I've been wanting to see "Hats! The Musical" for a while if only for the chapeaux. It'll be like a big fashion show only with lots of you-know-what and music and dancing. I'm a sucker for musicals - I adored Bernadette Peters in Gypsy and I performed in several shows including one tribute to Broadway favorites Irving Berlin and Cole Porter while I was in high school. Then in college I purchased my first CD with Linda Ronstadt singing songs by both Berlin and Porter to the sounds of the Nelson Riddle Orchestra. I plastered a poster of Linda wearing a pouffy 50s iridescent strapless dress on my dorm room wall. When she came to Chicago, I convinced a friend to go. I still have that CD. I need to play "Someone to Watch Over Me," the ultimate rejection blues song. Then in the late 1990s I learned how to lindy hop to those same songs. I'll never get musicals out of my O negative blood.
So I know I'll enjoy hearing Melissa Manchester (remember her "You Should Hear How She Talks About You?" It's the one and same Melissa!) in the lead role. She plays a woman facing her 50th birthday. Can you guess how she copes? You got it.
However, I have a problem with the theme. I'm not anywhere near that milestone. I don't really want to hear about hot flashes, excess facial hair, and anything else a woman who's nearly a half-a-century-old faces. Complaining about life never does any good, although I'm all for wearing something fanciful on top of your head to make you feel better whether you're two or 102-years-old.
What if Red Hat Society members monopolize the audience? I can see them snubbing me already if I'm not wearing a red topper and a purple suit, their uniform. They'll poke their hat pins in my behind as I walk down the aisle. I'll yelp in so much pain that I'll be catapulted right onto the stage where I'll have to kick up my heels with Kathie Lee Gifford and her adorable young male back-up dancers. I'm certain I'll be up for the task since I know how to lindy-hop, salsa, foxtrot. If that fails, I can ask Kathie Lee about Regis Philbin, her former costar. Maybe he's worn a fedora or two?
After I return to my seat, exhilarated and embarrassed all at once, the Red Hat Society members might take pity on me. I can see them passing me a membership application as they leave. "Honey, your hat's cute," one woman with a particularly flamboyant hat, will say. "You're too young just yet, but you should really thinking about joining our group. You'd love it."
I'll give her a dirty look.
"Look lady, I wore a uniform in junior high and college," I'll tell her. "I had two years of a brown-and-white houndstooth print skirt with a darker than mud cardigan and polyester vest. Same skirt, every day. In high school? Four years in a poly cranberry plaid A-line skirt with a matching cardigan."
The lady will stare at me aghast, just shocked at my response. No woman has ever talked to her this way. Everyone loves the Red Hat Society.
"I was never so ready to get rid of that skirt at graduation," I'll continue. "My classmates autographed it. I kept it for a while then I tossed. I swore I would never wear a uniform again. Ever. Not even if you paid me to wear one in a Saturday Night Live
"I'm so sorry you had a bad experience. But we're just a bunch of old ladies having fun," she'll cackle.
"Lady, I know how to have fun. I think the strawberry-shaped cocktail hat on my head is proof enough. I don't need to wear some stupid red hat or stinking purple suit to feel validated. I am woman, hear me purr. Watch me dance better than Kathie Lee."
I'll take the application form and instantly turn it into a paper hat on the spot. At that precise moment, one of the back-up dancers, about age 32, will leap off the stage, flinging sweat everywhere as he jumps.
He'll land right next to me, looking at me with an adoring gaze. He'll stroke my arm suggestively, whispering sweet somethings in the ear on my better half. (Actually he'll say something like, "You can pay me cash in the alley or write a check to Escort Services." But those silly ladies won't need to know that.)
Kissing my new man on the cheek, and arching my brow, I'll coyly offer my latest concotion.
"Here's my application. Try that on for size."
However, I will quickly withdraw the hat, and smash it with the heel of my BCBG Girls wedgie, trying not to lose balance, of course. You can't trip or fall when you're making a statement. It loses its effectiveness.
Boy Toy will draw me near protectively, and I'll lean my head on his shoulder and we'll walk out of "Hats! The Musical" giving Melissa and her colleagues finally something to gab about. And you know what? I don't need to hear how she talks about me. Who cares? I've got my man and we're going to get a pint of Guinness or two or three.(photo information: sisal hat, Intrigato Boutique, Ennis, Ireland)