3/22/2009

When I Am an Old Woman, I Will Not Wear Purple With YOU

There is a popular poem that is floating around Hallmark card stores and the blog-o-sphere, inspiring a woman's movement all over the globe. It goes something like this :

WARNING
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.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people's gardens . . .
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.

While I generally live my life so as to celebrate the ideas of this poem - non conformity, joie de vivre, who cares what the neighbors think ? live for today- I can't help but notice that this little ditty has somehow inspired groups of women all over the place to form clubs, dress alike in the manner suggested by the poem, and get together to celebrate their "individuality" by ALL DOING THE EXACT SAME THING. I do have many girlfriend groups I spend time with, and whose very existence makes my life a delight, and I am generally FOR any sort of "sistah" bonding or socializing in any form. And yet...seeing groups like the one above, which I saw at a museum in New Orleans this weekend, strikes me as somehow missing the point : The poem is a homage to enjoy one's own uniqueness, and does not urge its adherents to conformity. Any conformity. Even the conformity of being in a cool girl friends group that all wears the same outfit and goes about together, doing the same wacky things in the same way with each other, in the uniform of the club. Great example of irony, here.

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