There is a collection of kindred middle-aged souls who have spent their lives setting an example of how a proper woman should conduct herself. Having outlived the responsibilities of wife, homemaker, career woman and cradle rocker of the world, they are now in need of leaning a little left of propriety. They call themselves The Red Hat Society and they celebrate fun, friendship and the coming of age for fifty-year-old and older woman. They base their name on Jenny Joseph痴 poem Warning that states, "When I am an old woman I shall wear purple clothes with a red hat which doesn稚 go, and doesn稚 suit me." The Society, donning red hats and boas, travels in a boisterous entourage engaging in rebellious behavior such as telling jokes, playing kazoos, laughing and having a well-deserved blast.
With each new dawn, I grow closer to fifty than to forty. I have been pondering my choice of conduct for my latter years. My problem is this: I have been wearing purple clothes with red hats for decades. I have engaged in dissident behavior on a regular basis since middle school and often let go, laughed, misbehaved and whooped-it-up. I continually failed to set a good example for my children, and therefore relied heavily upon, "do as I say, not as I do" as my childrearing philosophy. I enjoy a lighthearted attitude, am carefree, sweet, kind, giving and happy. So, where shall I go from here? I think I must put on a different hat.
I will never again cut my hair. It will grow to my butt and I hope will soon start graying. I'll wear it in a bun with messy wisps sticking out all over. Bobbie pins and pencils will stick out here and there, too.
I'm going to eat anything and everything I want so I'll get plump and my elbows will have dimples that my grandchildren will laugh at when they poke their fingers into them. I値l attempt to slap their hands, mumbling something about disrespectful, good-for-nothing, unruly snots, but will never manage to hit my mark. The babies will be afraid of me.
I知 going to wear my trifocals on a pink plastic beaded chain around my neck and crumbs from my lunch will land on the lens and stay there. I値l never notice. I'm going to be crabby and my kids will call me only on Christmas and Mother's Day, purely out of duty, to stay in my will. I値l ask them half-heartily, "What are your brats up to?" and, "What did you name that funny looking one again? Did you have his ears fixed yet? One good wind and you値l have to drive to Matawamkeag to bring him back home!"
I値l lock my doors and keep my house dark on holidays.
I知 going to snarl and yell at the neighborhood kids as I threaten them with a flyswatter and will rightfully earn the name "Crazy Old Bat". Everyone, even strong, young men, will cross to the opposite side of the street when walking past my house.
I'm going to drive a once black, now faded to gray, beat up, rusting Subaru station wagon with the back license plate askew because it痴 held on with chicken wire. I'll have two bumper stickers: "Winter Sucks" and "Screw Guilt". It won稚 even cross my mind that these are vulgar.
I知 going to cause road rage. I値l forget I have directional blinkers and peripheral vision. My top speed will be 35 miles per hour both in town and on Interstate 95.
From now on I'm going to wear ratty, baby blue slippers and patterned knee socks, all day, everyday, even to Wal-mart. I'll be forced to shuffle to keep my slippers on. My outfit of choice will be a snagged, faded flowered housecoat with large coffee stains down the front.
I知 going to let my three chin hairs grow and I値l absentmindedly twist them when I stand in line at the check-out. I値l use the ten items or less lane when I have thirty items or more simply because I can稚 be bothered not to.
I知 going to talk to myself in public, and answer me. Then, when folks stare I値l bark, "What the Hell are you looking at?"
The only issue I値l care about is me.
I値l start smoking thin cigars, letting them hang off my lower lip. I値l not be particular about hitting the ashtray, either. I'll spend my days writing articles for magazines such as Old and Annoyed, Bygone and Bitter or The Sour Senior, earning only enough to buy food for myself, my seventeen cats and seed for my three-dozen bird feeders. I plan on buying a pellet gun to shoot the thieving squirrels, but I'll feed raccoons better than myself.
I知 never cooking a homemade meal again. I値l survive on Shurfine macaroni and cheese or pizza from a box. Of course, I can always share the cat痴 Nine Lives.
Does anyone care to join me? We値l call ourselves the Society of Cynical Sisters and we値l wear whatever the dickens we please.
L.E. Hughes is a columnist, author and owner of Diamond Corner B&B in Stratton, Maine. She welcomes your thoughts and comments: firstname.lastname@example.org.
ｩ July 2006, Lew-Ellyn Hughes. All Rights Reserved and Retained by the Author.