August 06, 2008

A Good Life and Horrible Advice

When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple
with a red hat that doesn't go, and doesn't suit me.

And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
and satin candles, and say we've no money for butter.

I shall sit down on the pavement when I am 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 people's gardens
and learn to spit.

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
and eat three pounds of sausages at a go
or only bread and pickles for a week
and hoard pens and pencils and beer nuts and things in boxes.

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.
But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

-Jenny Jones



The woman I am speaking of was a member of the Red Hat Society for a brief time, until she realized a very important thing: her particular brand of chaos precluded joining any group that would have her.

It's not that she wasn't a social creature - she danced, and played, and kept up with friends and family - it's just that having a society of anarchists seemed a bit... well... letting down the side, so to speak. It just missed the point.

Her version of living as you will involved packing up and moving to a different country where she barely spoke the language. Indeed, to a location that could only be reached by the boats of friendly natives, after a flight in a DC-8.

Plus running an on-line business that relied heavily on people believing in the healing power of magnets and happily scamming them out of their cash (never for very much, though) to keep you in the lifestyle to which you wish to become accustomed.

Kept things interesting, don't you know.

It's not like she hadn't left one country for another before: not being satisfied with a mere ocean separating her from her mother, she put a continent's distance between them as well, going from England to Canada and casually letting her passport expire until her mother had died. So much for expectations on the youngest to care for her parents in their dotage.

The opposite holds true with her own daughter, my own brilliant and beautiful Significant Other: their relationship had few silences, and none awkward, laden with things that should/shouldn't/must be said or any such nonsense. Things that should have been said were said, and things that should have been done were done, and all while Sue was alive.

Which makes sense, don't you think?

Go and re-read the poem above. Now, how many times does it say the protagonist will tell those she loves that she loves them? Or she'll help a neighbour in their garden? Or she'll show the value of others by treating them with simple respect?


I think I know which "old woman" I'm going to consider the advice of. No offence to Ms. Jones (I'm sure she meant well), but change the protagonist to a teenage boy, and see how you like them...

Yeah, I'll stick with the crazy lady who moved to the tropics instead of the irritating punk with ADD.


posted by Thursday at 9:26 pm


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