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Seeing Red…and Purple


I have a few theories.
First, in the absence of rules, people will make them up, needed or not, and eventually write them down on some official document.
Second, a group of three or more people will eventually choose a leader and give them a stupid title.
And third, the aforementioned group, given time, will collect more of a similar nature, rather like a snowball, so that eventually the end product has very little to do with what was originally conceived.
I say this as I approach the last year of my forties, meaning that next year I am apparently eligible to join the Red Hat Society.
For those who aren’t familiar with the group, it sprang up inspired by a 1961 poem by English poet Jenny Joseph. Known by many titles, it basically speaks about living your mature years beyond those unspoken rules and regulations that govern society.
Apparently older women are really angry about clothing and having to eat sensibly, because these seem to be the primary rule-breaking that is the focus of the poem. It speaks of wearing “a terrible shirt and growing fat,” which I guess wasn’t a strong enough lifestyle suggestion around which to form a club, the first problem being the name “Terrible Shirt Over Fat Society.”
Instead Red Hat Society founder and “Exalted Queen Mother” (See?) Sue Ellen Cooper decided to rally around the line about a red hat with a purple outfit, which is apparently some kind of massive faux pas when you are over 50, worse than, say, belching “The Star Spangled Banner.”

And so the ruleless Red Hat Society requires you to wear a red hat and purple outfit. Oh – and have fun. They keep saying that.
Really. It’s in the rules.
Along with the membership fee.
Oh, and the rules regarding the use of the Red Hat Society Logo.
But, really, it exists so that older women can have fun, but you must wear a red hat and purple outfit and have fun. Oh, and select two people in your group to call Queen and Vice-Queen. And at the chapter level there are “just a few” more rules: no males, no kids, you must behave “like a lady,” attend meetings at least once during a three-month period, and own a kazoo.
But “Have you forgotten that we are a DIS-ORGANISATION? We do not have (a secretary, treasurer or committees), and do not ever intend to! Eeeeek! Committees, secretaries and treasurers imply having official meetings and minutes and books and such! Being serious? NO WAY!!! Remember… we are just a bunch of friends getting together for a few laughs and some good times!”
And if you don’t have a red hat and purple outfit? The Red Hat Society has an online store that will sell it to you. Along with bookmarks, stationary, mugs, books, CDs, jewelry, shoes and housewares.
Only nowhere on their website will you find the poem that inspired the group, because of all those copyright rules and regulations, don’t you know. But you can purchase it on a bookmark at the Red Hat Society Store.
But remember – The Red Hat Society does not like those rules, but it’s website allows that some must exist in the interest of organization. Like the rule that says members or local chapter may not “use the Red Hat Society name to sell or promote any commercial product or service.” That’s the job of the Red Hat Society.
That and having fun, remember. Don’t forget having fun.
Those wacky Red Hatters, always the ones to shock.
In one of those serendipitous occurrences that happen when people are issued a mandate to not be conventional, Dirtman just happened to stop into our local coffee shop located in an antique emporium and ran smack dab into a local chapter of the Red Hat Society. Having conquered the antique store, they were on their way to a Victorian inn for tea.
Antiques, a Victorian Inn, a tea and 50-plus-year-old women. Way to step out of your comfort zone!
And so now Dirtman wants to know if I’m going to join the Red Hat Society in another year or would I like to join now as a Pink Hatter, the requirement being that I wear a pink hat and lavender outfit, all for sale on the Red Hat Society website.
I offer another option: How about we stop treating middle-aged women as invisible so they don’t have to resort to Nazi-couture methods in order to be validated?
And kindly do it before next year.

Share  Posted by Jeanne Jackson at 9:55 AM | Permalink

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