by Jenny Joseph
WHEN I AM AN OLD WOMAN I SHALL WEAR PURPLE
With a red hat which doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we've no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I'm tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens
And learn to spit
You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes
But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
I've always liked that poem. It was published when I was a young college biddy. My mom read it and passed it along to me. As I approach perimenopause I find I'm worrying a lot less about what people think, and am looking forward to continuing along that path as I get older. That's one thing that's nice about being an old biddy.
Of course, I already wear purple frequently. I'll skip the red hat - I'd probably wear a green or black hat instead, but that's just me. I will leave it up to your imagination which of those other things I already do.
Anyway, now there's a whole social organization called "The Red Hat Society". They get together for brunch, etc, and wear eclectic outfits with, of course, red hats. According to their website, they were inspired by the poem. One could join either the on-line community or a local chapter. I saw them one time when I was at brunch with Missy. They were wearing crazy dresses, pajamas, sequined tops, etc, and having a grand old time. Missy said that her mother in-law had wanted to join but got rejected. It seemed completely at odds with the message of the poem.
I already wear purple but when I'm 50 I will not be joining the Red Hat society. When I grow up I want to be an old woman. Y'all are welcome to come join me, no application necessary.