The banquet room at the Garden City Marriot sounded like a henhouse in an uproar: babbling pierced with shrill laughter and an occasional steamboat whistle scream. It was the Maple County Red Hat Society’s annual dinner Their hilarity reached it’s peak at the coronation ceremony and continued in high gear through the meal of utterly forgettable banquet fare. The wait staff did not enjoy the Red Hatters, they were silly, loud and grabby. Thankfully they were also brisk eaters and always cleared out well before before nine o’clock.
Table Eleven was the exception to the gaity. Wedged between the kitchen door and the back exit, it was populated with glum, overweight women slumped before their dinner plates. Each woman found herself banished to Table Eleven after getting turned away from their own Red Hatters.
“Well this stinks!” announced Wilma from the West Side chapter, “we’re the Red Hat losers!”
The occupants of Table Eleven looked up at each other nervously. Would there be further ousting from the outcasts table? They quickly busied themselved with their napkins, feather boas or the fluff on their red hats in order appear occupied and not obviously wating for a point-blank insult.
“What? Isn’t this fun?” ventured Bettie. She kept hoping her chapter from the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Hope would call for her to join their merrymaking instead of glancing over at her, whispering then bursting out into shrill giggles..
“Oh give me a break, Wilma’s right!” said Nancy tossing her head at the Oakwood Apartment Red Hatters busily screeching as an enormous woman in a sequinned purple tent chased after a fleeing waiter.
“This is the loser table,” Wilma continued, “we’re all either designated drivers or someone let the cat out of the bag about this soiree and we showed up, right?”
No one at Table Eleven wanted to answer. They studied their dinner plates or continued their figeting. After a moment’s silence, two dejectedly removed their decorated red hats and tossed them to the middle of the table.
“Let me ask you gals,” posed Wilma, “who here has a nickname? Anyone rate high enough for that honor?” No one answered, they just managed to look more glum and slump a little lower.
“Let’s quit them and start our own group!” suddenly piped up Dorothea from Pine Grove.
Table Eleven perked up a bit at the suggestion. Quit the Red Hats? Start a group that actually wanted their involvement without requiring them to drive, count, collect, call?
“Hey! Let’s be the opposite of Red Hats. We’ll be No Hats!” cried Nonie from Elm Towers Assisted Living with such an unfortunate home perm that a hat was truly a blessing.
“No, maybe we should be the Blue Biddies,” cautiously offered Marilyn from Central Towers, still not quite certain the group wouldn’t turn on her suggestion.
“Blue Biddies! I like it! We’ll wear all blue and no hats!” said Alice of the Glamor Gals.
“No gowns, ruffles or feathers!” added Dorothea who’s ample figure strained every seam of her purple gown.
“Here’s what we’ll do,” said Wilma leaning in conspiratorially, prompting the others to glance at their Red Hat chapters before leaning in. “We’ll show up at to every Red Hat shindig in BLUE and be just as obnoxious as they are.”
“Let’s show up BEFORE they do and take over!” squealed Bettie relishing the novely of group inclusion for the first time in her life.
Suddenly Table Eleven was having fun, cackling away, plotting the inauguaral Blue Biddies shake up of the Red Hatters luncheon tour at Mrs. Hooper’s Fudgatorium. The evening ended on an early high note for all.
Leaving the Red Hats to be part of the newly formed Blue Biddies was a friendship lifeline for every Red Hat outcast. Each Blue Biddy knew she was barely tolerated or filled an essential role that kept her a Red Hat. The first meeting of the Blue Biddies took place the morning after the banquet and a great deal was accomplished. Talk flowed freely as each woman relaxed and basked in their new found friendships.
The Blue Biddies established themselves as a social group of women of a certain age who enjoyed friendly outings in comfortable blue attire. That was it, plain and simple. But within each Blue Biddy heart beat the unspoken rule: crash and disrupt every Red Hat gathering they possibly could.
And crash they did. According to plan, the luncheon tour at Mrs. Hooper’s Fudgatorium started fifteen minutes early when the van of Blue Biddies disgorged a troop of middle-aged, overweight blue sweatsuited women who cheerfully claimed the Red Hat reservation under Alice’s name. When the Red Hats showed up, all they got was a thousand begged pardons for the mix-up. Nothing could be done about the thirty minute wait for individual tables and even more unfortunate, the “Tastey Trolley Tour” though the fudge park was booked solid through the afternoon. The very first Blue Biddies outing was a complete success!
The Blue Biddies inside knowledge of the area Red Hat functions resulted in a Blue Biddy invasion and further comandeering of Red Hat gatherings throughout the Maple County. They gleefully thrived on the wails of disappointed Red Hats when a derailed outing was realized. The Red Hatters had little in the way of retalliation, most of the Blue Biddies were their Red Hat chapter social organizers.
After the third Blue Biddy coupe in one week, the county Queen called for an armistice with the regional and chapter Queens and all members of the Blue Biddies at a declared neutral zone, the Coffee Talk cafe at the declared neutral time, ten in the morning. The county Queen showed up on time with her regional and chapter Queens in attendance in full Red Hat regalia. The Blue Biddies arrived twenty minutes early looking like an odd squad of overweight, overaged police academy hopefuls.
“We accept that you’ve started a new group,” stated Queen Snooks once she and her attendants settled, adjusted hat angles, patted down feather boas and hiked up dresses for comfortable sitting, “obviously none of you were true Red Hatters.”
She paused imperiously while looking down her nose at the Blue Biddies and then lengthened the pause for good effect.
“We ask that you stop interfering with OUR good time.”
This statement prompted nodding and clucking from her retinue as they sipped sweetened coffee from paper cups while managing to crook their pinkies.
“Oh, are we interfering? No one cared what we did when we were Red Hats!” said Wilma.
“We are trying to work out a pleasant agreement,” said Queen Peaches of the Sassy Sisters chapter, glaring over her coffee, looking anything but pleasant.
The sharp comment prompted more nodding, clucking and crooking of pinkies from the Queens while the Blue Biddies hunkered down and stuck out their elbows.
“I think you’ll all agree we live in an area that offers a variety of activities for a variety of social groups,” resumed Queen Snooks in her imperial manner. “We can all certainly enjoy our gatherings without spoiling another’s good time and…”
“You should have thought of that before you treated us like Red Hat dirt!” cut in Nonie.
The Queens gaped at that comment. The Blue Biddies narrowed their eyes and strengthened their reserved. Years of resentment had been building behind Nonie’s remark and giving it life strengthened the Blue Biddies. The Queens of the Red Hats felt their power, truly felt what they were up against. They looked at each other, seeking greater strength and unity in their feathered, red hatted sisterhood but came up short.
“We think you’re awful! You’re all…you’re just,…you’re ruining our fun! You want the truth? You should call yourselves….the…Blue… Meanies!” cried Queen Tootsie of Our Lady of Perpetual Hope, nearly in tears.
The Blue Biddies sat quietly, looking at one and other. The Queens also sat quietly, hoping Queen Tootsie made an impression. Unfortunately, she hadn’t. Each Blue Biddie was wondering if it was too late to change the group name.
By Sweetman, 2010
Dedicated to my son Charlie who gave me this great idea.
Thank you Charlie, Love from Mom