I have said it before and I'll say it again: When I complete my 50th trip 'round the sun in ten and a half months or so, the first one to buy me a red hat gets a punch in the throat.
I mean it.
Ok, I probably don't mean it. The pacifist in me never could throw a decent punch and the nice girl in me could never scoff at a gift - no matter how snarky. (Yes, there's a little bit of nice girl in me. I keep her under wraps most of the time, but she's there...) But I'd punch that person in the throat in my mind.
Fifty is rough. My mom is one of the most youthful thinkers I know. I can't keep up with her sometimes. Well into her seventies, she still often says things like, "But I'm not middle-aged yet!" and shudders - as if to ward off the very thought. (I'm not sure exactly how old she plans to be - but I'm guessing it's at least a little older than 150...) Anyone who knows her will back me up on this. My mom thinks young. Yet she was not immune to the curse of fifty. That youthful, optimistic attitude left her for the few months preceding and following her fiftieth birthday. She breezed through thirty and forty and sixty and seventy - but fifty brought her to her knees (albeit briefly).
You know who else thinks young and is over fifty?
Members of The Red Hat Society.
If you're not familiar, then - oh, who am I kidding? You're familiar.
I'm a little afraid of them.
(Ok, I had my own little not-so-secret society in college that wore a lot of red and purple (holla, sisters and sweethearts of Alpha Nu!), but that's another story for another day. Today's story is about Red Hats.)
I had a bit of a rough day today and decided that cooking was an additional drudgery I just couldn't bear to face. "Take me out for a nice dinner!" I said.
"Put on your Sunday best, we're going to O'Charley's!" was the reply.
Anxious to relax and unwind a bit, we were led to our table. "We have several margarita specials tonight." our server said, as she showed us into a room off the bar.
"So I see....."
It took me a few minutes to take it all in, but only a split second to realize what had happened. We had been seated on the perimeter of a Red Hat Society Halloween Party. A group of a dozen or so women of a certain age were gathered in the center of the room. There were elaborate red and purple centerpieces on several tables and a huge collection of gifts on the floor, gaudily presented in red and purple and sequins and feathers. Huge. Like - not quite wedding reception huge, but darn close - and with way more red and purple. A broomba in a red witches hat with a long veil bumped our table and cackled. What's a broomba, you ask? I don't know if that's what it's really called or not, but it was like a roomba with a broom on top. And a red witches hat. I mentioned that, right?
Did I tell you that the women were in costume? Because they totally were. There was a cigarette girl, complete with red sparkly hat. There was a Native American with long gray braids and a strand of red and purple beads. There was a prairie woman with a red calico bonnet. There was a flapper. Groucho Marx and Tweety were in attendance. There was a gypsy fortune teller with a beautiful red silky head scarf. There were two women in fright wigs and otherwise typically Red Hat attire - red hats, big boas - they were each wearing name tags. From what I could glean, they were dressed as each other. These costumes, by the way, were not just thrown together. They were well thought out and really elaborate. There were a lot of margaritas.
It was quite a spectacle. And these ladies were having a ball. They grouped and re-grouped for photographs. (And no, I didn't take any. It didn't seem sporting.) They laughed and talked and ordered more margaritas. The servers had a hard time herding them to their tables to take their orders. As soon as that task was accomplished, they were up and laughing again.
Lea said, on the way home, "I can't wait till I'm old enough to join that club!"
Spectacle is kind of her thing.
I said, "Not me. The first person to buy me a red hat gets a punch in the throat."
"I am so buying you a red hat."
I gave her the stink eye and raised my fist in a manner that I hoped was light-hearted, but still menacing.
"I'll risk it"
"Right in the throat, kiddo!"
I do look pretty good in purple, though. And I do like margaritas.