I remember the first time I came across a poem about being an old lady and wearing purple. Here is that poem; it’s called “Warning” and was penned by a 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 . . .
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.
Mind you, the first time I saw this poem was at the public libary just down the hill from my high school: no evil “Red Hat Society” had as yet been created to sort of defeat the purpose of the poem. But that poem made me think, and honestly I can say that my last birthday has given me some sort of freedom, not unlike the one that is talked about in the poem. The kind of freedom that, were I to wear a girdle, I would feel if I snapped it loose. Alas, not the kind of freedom to wear an outfit that is the sartorial equivalent of either vomit or a john’s uniform.
Honestly, I’d never really go all out and start wearing purple pantsuits topped with red hats now that I’ve turned 30. First of all, purple pantsuits are the kind of thing that would make me have night terrors; and coupled with red hats, that’s just not cool. Also, thirty is not old; but I will agree with all my well-wishers in declaring that being in your thirties is far cushier and more fun than being in your twenties –at least so far. For starters, I had an extravagant birthday dinner at the ABSOFRIGGINLUTELY AWESOME Belga Café, where the food is AMAZING and the staff is EVEN MORE AMAZING! And super NICE! Are my exclamation marks enough to get you to go there? Because you should!
But as far as the activites touted in the poem, I do tend to pig out on supermarket samples (thank you, Trader Joe’s for the delicious macaroons of yesterday!) and I have been tempted to press the fire alarm on more than one occasion. What gives me pause in that particular event is that, well…. you know? What if they find out I was the one who pressed the alarm because someone from CSI seriously had nothing to do that day and then I’m stuck paying for the ambulances and the firetrucks? Worse yet, what if because of me someone else dies that day because they didn’t get the care they needed — because on account of my being punch-drunk with one too many Trader Joe’s macaroons and what with the temporary insanity conferred upon one by wearing a big red hat someone ends up DEAD?!
Anyway. Back to the poem:
Spending your pension on brandy is fine, but I’m not so sure about the gloves. I think that I would go ahead and spend it on shoes –and not just satin sandals– as I usually do. Shoes are a girl’s best friend and don’t you ever doubt it: even if you’re morbidly obese, your feet do not ever gain a significant amout of weight to move you up shoe sizes –though you may have to negotiate what Chris Rock called the “pump fat” and which looks like there are muffins baking out of your shoe.
Overall, everything sounds like a lot of fun. I especially like the idea of doing all those seemingly trivial and yet outlandish things just because you can. And I guess that is the thing: as you get older, you realize that you can do things, because YOU CAN. Not doing them seems like a waste of time and unneeded self-consciousness. Which is why your teens and your twenties are generally spent in a hazy blur where you could have enjoyed your better shape and your skin tone so much more, but somehow you didn’t allow yourself because you felt too fat or too inappropriate, or too cool to admit that despite thinking that N’Sync sucked, you still could sing a couple of songs of theirs or certainly tell them apart from the Backstreet Boys at the drop of a hat –who also have a couple of songs you also secretly sing to yourself when you need a pick-me-up– and you are very secretly rooting that Justin Timberlake has an awesome rest of career even if you find him kind of annoying. But still, kinda cute.
Yesterday we went back to my favorite store EVER and we had so much fun, just laughing and talking loudly and singing with the soundtrack and dancing through the aisles. Yes, a few odd looks were shot in our general direction, but so what? Dancing through the aisles to samba is, in my humble opinion, one of the most fun things you could EVER do in your life. I mean, it is so much fun that in Rio they close down the streets just so they can have bigger aisles down which to dance. And, you know, people pay a premium to be invited to THAT party.
But then, life keeps going on and we do get older. And the #1 bestseller in the nonfiction lists of the New York Times is by Nora Ephron (of “When Harry Met Sally” and “Sleepless in Seattle” fame): a collection of essays on how much it sucks to get old, and just how much maintenance it takes to stay “un-old,” so to speak.
In an interview in the Post today, she admits to only recently allowing herself to eat bread, and to being on a diet since she was in college. The woman is SIXTY-FIVE!!!!
So that means that she hasn’t had a decent meal in over forty years, which is ten years longer than I’ve been on earth. If she’d gone to celebrate her 30th at Café Belga, she would have likely eaten a side dish of Belgian endives and maybe a small salad. No delicious crusty bread to preface her awesome meal. That is such an anathema to everything that is good and delicious, that all I can do is end this entry. Right. Now.