Monday, December 14, 2009

Gangs of Tampa

I was driving through the campus of the University of Tampa and I saw these ladies in purple dresses and red hats having tea on the veranda at Plant Hall, which is the centerpiece of the picturesque UT campus. Of course I recognized them as members of the Red Hat Society, a social organization for ladies over 50. As I watched them it occurred to me that they are not unlike a gang in many ways. Specifically, the way they wear distinctive colors when they gather in public. As I was sitting there thinking of other examples, a plate glass window shattered and one of the Red Hat ladies came tumbling through it. All the other ladies cheered and raised what I had thought were tea cups but were actually huge tankards of ale. A tweedy little man in a blazer wearing glasses and a bow tie came out and started yelling at them. "Ladies! Ladies!", he said. "Such untoward activity and coarse manners are frowned upon at Plant Hall!" One of the ladies grabbed him and said "I'll plant something in your hall, sugar cheeks" and sat him roughly on her lap. "Madame, please!", he protested as he attempted in vain to squirm free. "Haw haw! Hey Loretta, show him your tattoo", one of the other Red Hats yelled. Another chimed in, "He's probably seen it already. After all, who hasn't? Haw haw!" The one they called Loretta smashed a beer bottle over that one's head, but it didn't have much effect with most of the impact blunted by the floppy red hat. Suddenly a motorcycle roared up the steps and screeched to a halt. The rider, clad in a purple leather jacket stood up and removed her red helmet. "Let him go", she hissed. Loretta released the man and said, "Aw Susan, we were just havin' a little fun". Susan glared back and Loretta slumped down in her wicker chair. "You okay, dumplin'?", Susan asked the man. "Y-yes I think so. Thank you", he replied. "Well, you better run along. I calmed them down this time but I don't know how long they'll stay that way", she said. He turned to the group, sobbed "Animals!" and ran back inside, his hands covering his tear-streaked face. The group laughed but then caught themselves and looked at Susan who began to chuckle as well. Before long the air was filled with uproarious laughter, punctuated by the sounds of beer bottles shattering which lasted long into the UT night.

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