Friday, February 8, 2013

I ♥ Sacramento - Crocker Art Museum

Since November, the Crocker has been featuring an exhibition of Norman Rockwell's work. Magazine covers, paintings, movie posters and more were displayed in the museum's new, beautiful expansion. I first got to see the exhibit at the members preview day, and went to go see it two more time after that, the last time on Friday. As soon as I heard that Rockwell would be showing, I knew I wanted to go with my Granny, who loved his nostalgic paintings. In true to me form, I waited until the last possible day to call her and see if she wanted to go with us, only to be informed that she was going with her "lady friends" code for "Red Hat Ladies" code for "Claire is crashing THAT party because she has always wanted to hang out with Red Hat Ladies."

Years ago, I worked with a woman who showed me Jenny Joseph's poem Warning. I always thought it was funny and charming and thought to myself, "I want to be that kind of old lady." You know- the spunky sassy kind who does fun things, has ice cream for breakfast and says what she thinks when she thinks it (unless it isn't nice, I don't want to be a mean old lady) and wears hats and formal wear to lunch because she can. I guess it isn't such a far cry from the 33 year old me.  

My friend and I talked about how when we were old we would get red diva hats (think 1950s hats) and purple cocktail dresses and rent limos so we could cut the rug whenever we felt like it, because we were spunky old ladies, after all. We would joke about how fun we would be and we would age, if not gracefully, with good humor and great clothes. And champagne.

Once, when Aaron and I were flying to St. Louis to visit a friend, we had a layover in Arizona. I swear to you, the entire airport was full of Red Hat Ladies. It was a sea of red hats and purple velour pantsuits. There were a lot of walkers and wheelchairs and purple t-shirts silkscreened t-shirts. Few of those ladies looked to be very happy and seemed more grouchy, than spunky and sassy. Granted they were all hanging out in an airport in Arizona, but still. I won't say that I was horrified, but I did kind of feel like my notion of what it meant to be a "red hat lady" was a little bit shaken, if you know what I mean. 

Since then, those red hat ladies have really become a "thing". It seems to be a rite of passage - once a lady reaches a certain age, she finds a group of Red Hats to hang out with. There are entire sections of Hallmark stores devoted to Red Hat Lady kitsch, which did a great deal to ruin the appeal of being a red hat, purple shirt wearing, old lady.

My Granny has always fit into the spunky, sassy, ice cream for breakfast eating category of older ladies, so when she said she was joining a Red Hat group, I must have had a look flash across my face, because she immediately said to me, "Oh, not that kind of Red Hat group! I asked and these ladies are an energetic bunch! They like to really get out and do stuff!" I laughed, because far be it from my Granny to not "get out and do stuff".

She regularly drives to San Francisco for the day with her "lady friends", while I refuse to drive in that city, even if my life depended on it. She and her friends traveled Europe together, she took a Japanese painting course and pottery classes. She remains one of my favorite travelling companions because nothing keeps her down and she is willing to explore every roadside attraction from here to San Diego.

So last Friday Charlotte and I got to meet her Red Hat friends who are just as spunky and sassy as she is. There wasn't a velour pantsuit in sight (thank goodness) just smart purple suits and fancy red hats that looked as if they belonged to English ladies. In short, I loved them. When Granny walked up, I immediately pulled out my camera to capture her chicness. She is scolding me for not letting her freshen up her lipstick before I took the picture, but I'm rotten like that, and she still looks great.

Both Charlotte and I decided we want to be Red Hat Ladies sooner rather than later, but only if we can join Granny's group.

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