Friday, March 28, 2008

Who are all the old ladies in the red hats?

The Bean got a last-minute call to play at a friend's house this morning before school, so Peanut and I were out and about earlier than usual. We decided to check out a new cafe that's opened in town. It used to be a bagel shop, which was cool, except that Mr. S. kept getting rocks or something on sesame bagels from there. After more than one time crunching down on something much too hard to be a sesame seed, he decided he couldn't trust bagels from there any more, so I stopped going. I figure it's like the occasional pebble in a bag of beans or lentils, and he just had rotten luck. But it doesn't seem to happen with bagels from BJs, so we get them there now.

ANYhoo, the bagel shop closed, and a chicken restaurant opened in that location. We were underwhelmed, and didn't go. Evidently we weren't the only ones, because eventually it closed too. Driving by today, I saw a sign for the new cafe there, and we gave it a try.

I'm happy enough; we could use a new breakfast place, the menu and prices were fine and the people seem nice. Peanut was bummed that they didn't have crayons. She has a point, as it's easy enough to keep plastic cups of crayons to keep kids busy drawing on their paper place mats before their meals come. Maybe they'll come around to that. Then again, maybe other kids draw on the tables instead, which might discourage me from giving them crayons, if I were in the restaurant business. Anyway, I usually have crayons in the car for this kind of thing, so now we know this is one place to bring them in. In the meantime Peanut carefully constructed and dismantled a tower of coffee creamers, then sorted all the rectangles of jelly into piles according to color and restacked them in their little caddy. Then, from our window booth overlooking the lovely parking lot, we counted cars of different colors.

We became very interested in the diners across the room: a dozen or so old ladies, all in kooky red hats. The hats were everything from patent leather baseball caps to giant felt affairs with satin ribbon and purple feathers. The ladies seemed to be enjoying themselves very much. When some of them stopped near our table to put on their coats and gloves on their way out, I sort of asked them what's the deal. "We are very curious about your beautiful red hats!" I said. Turns out, they are a chapter of the Red Hat Society -- haven't I heard of it? They're older ladies who put on crazy red hats and get together doing whatever any of them wants to do. "See what you have to look forward to!" they told me (" soon as you can ditch junior" they left unspoken).

My favorite bit from their website:
"The spirit of the Red Hat Society forbids rules, per se. There are, however, some common-sense guidelines that we must insist upon:
  • You must be a woman of 50 or over (or you may be a Pink Hatter under 50), and you must attend functions in full regalia, (red hat, purple outfit for women 50 and over, or pink hat and lavender outfit for women under 50)."
Well yes. Common-sense guidelines. Of course.

I'll be eligible in less than 10 years, folks. Given how hard it is to find a hat that both fits and flatters, I don't think it's too soon to start shopping for a red one.


  1. I love the Red Hat ladies. They grew out of this poem by Jenny Joseph:

    When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
    with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.
    And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
    and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.
    I shall sit down on the pavement when I am 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 pickles for a week
    and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts 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.

  2. Cool! I'd seen the poem before but didn't make the connection, because I forgot about the "with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me."

    I hope I find one that suits me.

  3. that seems very cool

  4. My mother finds the red hat ladies very annoying. I gotta say, I don't really get it, but then, I'm not much of a joiner. Maybe that will change by the time I'm over 50 (which isn't all that far away, sadly).

  5. I'm not much of a joiner either. I thought it was cool seeing 'em all flocking like that though. Made me hope I too have some cheerful companionship in my later years, hatted or otherwise.

  6. A year and a half and I'm there. That is, if they'll take me. They can be very exclusive. Purple and red look good on me, anyway :-).

    Sorry to hear about the bad bagel experience. That was a pretty good place, pebbles and such notwithstanding.

  7. You had best make up your mind to go out and become something of a joiner after your kids are grown , cause if you don't you will surely get on the spouses nerves, even in the best of marriages you need time to develope some part of self. My kids are older, grown in fact, so I started my own little hiking group, and we have some fun. My wife is catching up with old friends and it makes things more pleasant.

  8. That's a good point anon -- joiner or no, I definitely have my own interests to pursue.

    A hiking group sounds like fun :).

  9. I'm not sure who I clicked on to get to your blog, but I really like it. The first time I ever saw a "red hat lady" was in Billing Montana. My family and I had gone out to dinner at a really nice place, and in came a whole party of them, all in full regalia. I had no idea who or what they were, and I wasn't sure it wasn't a Montana thing, but I looked them up on the internet like you did. Who knew there was a whole segment of older ladies wearing red and purple for a reason??

    Great Blog!

  10. The purpose of the hats are to be bold and a little ridiculous. The purple apparel can also be quite diverse but the whole ensemble is a statement of staying young as you grow older.

  11. These ladies looked terrific, RHAM. It made me feel good just to see them.