“Anecdotal....Inspirational....It is a philosophy definitely intended to celebrate the milestones and express individuality, a philosophy worthy of large-scale promotion.”—Booklist
The Red Hat Society's Laugh Lines: Stories of Inspiration and Hattitudeby Sue Ellen Cooper
Life begins at 50! And the women of the Red Hat Society are proud of it. In The Red Hat Society's Laugh LInes. Sue Ellen Cooper and the women of the RHS celebrate the life experiences that have made them who they are today. Over the years, they've accumulated well-earned laugh lines and cry-lines from wonderfully funny, incredibly touching stories that will warm readers' hearts and touch their souls. Just as there is so much more to each of these women than a purple outfit and a red hat, there's so much more to their lives than the RHS--"from their husbands, children, and grandchildren to living life fabulously after 50. This book is a collection of some of the most touching and funniest stories that they want to share with their sisters, and is filled with sidebars recommending their favorite books and movies. With contributions from members across the country, this collection is bound to thrill all Red Hatters--"and those who soon will be.
- Grand Central Publishing
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Read an Excerpt
The Red Hat Society's Laugh Lines
By Sue Ellen Cooper
Warner BooksCopyright © 2005 The Red Hat Society, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneL.O.L. (Laughing Out Loud)-at Ourselves
Growing old is mandatory. Growing up is optional. -Author unknown
There's not one shred of evidence supporting the notion that life is serious. -Author unknown
We Red Hatters take our silliness seriously. We believe that the deliberate cultivation of a healthy sense of humor can transform many a life situation, and, really, there are so many funny things to smile at or laugh about if you stay alert and watch for them. Lighthearted playfulness is our way of amusing ourselves and one another, and my, can it be effective! This spirit is evident in our chapter names, our titles, our outfits, and in every activity we plan. Whether you're a giggler, a chortler, a chuckler, a hand-over-the-mouth titterer, a guffawer, or (God forbid) a snorter, you are warned to avoid consuming liquids while reading this chapter. (It's only funny when milk comes out of someone else's nose.)
For those of you who are new to the Red Hat Society, I'd like to introduce you to Ruby. Ruby is our official mascot, and she epitomizes this ability to laugh better than anyone I know. For those of you who are old friends with Ruby, I'm pleased to say that she'll be accompanying you throughout this book.
THE FUNNY PAGES
"You're never too old to do goofy stuff." -Ward Cleaver
It has been said, "Blessed is he who can laugh at himself, for he shall never cease to be amused." How true that is! The quickest and easiest place to look for a source of humor is within ourselves. Fortunately, we Red Hatters are capable of enjoying a good laugh at our own expense! And in addition to that, we are secure enough to share those stories with others, knowing that they will get as big a kick out of them as we do.
Susan Powers (the Fabulous Founders, Fullerton, California) needs reading glasses, as does her husband, Bob. "He would frequently lose his glasses," she says, "and ask me to help find them. This went on for months. Finally, one night while I was contentedly reading, he came into the room and asked if I had seen his glasses. I was so exasperated that I flipped out, telling him I was not the keeper of his glasses and that he needed to keep track of them himself. In the midst of my barrage, I realized that he was looking at me with a very strange expression on his face. I stopped long enough to ask him why he was looking at me that way. You can imagine my embarrassment when he said, 'You're wearing my glasses.'"
Is there really such a thing as coincidence? Some of us don't think so. If you've lived long enough, you've probably had a lot of encounters with what feels like divine Providence. Gay Mentes (Red Hot Jazzy Ladies, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada) writes: "Way back over a quarter of a century ago, when I was about a quarter of a century old, I was living in Lumby and decided to make the move to Vancouver, a few hours west. Before I left, some people I knew mentioned that their son was a policeman in Vancouver. The father said, 'If my son ever stops you, tell him I said not to give you a ticket!' Several months passed and I was out and about one evening, when sure enough I was pulled over. I knew I had been going a little quickly, and my life flashed before my eyes. The policeman came over and I handed him my license and registration. 'I see you're from Lumby,' he said. 'My folks live in Lumby.' The wheels in my head started turning. Could it be possible? I said, 'Are your parents Willie and Mike Porter?' And he said, 'Yes!' I wondered if I dared, and I replied, 'Your dad told me before I left that if you ever pulled me over, I should tell you that he says not to give me a ticket!' We chatted for a few minutes, and guess what? He sent me on my way with just a warning!"
We may have to struggle with inconveniences, but we'll never lose our sense of humor! Queen Karen Sizemore (the Ellet Hat Flashers, Akron, Ohio) was experiencing repeated problems with her new hip replacement. It kept popping out of its socket. One day, it happened again, and she called 911 to get someone to take her to the emergency room-again. Since her doors were locked, the emergency team had to go in through a window. As she stood on her good leg, favoring her bad hip, a skinny young fireman tumbled onto her bed from the window. Grinning broadly, he rolled over and said, "Mrs. Sizemore, I'm back in your bed again!" As they took her to the front porch and out to the ambulance, she told her neighbors that she had celebrated her sixty-sixth birthday with five young firemen in her bed. And off she went with her Red Hat Society earrings dangling.
"I finally got it all together; now I'm falling apart." -Anonymous
Kathy Jeske (the Red Hat Disorder, Santa Clara, California) was passing through security at Kansas City International Airport, piling a big tote bag of books onto the conveyor belt, when her skirt somehow became tangled up with something she was carrying and fell all the way off, puddling around her ankles. (She says she will be forever grateful that she was wearing a slip that day.) With great dignity, she gathered the skirt in her arms and, waiting her turn, passed through the metal detector. Then she scurried behind the machine and hurriedly stepped back into her skirt. There was one highly positive result from this experience: Kathy's companion, who is terrified of flying, laughed so hard at the whole thing that she didn't have time to worry about the takeoff.
Sometimes what gets us is not what we've lost but what we've unknowingly picked up. Judi Simmons (the Ascot Ladies in Red, Sarasota, Florida) went on a vacation to Paris some years ago. Dressed to the nines in high-heeled boots and a long mink coat, she had just left the rest room and was walking through a long lobby. She noticed people looking at her and thought it was due to her fine outfit. She was walking proud when she saw someone pointing. When she turned her head to see what they were looking at, she saw that she was dragging yards of toilet paper behind her!
"The child in you, like all children, loves to laugh, to be around people who can laugh at themselves and life. Children instinctively know that the more laughter we have in our lives, the better." -Wayne Dyer
Lynda Herzog-Pope is the queen of Herzog's Hilarious Hellyun Hairdressers and Healthcare Heffers of Haughton in Haughton, Louisiana. (That chapter name had to be included in this book.) She tells a tale about herself that would turn our faces as red as our hats if it happened to any of us!
Because she had recently married a man who was a member of the Shriners, Lynda received an invitation to her first formal luncheon for Shriner wives. Her husband urged her to go, telling her that there would be at least a hundred women there and it would give her a chance to start getting acquainted with the wives of his friends. When she arrived, the receptionist could find no record of her reservation, but, overlooking what seemed to be just a slipup, the woman was kind enough to escort Lynda to the last place available, which was at an excellent table right in front. Lynda was glad she had dressed up, as every woman in the room was gorgeously attired. She made small talk with the woman next to her as they enjoyed fabulous appetizers and filet mignon. Then it was time for dessert. The waiters wheeled out a three-tier cake and a second table, this one bearing a pile of beautifully wrapped packages-undoubtedly a stack of door prizes! At this point, a woman with a microphone stepped up to Lynda, saying, "Let's start at this end of the table. Would you introduce yourself and tell everyone your relationship to the bride-to-be?" Lynda stammered that she was so sorry but she had obviously crashed their party! The other women in the room "absolutely screamed with laughter and applause!" It turned out that the Shriners' event was across the hall. But the women insisted that Lynda zip across the hall to put in an appearance and then return to them for dessert, so she did. What friendly people! (Some of them must have been Red Hatters.)
"The happiest people don't necessarily have the best of everything. They just make the best of everything." -Anonymous
Vice Queen Bee Doris D. Meneses from the Red Hat Mamas, Homestead, Florida, is a cantor at an 8:00 A.M. Mass. She sings the music and introduces the hymns to the congregation. One Sunday morning, she was announcing the offertory hymn. She says, "I glanced at the page of the hymnbook and clearly said, 'During the presentation of gifts today, please join me in singing hymn number two seventy-SEX!' I held my breath for a moment and didn't move an inch, hoping that no one else had caught my error. No such luck! Within seconds, there was a tremendous guffaw from the middle of the church and many more parishioners joined in the laughter. I couldn't look at the congregation, so I glanced over at the priest, who was just looking at me with questioning eyes, a large smile on his face. I am not easily embarrassed, but that day I turned all shades of red!" I wonder if she was wearing a purple dress that day; it would have been so serendipitous!
A new version of that not-so-fresh feeling: Princess Daughter Laura McCann (the Red Hat Mamas, Oxford Hills, Norway/Paris, Maine) has two dogs, which she loves dearly. One evening, she heard one of them making ghastly sounds outside. She rushed outdoors and saw that a skunk had bitten him on the cheek and was, in fact, still holding on for dear life. "My dogs are like children to me," says Laura, "so I kicked the skunk with all the strength I could muster. He let go, then turned his back on the three of us. I was scared it was rabid and would attack us, so I took the dogs inside, both of them stinking to high heaven. The vet suggested that douche would be the best way to get the smell out, so I found myself at the grocery store in the middle of the night, smelling terrible, with my arms full of ten boxes of Summer's Eve." Wouldn't we all like to know what was running through that clerk's mind?
Debbie Senseny (the Skyline Red Hats, Wilmington, Delaware) and her ex-husband entered a fishing tournament on Lake Martin in Alexander City, Alabama. "It was at 6:00 A.M. on a Saturday morning, and we were getting ready to put the boat in the lake, when I felt something crawling down my leg. I started screaming and taking off my blue jeans. All the people who had already put their boats in the lake came running to see what was happening." As she lay on the ground in her panties, a good-size crowd gathered around her just in time to see something roll out of her jeans-a cigarette lighter, which had apparently slid through a hole in her jeans pocket.
"Sure I'm for helping the elderly. I'm going to be old myself someday." -Lillian Carter (in her eighties at the time)
Nedra Ellis of the Scarlet O'Hatters in Amarillo, Texas, shared with us what may have been her very first senior moment. During a frustrating shopping trip, Nedra was returning to her dressing room when she saw a woman to her left about to head in her direction. She stopped to let the other woman pass; the other woman waited politely, as well. "We both stood still for several seconds, waiting for someone to make the first move. I decided to continue on my way, but out of the corner of my eye, I saw that she had moved, too. We both jumped back. I was thinking, Lady, if you would just get out of my way, I could get this dressing room ordeal over with. However, what I said aloud was, 'I am so sorry. Please go ahead.' Dead silence. She just stood there. Because, as I realized slowly, that was a mirror and she was my reflection." What do you want to bet Nedra didn't know whether to laugh or to cry?
There's nothing like being totally embarrassed in the comfort of your own home. When Joan Auletta, queen of the Red Hatted Sweet Potatoes in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, lived on Long Island, her whole family was out in the backyard with her husband while she did some cleaning up indoors. Joan was down in the basement, finishing up the last wash of the day, and she pulled off the robe she was wearing (over her birthday suit) and tossed it into the machine. As she hurried upstairs to dress, she saw her son's football helmet on the stairs, waiting to be taken up to his room, so, rather than carry it, she plopped it on her head. As she rounded the newel post on the way to the next flight of stairs, thinking that she was totally alone in the house, she encountered the meter man. He had been let into the house by her husband. The poor guy certainly couldn't have guessed what his wife was (or wasn't) wearing. The meter man stood silently just inside the front door, his mouth hanging open. Says Joan, "I gulped and just walked right by him and up the stairs as if I had never seen him. Can you just imagine him going home and telling his wife about the crazy lady in the basement? My kids are all grown and they still love to tell of Mom's Naked Parade." In my opinion, it takes one brave woman to tell that one about herself!
Joelle Silva, "Design Wizard" of the Crimson Flashes in Antelope, California, tells of an experience she had in the maternity department of a store thirty years ago, when she was there to purchase a nursing bra. Although the tale is not one about herself, she did find it a bit embarrassing and extremely amusing. "In front of me in line," writes Joelle, "there was an adorable old lady who would have been a Red Hatter if we had been around then. She had a nightgown she wanted to purchase, and the clerk said, 'Are you aware that this is a nightgown for nursing mothers?' The lady seemed surprised, and the clerk continued, 'That's why there are these slits in the front under the pleats.' And without batting an eyelash, the little old lady said, 'Oh, I thought those were for papa.'"
DON'T MESS WITH THE LADIES IN RED!
An older lady wearing a beautiful red hat gets pulled over for speeding....
Lady in Red Hat: Is there a problem, Officer?
Officer: Ma'am, you were speeding.
Lady: Oh, I see.
Officer: Can I see your license, please?
Lady: I'd give it to you, but I don't have it.
Officer: You don't have one?
Lady: Lost it four years ago for drunk driving.
Officer: I see.... Can I see your vehicle-registration papers, please?
Lady: I can't do that.
Officer: Why not?
Lady: I stole this car.
Officer: Stole it?
Lady: Yes, and I killed and hacked up the owner.
Officer: You what?
Lady: His body parts are in plastic bags, if you want to see.
The officer looks at the woman and slowly backs away to his car and calls for backup.
Excerpted from The Red Hat Society's Laugh Lines by Sue Ellen Cooper Copyright © 2005 by The Red Hat Society, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Meet the Author
The Red Hat Society® has as its origin a signature gift given by SUE ELLEN COOPER to friends to help celebrate the big five-oh. It has evolved into a national organization with over 29,000 chapters and an estimated membership of over one million women. She lives in Fullerton, California.
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