Girl Talk, Life Lessons, Mothers and Daughers, Pop Culture

Red Hat Lady for a Day

Have you ever seen a group of women all wearing red hats, and flamboyantly dressed in purple?  These older ladies can be seen lunching and laughing, and generally whooping it up all around town.  Some of them even wear feather boas… Truth be told, my mother is one of them and, on a recent visit home, I crashed the party.  But I did not wear the requisite purple, nor the red hat.   According to Red Hat Society lore, someone my age wears lavender and pink instead.

The Red Hat Society was founded quite by accident by a woman who bought a stylish red hat for herself, then started giving them as gifts to her friends.  The purple attire came about as an homage to the poem that begins, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple…”  Now, there are a bazillion chapters all over the country.

On the first Wednesday of every month, when my mother and her friends get together adorned in their whimsical outfits, they remain mindful that everyone is not as carefree and blessed as they are.  That’s why they never fail to pass around an envelope for their donation to a food pantry.

I was expecting lunch to be a quiet affair in a subdued café.  Instead, it was a raucous celebration in a sports bar with Bon Jovi and Led Zep piped through the loud speakers.  The ladies talked about hair and makeup, current events, and their families, just like my friends do when we get together.  And I nearly forgot how much older they were until the talk turned from gardening, to their former careers, and to their numerous doctor appointments.  Save for the arthritis, they were mostly just like their younger counterparts.

So thank you Red Hatters for welcoming me into your circle, and for offering me a window into what lies ahead.  It promises to be fun and fabulous!

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Best of Boston, Life Lessons, Pop Culture

Wishing Every Day was the Fourth of July

It’s no secret that here in Boston we like to do it up big on the Fourth of July.  For decades, the Boston Pops has performed at the Hatch Shell along the Esplanade and, after the concert, a spectacular fireworks display rains down over the Charles River.  My neighbors and I may curse our lack of closet space 364 days of the year, but on the Fourth of July, we have the best place on earth to watch the fireworks: our roof deck.

Last week, as neighbors and friends gathered with beach chairs and blankets, food and drink, I was struck by what a diverse group had assembled on our roof deck for the day’s festivities.  One young mother was nursing her nine-week old baby, while the oldest, a vivacious lady in her seventies, sported an American flag motif scarf.  There were straight couples and gay couples.  And folks whose ancestry represented each of the seven continents.  There were Boston Brahmins, first-generation Americans, and at least one New Yorker.  All afternoon and into the evening, the sense of community prevailed as we waited in anticipation for the fireworks to start.

On the day we celebrated the red, white, and blue, there was no red state/blue state divide.  No political talk at all.  Do we all agree on everything?  No way.  But for one glorious, sparkling day we had come together with respect, pride, and patriotism.  All of us different, yet all the same – Americans.

 

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Pop Culture

The Candy Holidays

It’s over.  I can breathe a sigh of relief.  You know what I mean.  The candy holidays.  No normal human being can resist the constant barrage of sugary treats that appear in September and last until April.

It starts with that damn candy corn and the “fun size” candy bars.  You can have a few because they’re so small, harmless really.  Yeah, right.  It’s only fun until you suddenly can’t zip up your favorite jeans unless you lie down on your bed and hold your breath.  Let’s say that by some small miracle you make it through Harvest without gaining any weight.  Now it’s the hap-happiest season and you’re surrounded by candy canes and chocolate Santas.  Be careful here or you might get sucked into the sugar vortex that leads to an obscenely gigantic heart-shaped box of caramel and nut-covered chocolates, and a bag of tiny red cinnamon candies that, if you eat one too many, will burn your tongue and leave the roof of your mouth numb.  Next you’re hopping down the bunny trail trying to dodge those pastel-shelled chocolate mini-eggs, (I refer to as “devil eggs”) and neon-yellow marshmallow chicks.

As alluring as all that candy is every time you go shopping at the supermarket, drugstore, or large retail chain, the real challenge, at least for me, is the day after Halloween, Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Easter when holiday candy gets marked down to half-price.  Forget the allure of the candy itself.  Who can resist such a bargain?  Clearly, not me.

Easter Sunday has come and gone and here’s my dilemma:

What to do about those Peeps?   A friend of mine once told me of a long-standing tradition that took place at her ivy-league university.  After eating one or two of the gritty, sticky little things, the rest of the brood got put into the microwave.  To get nuked.  Until they exploded.  I swear I’m not making this up.

Summer’s coming and fortunately, there are no Fourth of July sweets to tempt me.

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Best of Boston, Life Lessons, Pop Culture

New York to Boston and Back

 

The distance between my two homes is about 210 miles.  I’m a New Yorker who lives in Boston.

New York is the home my parents made for me.  All my peeps are there.  The Big Apple’s in my DNA – in the tone and cadence of my voice.  Regardless of where I go, my birth certificate and passport identify me as a native of the greatest city in the world.  Just like the song says, I want to wake up in a city that doesn’t sleep…”   We talk fast, and we walk fast, like a type-A personality after a couple of cans of Red Bull.  Go people watching in Times Square and you’ll see what I mean.  My favorite piece of architecture is the Chrysler Building.  Favorite hotel, the Algonquin.  Favorite drink, the egg cream, of course.  Growing up in Queens made me a Mets fan.  For life.  Because I’m of the belief that when it comes to baseball, you stick with your home team, no matter what.

Boston is the home I made for myself.  The day I moved to the Bay State I heard the Standells’ song about the Charles River playing on the car radio, “…Well I love that dirty water, oh, Boston you’re my home, and I was hooked.  I fell in love with the swan boats in the Public Garden, the Citgo sign, and Filene’s Basement.  Despite my proximity to Fenway Park, I am not, and never will be, a member of Red Sox Nation.  I did, however, fall hard for the Bruins.  Apparently my home team rule doesn’t apply to hockey.  We’re called Beantown, The Hub, and more recently “Title Town.”  And the water?  Not so dirty.

My tale of two cities is a love story.  When I’m in New York, it feels like home.  Yet when I leave to go back to Boston, I’m on my way home.  And visa versa.  It may sound confusing, but not to me.  Home is where the heart is.

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Pop Culture

Movie Magic

old-movie-theatre

“You should have fandangoed,” I was told, when I got to the movie theater and found the show had already sold out.  Are you kidding me?  It was 11:00 on a Saturday morning.

Fandangoed!  Where’s the spontaneity in that?  Call me old school, but if I have to plan that far ahead, pick a particular date, and specific time to go see a performance, it better well be a Broadway play or a rock concert.

Recently, I tried out this new high-tech multiplex where I was required to choose my seat by viewing a touch screen.  Then I was handed a tablet with a pre-loaded menu that ranged from burgers to steak, and bottled water to designer martinis.  All I really wanted was popcorn.  Or a box of snow caps.

Whatever happened to the movie magic?  The kind I felt every time I stepped into a movie house with an art deco lobby, velvet curtains, and a balcony.  They had names like The Paris, The Cheri, The Paramount.  Maybe the bar was set too high for me, because the first time I ever went to the movies I saw Mary Poppins at Radio City Music Hall.  I was three-years-old.  And everything about it was magic.

When I mentioned all this to my mom she not only agreed with me, she reminisced about her teenage hangout.  “We called our neighborhood movie The Itch,” she smiled nostalgically.  The Granada – fondly nicknamed The Itch – was rundown, with dirty, sticky floors from all the soda the kids spilled, and it was not uncommon to see a critter skittle by every so often.  The place sounded like it just oozed movie magic, and I’d take it over some soulless cookie cutter multiplex any day.

red poppy

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Girl Talk, Life Lessons, Pop Culture, The Brownstone

My House, My Rules

When you live alone, you can do whatever you want, whenever you want.  For instance, you have complete 24/7 control of the remote.  You always get to eat the last piece of cake.  And you can decorate your bathroom red – which I did.

My friends who are married are limited when it comes to home decor.  They paint their walls “mushroom” and choose stripes and solids for drapes and upholstery.  I can use colors and patterns no man would ever agree to have in his home.

I inherited a kitschy 1970’s styled bathroom when I bought my condo.  Picture a man cave.  Now picture the polar opposite.  The tub, toilet, sink, and even the floor tiles – pink.  Calamine lotion pink.  But since the fixtures were in such good condition, instead of gutting the whole thing, I decided to keep the pink.  Remember the number one rule of living alone: you can do whatever you want.

That’s when those iconic red poppies came to mind.

marimekko-unikko

“This is either going to be the most brilliant thing I’ve ever done,” I confided to the Marimekko salesgirl, “or else it’s gonna clash so badly that it’ll make me dizzy.”  She assured me I could return all of it: the shower curtain, the matching storage tins, the accent towels, if I passed out.  Once I knew I was on to something, I bought an armful of solid red towels and a lipstick-colored soap dish, tissue box, and waste basket set.  In the end, the pink ran and hid under all that red.

As a single woman home owner, I took on a big responsibility.  But with that responsibility came great freedom.   Recently, I looked with new eyes at the kitchen counter tops I also inherited.  Then I took a trip to that big home improvement store just to look around.

red poppy

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Girl Talk, Pop Culture

Mad for Plaid

My disdain for plaid began in childhood.  While most of my neighborhood friends went to public school wearing whatever they wanted, I attended parochial school dressed in a hideous Catholic School Uniform.  These frocks all look the same: a plaid jumper with a pleated skirt, a white blouse with a peter pan collar, and a nerdy crisscross tie.  The only possible variation is in color.  Mine was hunter green.

As if all that wasn’t bad enough, I was forced to wear profoundly ugly black oxford shoes.  I’m not talking hip Doc Martens, or timeless penny loafers.  Try old-lady orthopedic clodhoppers.

I remained trapped in that get-up for six long years.  It was more than a crime against fashion – it bordered on child abuse.  To this day, I do not own a single hunter green garment, my contempt for plaid is legendary, and pleats of any sort literally give me a case of hives.  Really, I’m not kidding about the hives.

During the nineties, plaid flannel shirts were a staple of the grunge look but I ignored them along with the Seattle Sound.  Now plaid’s back again. This time, the inspiration’s come from the Scottish kilts worn in the runaway television hit Outlander, based on the Diana Gabaldon books.  And while watching the show has become my guilty pleasure, I’ve continued avoiding plaid like the plague.

plaid-wrapUntil a few weeks ago, when an unexpected parcel arrived from my mother.  She’s a skilled seamstress, and I’m always the lucky recipient of her handiwork.  I quickly opened the package and to my surprise, it was a plaid wrap.

What was she thinking?  She knows I hate plaid. 

Ooh, me likey… 

This wrap has become my go-to outerwear piece for the fall.  It’s easy and comfy, and it looks great with everything in my wardrobe.  Disdain finally removed.  Now I’m mad for plaid.

red poppy

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