Sunday, June 19

Blooming Mississippi

Mississippians have some sort of sick fascination with the state flower, which like all flowers is simply the plant's sex organ. The magnolia, however, is a particularly overblown, ostentatious sex organ, and boy, do we love them. I have seen 6-foot tall magnolia paintings, ceramic magnolia ashtrays, magnolia aprons and puff-painted magnolia sweatshirts, primary-colored magnolia flags, and entire magnolia-themed bathrooms. Here's a tip: unless you are Georgia O'Keefe, sweetie, you cannot render this damn flower as well as you think you can, and there are probably more hand-crafted magnolias in circulation than are produced in every magnolia tree in Mississippi each year anyhow. Just stop it, already.

The Red Hat Society
A couple of years ago, I walked into a New Orleans-themed restaraunt in Hattiesburg to a sea of red hats--plumed, laced, jauntily placed. I had heard of this! These were a local group of the Red Hat Society, ladies "of a certain age" who had (ostensibly) embraced the devil-may-care paen to older-age, "I Shall Wear Purple," by Jenny Joseph. I loved this idea. I love non-conformists of any stripe. I am fascinated by taggers, Travellers, and transvestites, just to mention some of the T's.

Well, since I was the editor of a small magazine in Hattiesburg at the time, I approached the group (probably about 150 present that day) to see if I could talk to some of them and score an interview with the "Queen." The ladies I spoke with that day were very sweet and offered me their Red Hat business cards along with the Queen's phone number. So I call her for an interview--a sympathetic interview, mind you. No snark.

Once again, I had gotten the idea of something confused with the that thing in practice. This also happended to me in high school, when I, not fashionable (or rich) enough for the rich kids; not quite smart enough of for the geeks; not atheletic; not musical; just a reader and a big mouth, I decided that the punks were for me. They didn't care what you looked like, right? Be yourself, and all those other poseurs could just leave us alone. Well, no. I didn't wear enough black, and I didn't like spending Saturday nights destroying the IHOP, one of the few places that would let us sit there for little money, for which we rewarded them by making huge messes for minimum-wage employees to clean up. I wasn't a very good punk, either. But I digress.

The Red Hat Queen was suspicious. What is this for? Who was I, exactly? She would have to call someone higher up (?) to approve the interview. Turns out, as I should have known all along, that the Red Hat folks are rich, white ladies who are playacting at being unique by gathering in full-regalia (their phrase, not mine) in huge groups in upscale restaurants. I never did get that interview.

Well, fuck you, Red Hat ladies. And fuck you, too, magnolia artistes.

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