better. She was
going to be warm, darn it, everyone else could do their worst.
She went to the bus stop one afternoon, to collect the Peanuts after
school. She noticed the other parents eyeing her hat, but it wasn’t
until the boys spilled off the bus and kept looking at her head
quizzically that she started to wonder if she had made the right
Then Number One helpfully pointed out, “Mom, you still have the hanger
tag on the top.”
She hadn’t removed the plastic hook the hat hangs from in the store.
“It looks like you have a question mark on your head!”
She was the answer with the question mark.
She was… the reflex.