I'm Old Enough to Wear Purple

…But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

It’s been my dream for a really long time. Ever since a high school English class where we studied the poem Warning by Jenny Joseph. I wanted to wait until my hair turned grey, but I apparently inherited my father’s genes (he didn’t start greying until his 60s), and I got tired of waiting.  I don’t want to wear purple clothes, but playing with hair color is a treat. When I work, the purple ends dance across my shoulders, and it brings me much joy.

by Jenny Joseph

With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me.
And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves
And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter.
I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired
And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells
And run my stick along the public railings
And make up for the sobriety of my youth.
I shall go out in my slippers in the rain
And pick the flowers in other people’s gardens
And learn to spit

You can wear terrible shirts and grow more fat
And eat three pounds of sausages at a go
Or only bread and pickle for a week
And hoard pens and pencils and beermats and things in boxes

But now we must have clothes that keep us dry
And pay our rent and not swear in the street
And set a good example for the children.
We must have friends to dinner and read the papers.

But maybe I ought to practice a little now?
So people who know me are not too shocked and surprised
When suddenly I am old, and start to wear purple.

Taken from the book
When I Am An Old Woman I Shall Wear Purple
Edited by Sandra Martz
Papier Mache Press–Watsonville, California 1987

10 responses to “I'm Old Enough to Wear Purple”

  1. That’s such a lovely poem and such a lovely hair colour! I’ve always wanted to do purple tips on my auburn hair as well but when I was younger my mom said: you’ll ruin your hair with hair dye. When I was in college everyone said: who will want to marry a girl with purple hair? ( I come from a culture where arranged marriages are the norm). Now that I’m married, everyone says: that’s teenage stuff, you’re too old for that now!
    I wonder where that golden period was when I could have done it and how I missed it..

    • Thank you. I bet auburn and purple will be beautiful. If you ever decide to play, even with a temporary dye, post a picture. I would love to see it. I am quite fortunate in that my husband encourages me to chase my whims. He took the pics. His philosophy is that it’s not about age, it’s about attitude. I really appreciate that.

      • Sounds like a great relationship 🙂 My husband won’t mind if I play with hair colour but I think my in laws will, and with an arranged marriage you have to care about what in laws think :p

  2. I have that book, and I remember that poem. I’m 50 now, and a recent cancer survivor. I, um. Well, I think this poem expresses what I’ve started doing.

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