By RHONDA SCHROCK
I should count them all up. I really should. Bartholomew Cubbins did once, and his number was 500. “You think that’s a lot,” I wanted to say the other day when I thought of him again. “Try being me.”
If I sat down and listed all the hats I wear, I’d get carpal tunnel, and that’s a fact. Then I’d need surgery. I’d be laid up, out of commission, off my feed and in a brace, and I just don’t have time for all that. You can see why it’s best not to count.
Of all the hats I’ve got, there are some I love and some I don’t. And I learned real quick that they couldn’t all be party hats with streamers and glitter. Those don’t work for scrubbing toilets or laundering unmentionables. That kind of stuff takes a helmet; maybe even a hood with an oxygen hose. When you’re raising four boys and one husband, it does. Which I am and I do, so I know what I’m talking about.
You learn, too, how to change ‘em out fast. It’s simply survival, knowing which to wear when. Being able to go from the maid cap to that nurse one and on to detective, all at the drop of a — you know, is important. If you’re slow, they’ll munch your lunch (ask me how I know) and hand you the brown paper bag.
All of this takes energy. That and caffeine, which is one hat I wear with great relish.
We have an in-house barista. That would be me. With my grinder, I can brew a cup of coffee to perfection, filling the house with the invigorating aroma of Jamaican Me Crazy. This skill, I now understand, makes me an aromatherapy practitioner. The reason I know this is because a professional one (i.e., a Starbucks employee) told me so.
There I was, waiting in line for a mocha. There it came, the scent of the coffee. And there I went, leaning in over the counter, sniffing shamelessly, nostrils flared.
“It’s aromatherapy,” chirped the cheerful barista, knowing.
If I were counting, I’d add it to my list. The fact that my little operation, unlike hers, is nonprofit is irrelevant. And just because she wears a real visor in company green doesn’t mean a thing. I’m wearing one in my heart, and that’s what, well, counts.
While the locals here don’t much care about these hats, they have a deep and abiding appreciation for the chef one. No matter where I bury it, they find it with their specialized, super-sensitive sonar. Then they slap on their own caps, the ones that come with the Concentration Camp Starvation Victim suits, and set to work. That’s how that deal goes.
One hat I refuse to wear is that of Rodent Eliminator. That belongs to Mr. Schrock, and he’d better get busy if he wants to keep Hat Girl happy.
I’d been hearing the skittering of those odious little feet overhead in the night. I’d mentioned it to him, upon which he mumbled something into his pillow and rolled over. And then.
Early one morning in a quiet, darkened house, I set the toaster on the counter, popped in an English muffin and slipped into the back room to find a pair of jeans. I stepped back into the kitchen. And froze.
There he was, sitting on the corner of the toaster in his hideous fur suit, inches away from my muffin. Clutching my pants to my chest, I shot up flares and called for help, pulling The Sleepy Mumbler out of bed.
“You’ve got to get him,” I pled. “Kill him. Squash him. Shoot him, I don’t care. Just make sure he’s dead.”
There are a lot of unpleasant things this girl will do. Sending Christopher Churchmouse to the Big Cheese Wheel in the Sky isn’t one of them. That’s a job — and a hat — for Mr. Schrock. Once I receive confirmation that he’s room temperature, we shall sing a shared song of rejoicing. In our party hats with glitter.
Come to think of it, there are plenty of other hats I won’t wear. I know my limits. Which is why I’ll never be a mechanic or a body guy.
Don’t ask me to straighten your chassis or check your engine. I won’t clean your spark plugs or change your oil, either. That dog won’t hunt, and that truck won’t run. Trust me. You just stick with your mechanic, and I’ll stick with what I know. We’ll both be happier, and you’ll get to work on time.
I can’t be a dentist, either. I’ve got a healthy respect (read ‘fear’) of a mouthful of molars. I’ve seen what they can do to my pizza pie.
Remember those starving victims? No way am I gonna reach inside their jaws to do some work. No way. Not unless I gas ’em first. Actually, I’m lucky if they don’t gas me first. Which is why I’m attaching a mask to my party hat with streamers.
Rhonda Schrock is hopeful that the mouse’s days are numbered. Otherwise, she may have to hold down the fort at the coffee shop until he’s gone. She thinks there’s a hat for that.