Hello, Failure

Of all the enemies of literature, success is the most insidious

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

Failure of the Day: Tea Party

Today I found myself in the company of nine women over the age of 50, all wearing purple dresses and fairly extravagant red hats. We nibbled on crustless cucumber sandwiches, sipped tea from delicate china cups, and discussed Fremont’s upcoming Arts Festival. I tell you, it was the closest thing to being gentile that I have ever experienced.

When the conversation turned to my mother-in-law’s having spilled the beans that I am that most revered of all things, a published poet, the ladies wanted to hear all about it. I took a sip of tea and said, “I write mostly about brain tumors and fucking; you’d love it!” OK, I didn’t say that; I made up some barely passable crap about documenting the internal lives of women, but I thought that.

This red hat society thing is apparently huge with over-50 set, and I think it’s a perfectly lovely thing. (If anybody wants to make a boatload of cash, they should start designing and marketing red and purple glittery sneakers right away. Seriously.) It is so popular, in fact, that while we ate our dainty sandwiches, another red hat society group came into the restaurant. When I told Chris about the second group, he became very excited. “Was there a rumble?” he asked? “They were on your turf after all!” They came later in the afternoon though, and we were all much more interested in our petit fours than in fighting.

After lunch, we all poked around in antique stores, all of which carried red hat society accessories, all of which were purchased by the ladies. The leader of the ladies (in society parlance, “the Queen Mum”) kept pointing me toward the pink “Lady in Waiting” accessories that the under-50 society members wore. I was flattered by the invitation, I really was, but I’m not sure I want to spend the next 12 years actively anticipating being 50 so I can wear the brighter colors. All in all though, an interesting and unusual afternoon.


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