I have decided to become a Red Hat.
I more than qualify, the extremely cool thing is that people don't think I do. This is, most likely, why I tend to feel smug about my age and broadcast it to all and sundry. Frankly, I think it's the rather zoftig nature of my build. Excess weight, as I have said before, is Mother Nature's Botox. Eat pasta, get fat. This pushes the burgeoning wrinkles out from the back. Something along the idea of a water balloon. Balloons are small, wrinkly things when they're new in the bag. Fill them up with either water or hot air, and they become large and smooth, and something people like to play with. This is how I see myself.
Anyway, I have come to the conclusion that I like to hang out with other 50 year olds and this brings me to the Red Hat. I've been on their mailing list for ages, but have rather Scottishly hung on to the 15 bucks a year which would actually give me the wherewithal to meet REAL people.
Real people who remember where they were when Kennedy was assassinated. Here's the thing - if you say "which one?" well, yeah, you're unclear on the concept. If you say "who?" the entire story will be wasted on you. If you ask "what's that mean?" well, you won't find out from me because I will have been struck speechless and will probably just wander off somewhere.
I find myself, once again, in an internet jungle populated by girls with toddlers and attitudes. The toddlers do not yet have attitudes, at least attitudes inappropriate to toddlers (they don't call them the "Terrible (insert age of your pre-teen children here)s" for nothing). The attitudes belong to the mothers, who seem to feel that it's all about them. Maybe it is, and maybe I was like that when I was chasing naked little boys up the street. Yes, I had one who loved to rip off his diaper and take off on high, but I digress.
Anyway, I have taken refuge on line with several people of my basic boomerdom. I can go there and be Eeyore, which is the middle-age equivalent of "Nobody likes me, everybody hates me, I'm gonna eat some worms" and actually get support. Because we're all in the same boat. We're working crappy jobs we don't like and our parents were eying retirement by this age and we're all going to die at our desks and we know it. We're all staring down the harsh reality that we can no longer change horses in mid stream because no one wants people our age riding their horses. We charge too much and they'll have to pay to put us out to pasture.
The fact that I can (and DO) turn Meat Loaf up to 11 (because 11 is better) and dance manically to "Hot Patootie" means nothing to anyone except me and that's because I know that my neck and ass are gonna hurt the next morning from all that motion. It doesn't stop me, I'm just more aware of it now. Dance to THAT, Richard Simmons!
At any rate, I am finding that my conversations with people in venues that are so diversely mixed in age are increasingly going something like this:
A: "I need to paint my father's trash can. I was thinking of black but I wanted some other suggestions. What do you guys think of a black trash can?"
B: "McDonald's has a red box for their chicken McNuggets, why don't you do that?"
Me: "Have you thought of painting it green? It's very popular in my town, although your town may have color restrictions. It might not work where you live."
B: "I like green but it's not appropriate, I know what trash cans are supposed to look like and they should be red. Besides, when I think of A's town I don't think of green trash cans, I think of red ones. Her town may not even ALLOW green trash cans."
ME: "Gee, sorry, I shouldn't have suggested anything, I have no idea what color is anyway. I'm WAY too old to know this know of stuff and I've spent so many years following paint colors I'm not as smart as you."
B: "Oh, I didn't mean to offend you..."
ME: "Oh, fuck off, it's not your trash can anyway, you arrogant twit." Okay, that was what my brain said. My fingers simply came off the keyboard and are staying off.
It's NOT the preference for red. It's the rudeness. It's the "Let me tell you how you're wrong" comment. It's the "maybe her town doesn't allow green" comment because B didn't bother to actually READ my answer, which address the issue.
This seems to be what young women are doing now. Maybe they're too busy to be bothered listening to, or reading all of what someone over 50 says. Maybe they discard anything that ancient as irrelevant in their worlds. Maybe I'm just a tired old lady and getting overly sensitive. Maybe a woodchuck, who knows?
I don't think there's anything deliberate or pre-meditated about it. I don't think they intend to be rude. But, I think it was Mark Twain, said something like "little boys pull the wings off butterflies in jest, but the butterflies die in earnest." It also could have been the legs off of frogs, or maybe the wings off of moths and it could have been Will Rogers. I'm old and I don't remember things. But the point is valid. Just because they don't think they're rude doesn't mean they're not.
I was brought up to not really speak like that (I was also brought up with better grammar than that last sentence). I don't just blurt out "I don't like it", especially when I'm sort of butting into someone elses conversation, but then, that's an internet thing, everyone does it and, while I don't like it, I do understand it. But I would say something like "Green can be pretty too" instead of "WTF does a McDonald's carton have to do with someone painting her FATHER'S trash can? Paint your own damn trash can red" which was pretty much what I wanted to say.
I have decided I'm in the old and crotchety bracket I guess. And I want to hang out with other old and crotchety people. I want to hang out with people who think before they speak, or type. Who say things like "that would be pretty" even when they don't mean it because, well, it takes all kinds to make a world and why make someone feel bad when there's no reason to? Why insult someone and tell them they have no idea what paint colors really are? I'm sure she didn't mean to hurt my feelings but she did. And she didn't HAVE to.
And so, I am shopping for a Red Hat.
I taught my kids to be nice. I taught them that there's no reason to say "I know that's not an appropriate paint color because I say THIS is the appropriate color". I just burst with egotistical pride every time someone says to me "you have the nicest kids and they have such good manners" because that's pretty much want I wanted to do for them. Maybe they're going to regret it, having good manners in a world full of pushy people. I hope not.
Celeste Holm tells the story of working with Bette Davis on "All About Eve." When Ms. Holm walked on the set the first day, quite enthusiastic about working with Bette Davis again (as they had worked together before and she enjoyed the experience) Ms. Davis looked up, saw her and announced "Oh shit. Here comes Miss Good Manners."
I picture that on my headstone.
And it makes me happy.