When I’m an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Navy

I recently re-read the poem “When I’m an Old Woman, I Shall Wear Purple.” I believe this poem was the beginning of the Red Hat clubs for women — that club that should delight me but kind of gets on my nerves for no reason.

Anyway,  I loved this poem when I read it in my thirties, found it slightly delightful in my forties, and now am growing to loathe it in my fifties. Here’s one of the stanzas –

[At fifty]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

I’m getting closer to the “old woman” status, and suddenly hoarding pens and eating sausages doesn’t sound nearly as delightful and whimsical as it did when I was younger. Neither does wearing crazy hats and going out in the rain in your satin slippers. People put you away for stuff like that.

Let’s face it, as Baby Boomers we’re not into the crazy old lady thing because we have too many things and too many people to support. Therefore, I’ve written my own Baby Boomer version of the poem to counter:

When I am an old woman I shall wear navy
With a baseball cap that suits me perfectly
And I shall have no social security with which to buy satin slippers
I shall still have a child or two living with me
And will be working to support my 95 year-old parents
I will grow flowers and feed the birds
And fight to save the earth.

I will battle the fat spreading through my middle
And run marathons while carrying weights
I will write my memoir and be in demand
I will take time to go on “Ellen”
And we shall laugh hysterically about being old women

I am already practicing now
So no one will be surprised
When, suddenly, I keep wearing navy