Before I started school, there were 4 of us girls within the neighborhood who would get together to play so that 3 of the 4 Mom's could have some time without kids. It was a traveling play date held once a week. There was myself, Renee', Vivian and Andrea. Our Mom's were a group of friends who were navigating the 50's as best as they could. And that's a whole other story.
The sweet yellow straw at with pristine white daisies with yellow centers all around the brim seemed to defy gravity on the head of my playmate Andrea. This privileged and spoiled young child always had the newest fashions from Fedway Department Store and she always wore the highest pony tail that was still considered a pony tail and not a bun. Andrea with her beautiful long legs and slim waist always looked like the Betsy McCall doll that she taunted the rest of us girls from the neighborhood with, when we were dropped off at her house for a day of dress up, playing dolls and watching Andrea show off her latest and best.
When I pointed out that Barbie had the pony tail and that her precious Betsy McCall had a bob, she slowly removed her straw hat, undid her pony tail and jumped at me with hate in her eyes. I squealed and turned to run but forgot I was up against the dark pink, light pink striped wall of her bedroom and totally knocked myself out as I collided with said pink blockade.
When I woke up Mrs. Hernandez was applying a cold wash cloth to my forehead and scolding Andrea. Mrs. H told me that Nomie, their maid had already called my Mom and that she would be there soon to pick me up and she added that she was so sorry that Andrea had been naughty.
Not as sorry as I was, I thought to myself. I looked in the direction of the glare she had just delivered and Andrea had tears in her eyes but when her Mom looked back at me, Andrea stuck her tongue out at me and then smiled. This girl had brat down to a T.
I decided right then that my Mom's pick of friends for me was not all it was cracked up to be. She might want to be part of Mrs. H's friends but Andrea and I were through. This wasn't the first time my mouth had gotten me in trouble with Andrea and I was sure that it would not be the last. And Andrea had a thing for making me pay with physical attacks. It wasn't that I couldn't fight, I just hated it. My brother had given me a few lessons in punching so that I didn't have to be afraid, but I still didn't like the feeling of hurting someone else. I was beginning to think I might have to change my way of thinking.
By the time my Mom came to pick me up, Mrs. H had packed me a "care package" of the treats and sweets that we were going to have and a wondrous hat box with small pink roses printed paper on it. The handle was a silky rope of a light spring green that matched the foliage of the delicate rosebuds. It was going to be mine, not the mean eyed Andrea's. I can't tell you the feeling of victory I felt in my 5 year old gut. But as we left, I waved at the Hernandez's and felt like I was the winner of some special prize.
When we got home, my Mom said I had to stay awake, be close to where she was so she could keep an eye on me and that I could bring something into the kitchen table to play with while she finished the laundry. I took the hat box and my Muffie doll with some clothes. Took my place at the table. I opened up the hatbox and inside was Andrea's new hat. Or rather my new hat. I was shocked. I guess Mrs. H was trying to make up for her daughter's bad behavior with a bribe, which I gladly accepted. I pulled the lovely daisied hat up to my nose and smelled the newness of it. It was a combination of straw, fabric and nanny, nanny, boo boo that I smelled back then when the smell was new.
That hat is a million years old now, but every time I lay eyes on it's beauty, I pull it to my nose and I expect to smell victory. It has lost it's new scent but that is how I came to be addicted to hat boxes. Who knows what you might find inside a round "wonder box" that could change your outlook on spoiled rotten children or just life, for that matter.
The names in this story were not changed to protect anyone. I don't expect that Ms. Andrea ever gave me or that hat incident a second thought. Her reign of terror came to a close soon after when we started school at St. Vincent's Girls Academy....but that's another story as well.