Ginger owns a hat shop on the corner of Sixth and Moss. She sells many styles--bowlers, top hats, safari hats, derbies, jockeys’ caps, fedoras and berets. She does not sell baseball hats--they are bourgeois and hers is a shop of expensive hats. Wealthy people look to Ginger’s shop to meet the needs of their lifestyles--especially women. Women whose daughters are marrying doctors and dentists buy flowery pillbox hats. Women attending high-profile tennis matches buy wide-brimmed khaki hats to fashionably protect themselves from skin cancer. Women spending weekends watching their husbands golf buy chic visors in pastel plaids and understated paisley prints. Women who are the mistresses of those golfers buy straw hats in fuchsia or teal to sip iced tea and vodka alone on their patios. Of course, now that it is autumn, riding hats and fur-lined caps are more popular.
Then, there are the funeral hats.
The funeral hats are exquisite. Ginger believes that mourning should be done in style and with accessories. These hats are black, as funeral hats should be, with various trimmings: sequins, feathers, and flowers, veils of black netting or lace. Classy.
A woman looks over the funeral hats now, bending slightly at her trim waist. She is beautiful--blonde hair graying gracefully at the temples, thin wrists, elegant calves in tasteful black stockings. She is in her forties, or if she’s had work done, her fifties. She admiringly picks up one funeral hat, then another, turning them this way and that before setting them back down on the mahogany display table. Ginger walks over to her.
“May I help you select anything for your devastating occasion?” Ginger asks politely.
The woman turns to face the shop owner. Ginger recognizes her. She came in a few months ago, was it February? She’d been looking at the funeral hats then, too. In fact, she’d bought one. It was a lovely wool hat--if Ginger remembers correctly, it had been 1940s retro, with a braided band and black Swarovski crystals clustered on the side. The poor woman, thinks Ginger. She’s lost another loved one.
“Yes, thank you,” says the woman. “I’m looking for something, well, appropriate, with a short veil. I’ve just been widowed, and it’s so, you know, jejune to show all of one’s face at a funeral. Wouldn’t you agree?”
“Of course,” answers Ginger. “And I’m terribly sorry for your loss. I’m sure you’re just distraught.”
“One always is with these kinds of things,” replies the striking blonde as she picks up a particularly flashy hat, black silk with dyed ostrich feathers and a hand-made lace veil. She tries it on and looks at herself in a mirror. “I think I’ll take this one.”
Ginger smiles sympathetically and wraps the woman’s new funeral hat in tissue paper, placing it in a round hat box with wide ribbon handles. “I can tell from your purchases that you have impeccable taste, Ma’am.”
“Thank you,” the woman answers. “The pieces here are beautiful, aren’t they? It’s just the place for finding these…” she trails off, indicating her new hat.
“I do hope you’ll come again,” says Ginger as she hands back the woman’s credit card. “Perhaps to shop for a happier occasion.”
“My dear,” says the woman, “the occasion is what one makes of it.” She tucks her card back into her pocketbook. “Remember that around every dark cloud there is a platinum lining.” She smiles at Ginger and walks out of the shop, jingling the small golden bells above the door.
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