Many years ago, when no woman left her house without a hat and gloves and purse, when head coverings for women were mandatory in some churches, when women still wore stockings, when men knew when to wear a necktie and polished their shoes, dressing up was fun. Now, everyone acts like it’s elitist or sexist or pretentious. Except on Easter Sunday.
You can count on seeing hats on women and girls and even a few men in church on Easter Sunday. People you don’t see the rest of the year will show up looking as if they stepped out of a Doris Day movie.
If you dressed up in an elegant hat to go shopping at the mall, your fellow shoppers would look around for the hidden
camera. If you wore a cocktail hat to a restaurant, people would snicker over their martinis. If you wore a hat to a wedding, you’d surely lose it when dancing to “Uptown Funk.” (Unless you’re Bruno Mars, whose fedora appears to be anchored to that bandana beneath it, but I don’t think I’d wear a bandana to a wedding.)
Hats are sexy. You can flirt demurely from beneath a brim or boldly behind a veil or avert your eyes entirely. A well-
placed flower or feather screams romance, although I once bought a straw hat with the palest pink flowers and a pale pink and sage checked ribbon. The Veterinarian said that all I needed was a price tag dangling from the front, and I could be Minnie Pearl’s clone.
Some people complain that they don’t look good in hats, but I think they just aren’t used to wearing them. You need to go to a store with lots of different hats and try on every
single one of them to figure out which hat looks good on you. I, for one, look spectacular in a large-brimmed hat but ridiculous in a baseball cap. I just don’t have the right shaped head. The last time I wore a baseball cap, to an actual baseball game, I stuffed the interior to give it some shape. I’m much happier in one of my sturdy straw hats, which I always wear to the beach for sun protection and to pretend that no one can see me in my swim suit.
Google hats and find out how to wear them. Don’t assume that they’re only perched on the back of your head. And make sure your hair is styled to go with the hat. The smaller the hat, the smaller the hairstyle. A pony tail is great with a baseball cap. A chignon (low bun) or French twist works with a fascinator. Flowing hair works with a broad-brimmed hat.
I won’t be wearing a hat this Easter. When you sing in a church choir and are covered by cassock (black robe) and cotta (the white thing), a hat
looks pretty stupid. I guess I could wear it into church at 7:45 when we rehearse, but, by 8:30, I’ll be wearing my choir dress until 1pm, which defeats the purpose. No one will see it, anyway. After singing Handel’s Hallelujah Chorus at two services (9 and 11, historic St. James Episcopal Church, Monkton, if you’re in the area), I won’t much feel like showing off. And an Easter bonnet needs an Easter dress (which no one will see under the choir robe) and high heels (which you can’t stand in for four hours of singing).
I won’t be wearing my beautiful black straw with a black straw bow, attempting to channel my inner-Audrey Hepburn. (Of course, Audrey was tall and elegant, and I am short and a pretender.) I won’t be wearing the beautiful black velour felt that I got in the mid-60s, which remains wearable. I won’t be wearing either of My Mother’s vintage 1950s hats, one black velvet with a sassy feather and veil and the other brown felted wool with a brown veil. (It would take a lot of nerve, even for me, to wear either of them out in public, much less to church.) Nor the navy cloche nor an azure and lime green straw nor an ivory straw with a fine cloud of dotted tulle circling the crown. Geez, I wish I had somewhere to wear any of them. sigh
Come on, let’s bring back hats! In the cause of sun protection. In the cause of beauty. In the cause of romance. In the cause of civilization. Hats. They’re not just for Easter any more.
Spring may or may not be upon us, but Peeps have been in my kitchen for about a month. I remember when Peeps came in one shape (chicken) and one color (yellow). On their website, the Peeps folks offer a year-round explosion of squishy rabbits, ghosts, pumpkins, reindeer, snowmen, Strawberry crème hearts, and sour watermelon and blue raspberry flavors, in colors like turquoise and lavender.
I’m a traditionalist. Mine are yellow, and they are chickens. Of course, they’re chickens, they’re Peeps! Did you ever hear a rabbit “peep?” Mine are purchased far enough in advance (and on sale the day after Easter) to become dry and crispy on the edges. Of course, you can speed up the drying process by slightly slitting open the package. Unfortunately, then I can hear them peeping at me.
Last week, I posted this on Facebook:
“OH, NO! The package of Peeps has been opened! Why did I do that?”
30 of my crazy friends wrote to agree with me. Well, not all 30 are crazy. I was surprised to find that even my most staid friends agree that the best Peeps are aged Peeps. But, as my cousin said,
“Some are always willing to be eaten before their time.”
I’m a woman who has eaten in many Michelin-starred restaurants (for lunch, when it’s cheaper and seems incredibly more chic to be indulging in a leisurely lunch and a bottle of wine at mid-day), but a finely aged, sugar-coated, airy confection rivals the finest meringues, and I do love meringues.
I once had dinner with about eight veterinarians at the now-shuttered Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. My friend, a Philadelphia native and holder of multiple graduate degrees, had been intimidated to eat there, but, she thought, if she could get the globe-trotting Veterinarian and me to go with her and her delightful husband, she could cross it off her bucket list. As we were in town for a conference, she started adding people to the reservation, telling them (as you sometimes must do with veterinarians),
“You have to wear a jacket and tie, cowboy boots are ok. It’s going to be expensive, but you can afford it, and I don’t want to hear any complaining, because this means a lot to me.”
(I love her. She’s as direct as I am.)
We had a riotous time from the get-go. In that elegant bastion of Frenchness in the wilds of urban America, where the menu was entirely in French, the maître d’ was gracious and accommodating and, by the end of the evening, was telling us jokes. At the end of a dinner made excellent by the company of friends and great service, the dessert trolley rolled up to the table, boasting every manner of sweet imaginable, and about six different meringue-based confections. I asked the waiter,
“Which meringue do you recommend that I have?”
“I recommend that Madame has one of each.”
And I did. It rivals the time I was served 10 different chocolate desserts at Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago and the pistachio nougat on a pool of dark chocolate that the waiter in Dijon referred to as “dessert before dessert.” (We had pre-ordered the Grand Marnier soufflé, which followed the nougat and preceded the petits fours which preceded the chocolate truffles.)
So, yes, I know my food. And I know my Peeps. They should be served aged, slightly crispy, and eaten rapidly. A friend of mine says they’re great toasted over an open fire, but I don’t think I could bear to see my little friends go up in flames.
The guy with a woman draped around his neck or the guy propped up on bed pillows. Skip.
The guy in funky, Elton John eye wear with Rip Taylor hair or the unshaven guy taking a selfie of himself in a mirror but staring at the ceiling. Skip.
The cute guy with a profile that could have been written by a four-year old or the serial killer squinting at the camera. Hmmm. This is a tough one. The cute guy would be nice to look at for a couple hours, but I fear that his 12-year old self would monopolize the conversation. Or, worse, that it’s a scammer. Oh, well, let’s go with Cute Guy. He won’t respond, anyway.
There are no winners in this game. Of the many times that I have looked at a photo, made my choice, and written to someone, only two have responded. One guy said, “We are not a match,” and the other said, “I am cruising on my sailboat and out of the country for the next two months.” As the “experts” recommend, I am always polite and brief and ask a knowledgeable question about one of their interests that requires more than a “yes” or “no” answer.
For example, if you say you are a wine aficionado, I might ask, “Which wine do you like with turkey?“ because there are a lot of acceptable variables. Could be a white. Could be a red. He could be a traditionalist or could be thinking out of the box (not of wine, I hope). And wouldn’t I be an interesting date with whom to talk about wine? Or food?
Or, if your profile photo is taken in front of the Eiffel Tower, “What is your favorite museum in Paris?” because I’m not wasting time with someone who would go all the way to France and not step into one of its many fine museums. And wouldn’t I be an interesting date with whom to talk about art? Or Paris?
Or, if you claim to be a pilot, I will ask, “Which airport has the best $100 hamburger?” because every general aviation pilot knows the joke about spending $100 in gas to fly to an airport to have a hamburger. And wouldn’t I be an interesting date with whom to talk about aviation? Or hamburgers?
Hmmm…maybe I should try dumber questions. I bet these are guaranteed to get me a date.
To the guy who’s a homebody and likes to snuggle in front of a fire, “Would you like to take a nap on my comfy sofa while I clean the kitchen after I fix you a four-course dinner?”
To the guy in his alma mater’s sweatshirt holding a football, “Would you tell me all about that winning touchdown you made in high school?”
To the shirtless guy in swim trunks on a beach, “Want to compare tan lines?”
Finally, I have a word of advice for a particular gentleman who wasted my time for nearly three weeks:
If you initiate contact with me by commenting on my profile photos like a man besotted, writing “I would love to meet you” and “You are beautiful; let’s share a bottle of wine” and “You and your dog are beautiful; I could kiss you both” and you IM and email me multiple times with extensive information about yourself and your children and how compatible we are, and if I should respond favorably to all of this, and if you set up a future date with me, and if you subsequently never write to me again to confirm the date that YOU offered and don’t respond to my very brief inquiry (“Which wine should I have with my pizza, or should I look elsewhere?”) and if I google you and find out that you were lying about your age and, I suspect, your marital status, just know that the soft, warm breath of my dear friend, Karma, is breathing down your neck.
And with Karma for a friend, who am I to complain? Life is good (mostly). Soli Deo Gloria!