As I drive up north to teach on Tuesdays and Thursdays, I pass a cider mill (now, more technically a Cider Mill tourist emporium) that has an enormous 5-foot wide red hat affixed to a fencepost.
Ten miles further up the road is another crifty-crafty touristy shopping mecca with an enormous sign out front, reading: RED HATS ARE HERE! (A CAPS-LOCK event, to be sure)
The hats. The hats.
If you are unfamiliar with the red hat craze, then most likely you are unfamiliar with the poem by Jenny Joseph, which, essentially, is an ode to being a non-conformist pain in the ass. The poem begins:
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 peoples' gardens
And learn to spit.
Now, I'm all for mismatched clothes. After all, two socks that match puts me over my stylistic threshold for the day. As for hats, well, I'm just not a hat person. Some people look good in hats, others do not. I firmly fall into the NOT category. Plus, it gives me hat hair, which I hate, in a very alliterative kind of way. Brandy is OK (I guess), but I'll be passing on the gloves unless I'm shovelling snow, in which case I shall be wearing mittens because they keep my hands warmer. But, don't count on those matching either, because I'm as mittenly challenged as I am sockishly challenged. As for the rest, well, who DOESN'T gobble up samples? Back in the olden days when Swiss Colony was in the mall, it was a required stop to go through the store and get a snack from every sample tray there was. Pressing alarm bells is frowned upon, and whereas running a stick along public railings is plain old annoying, you've got nothing on the skateboarders who destroy large chunks of concrete in a single wipeup.
Oh. And picking flowers from somebody else's garden? That's just bad form.
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.
Terrible shirts. Now there's a threat for you. Check out any amusement park, and all see a sea of terrible shirts covering the fat of those eating three pounds of sausage at a go. Bread is now a dietary no-no, and after living through years of TinyTuna's pickle love, I am unimpressed. As for hoarding pens and pencils...well, sorry to tell you, this is regular corporate practice. Let those who don't have an entire cache of work-related writing implements at home cast the first Sharpie.
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.
I'm thinking this isn't necessarily a bad thing. You?
But maybe I ought to practise a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.
Maybe. But if the point of wearing purple and a mismatched red hat is to be all cutting edge and DIFFERENT, will somebody please explain why it is absolutely THE IN thing to do among the gray-haired crowd? They have red hat clubs. They have red hat societies. They have red hat gatherings where they do group activities while wearing MATCHING RED HATS.
Methinks someone needs a refresher course in the art of non-conformity.
Meanwhile, I am comforted by two phrases. The first is repeated often in the children's book, "Go Dogs, Go!"
"Do you like my hat?"
"No. I do not like that hat!"
The second was uttered by my grandmother during the 90th occasion that shall not be mentioned:
"I just hate those hats. Nobody better ever give me one."
Non-conformity. A Tuna trait to be sure. Yay, Grandma.