You would not believe the stares I get when I got out, black pants, orange shirt, and purple hat, head held high. You wouldn’t believe the bizarre stances people freeze in when they see me in my mud brown coat, maroon pants, and purple hat, head held high. You wouldn’t believe the expressions people shoot in my direction when I get out of my finned car, a Cadillac, pale pink, in bright green sandals, bright blue shirt, flowery print pants, and my purple hat. That’s right. My purple hat.
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I’ve lived sixty-five years, and I feel great. My hair’s thinning, graying, doesn’t really do anything except lay their limp, drooping like my skin down to my shoulders in limp wisps, a ghost of what it used to be. And guess what: I don’t care. I brush it back, tie it up in a tie, or a clip, or a claw, and as long as it stays out of my way and stays clean I’m happy with it. Oh, well, as long as it doesn’t interfere with my purple hat, then I’m happy.
The colors I wear are loud; the backfire from my car is almost as audible, and me? Well, let’s just say if I have an opinion on something I say it. Straight-out. No cushioning unless it’s someone under-aged and ignorant of the world…and young enough to admit it.
Oh, but my purple hat, that’s what people know me for. I’ve been nicknamed “Purple” by my friends, and anyone else who’s seen me around. And my enemies, well, to them I’m “the Rotten Plum.” That’s right…Laugh it up, I think. That’s almost the color my hat is, anyway.
I got this hat when I was five years old. It had a long purple plume that was nearly as long as I was tall. It had a wide brim with a ribbon around the hat itself. And the purple? It was vibrant, loud, and full of electric energy that it always thrilled me when I saw it, and gave me a shock of static oneness with the universe and all that went with it; it gave me the magic to be whom ever I wanted, be it pirate captain or Wonder Woman out to save the universe with my super powers. I wore it around the house, parading myself with the kind of invincible sureness that all five-year-olds are prone to. My mother would scold me if I tried to wear it outside. She’d make me put on one that matched what I had on. I’ve never been good with matching colors…Not that it mattered, or matters, to me.
When I was ten my mother tried to sneak it out of the house, and get rid of it. I found it, took it back, and told her I was going to keep it, even if I couldn’t wear it. I felt wonderful when I saw it, and it made all the problems of wearing a dress and going to school vanish into nothing.
At fifteen, well, I locked it away, seeing myself as someone who’d outgrown that old, worn, purple hat. No more magic, no more thrill…just a little shock of peace when I’d see it, sitting, moping on the top shelf in the back of my closet. I could wear pants, but it wasn’t popular for women to, so I didn’t wear them. My hat wasn’t popular, so I didn’t wear it.
Twenty I had my first daughter, and that hat stayed up there, feather tattered, brim covered in dust, stayed alone on the shelf so my daughter wouldn’t play with it. We moved, my husband and I, not long after that, and it was put into storage. There it stayed, in a box, in the dark, for years.
Two more daughters later, and four grandchildren later, I found it as I was cleaning out some of my children’s things. I was fifty-six, then. Seeing that hat again, it awoke the five-year-old superhero in me. I took it out of the box, wiped off the dust, and put it in a glass china hutch in the formal dining room. I turned it so the feather was partially hidden, seeing as how it wasn’t in great shape after so long a time in storage.
Then sixty rolled around. It had crept on me, and I wasn’t completely ready for it. I felt old. SIXTY! Can you imagine, a sixty-year-old woman, out and about doing things that all the young soccer moms did while their kids were at school? I could. I went out, did the errands I had to run, and went back home with my tail between my legs. I had changed into an old, withered ninny.
My brother died a few months after I turned sixty-one. He was my younger brother. My husband tried to get me to snap out of the funk I went into, but nothing helped. Then, as he was looking through an old box of photos, he stumbled upon me, at age five, in one of my mother’s dresses, a pair of her shoes, and my purple hat. The dress, shoes and hat apparently had no way of matching, and it was obvious even in a black and white photograph. He took my hat from the china hutch, got it cleaned, got it a new ribbon, and a brand new purple feather that was exactly the same color as the old one.
He surprised me with it in an old hat box, and said it reminded him of me when I was child. He’d known me then, too, you see. We’d met when I was sixteen, just barely shy of my seventeenth birthday. And he’d seen that old hat in my closet when he was over getting a book I borrowed from him. I told him to ignore the ugly thing, but he’d sensed I didn’t mean it when I said it was ugly.
That day, I became a sixty-one-year-old with the flamboyance of a five-year-old, the wisdom of one of the Fates, and the look of an old ninny who’d shake her finger at some kids walking past her porch who were being too loud. My husband thought it was funny. I’d go out with our grandchildren and our children, in the most modest of clothes (flower prints with bright yellow and orange flowers being the most calm of these) and then I’d have my purple hat, whether it matched or not.
He found it so funny, I went and got him a red hat to wear with mine. Bright, flame red, fifties style, with a vibrant red band to match. “Old Red,” and “Purple,” we were dubbed.
He’s seventy-four now, still wears his hat, but only if he’s with me. I’m sixty-five, my skin is sagging; my hair’s limp, and I have the body of the next Mrs. Clause. But you know, none of it matters to me any more. I mean, only five-year-olds wear electric green shirts and deep blue skirts to church, orange blouses with plaid pants to the mall, and yes, a brilliant purple hat to tie it all together, and finish it all off.
I'd love to hear your opinions on this, if you have the time to give them ^_^