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Don’t color me old (01/31/2010)
By Janet Lewis Burns
“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.”

That is taken from a mischievous poem penned by Jenny Joseph, from Gloucestershire, England. I was disappointed to read that she is a professional, published writer. Why couldn’t she be the feisty gal of her own creation, the spunky, independent dame in the poem entitled “Warning?” But I don’t know the lady – so perhaps she is.

There was a series of books, back in the 1990s, from Papier-Mache Press, that likely stirred the hearts of all who read them. Contributors shared their poems, brief stories and candid, touching photographs of the not-so-young. I recently plucked the three I have out of storage, where their beckoning faces peeked over the side of the wood, dovetailed, Trogan Explosives box, one of the countless resting places where my oodles of books can be discovered throughout our house.

I once had a purple tee shirt adorned with Jenny Joseph’s now infamous remark, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.” My granddaughter Alyssa, then 13, spotted it in an outgrown pile I was getting ready for the Salvation Army. She was delighted to take it! Alyssa is a free spirit. She has no inhibitions about wearing anything that suits her fancy, whether it’s “in” or not. You go girl!

Colors typify and personify. Old Glorys’ red, white, and blue pride pulses through the hearts of our countrymen and women as the Star Spangled Banner is sung. Color the earth green! Slowly, but surely, Americans have been “going green,” in an effort to preserve our natural resources. “In the red” is a sad reality for businesses all across the country, who have been forced to lay off employees and possibly file bankruptcy.

If the blue moon on New Year’s Eve had you howling or acting slightly off plumb, it’s not unusual. So say many of the hospital, emergency room attendants, who have reported people acting bizarre and behaving otherworldly under a smirking-faced full moon. I don’t quite agree. Blame it on the booze and that wacky stuff! Detox!

“Ebony and ivory, living in perfect harmony.” It seems as clear as black and white that the words to that old song did not bridge any significant gap. Moving on – wardrobe colors can say a lot about individuals, be it fun, pastel hues of spring, the season of renewal, or luxurious purple, exuding sophistication, or maybe you’re one of those “forever in blue jeans” babes.

Are the threads you wear really “you?” Yikes! Does this mean that my tie-dyed, shoulder-padded, polyester, leopard-skinned, Elvis-fringed, and knee-high nylons have exceeded the limits of wabi sabi! It’s not your great-grannies world anymore! Today’s grandmothers aren’t likely sitting home in their fuzzy slippers, knitting, playing peek-a-boo with the grandkiddies, and simmering a pot of stew on the back burner.

Grandmothers are working-out at local gyms, golfing, riding Harleys and speed bikes, meditating at the spa, leading Yoga sessions, belly dancing, and joining forces in groups like the “red hat society.” These colorful gals show the world that they aren’t tarnishing in their golden years by languishing over late life’s minor inconveniences.

They don’t acknowledge fashion foibles. Anything goes! Their high-rise apartments are their Eiffel Tower. Trips to a casino are funded by the kids’ inheritance, and tea times may be laced with just a tad of the brown stuff. Some even have a pool boy (and they don’t even have pools.)

When I am an old woman I shall laugh out loud during a bridge game...and nobody will know that I knew exactly what I was doing.

I’m already there!

Janet Burns can not be trusted to act her age. She may answer to patandjanburns@embarqmail.com.



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