Our 12th most-read article of 2023.

- - -

Originally published February 16, 2023.

- - -

You’ve been on the lookout for a cardigan in a color that’s less edgy than “fawn” or “heather oatmeal.”

You recently traded your favorite slingbacks for a pair of Dansko clogs recommended by your podiatrist.

You have a podiatrist.

Invisibility seemed like a really cool superpower when you were a child; now, it’s your reality.

Neighborhood cats have been following you home.

You have two pairs of eyeglasses: a regular pair and a “fun” pair.

In the grocery store, a trio of women in cashmere twinsets murmurs, “Her wizening is nigh,” when you pass them in the probiotics aisle.

Your favorite necklace is made from large vintage buttons, beaded flowers, and repurposed copper pipes. It really pops with a cowl-neck sweater.

One day, an unmarked box appears outside your door. Inside is a Lands End catalog, a pair of Active Chinos in an enticingly khaki hue, and a note that reads PREPARE FOR THE RITUAL.

You notice that the catalog has a discount code, so you add it to your towering “junk mail I may need later” pile.

The pile is next to your favorite candle, which smells like coffee and old books.

You have a favorite candle.

One wild night, you throw caution to the winds and sip a second glass of rosé while watching three consecutive episodes of The Durrells in Corfu on PBS.

Your doorbell rings. You open it to find three women with jawline-flattering bobs and fun eyeglasses.

One of them hands you a copy of Eat, Pray, Love and a Costco-sized bag of SkinnyPop. “We’re inviting you to our book club,” she says.

You let them in. Thunder rumbles in the distance. “Those chinos are so comfy,” says another, pointing at your pants. “I have a code to buy one, get one half off, if you’re interested.”

You are definitely interested.

You feel compelled to light your favorite candle. The women rhythmically chant the lyrics to “Girls Just Want to Have Fun.” You wonder how old Cyndi Lauper is now.1

You suddenly feel a pervasive sense of mild annoyance at all humankind and an insatiable longing for a pair of capris embroidered with tiny martinis.

“Is Chico’s still open?” you ask, and the women all nod solemnly.

“The Ritual is complete, and Chico’s is never closed,” they intone in unison.

You find a discount code in your junk mail pile.

Once The Shopping is done, the four of you gather around a bistro table at a bakery café, clad in a glorious taupe-y rainbow of Sahara Sand, Toasted Wheat, Buff Camel, and Smoked Caramel.

After forty-five minutes, a young waiter asks, “Have you girls been helped? I didn’t see you there!”

You cackle in unison and disappear in a poof of burnt sienna smoke. You leave behind four fun pairs of eyeglasses and all of your statement necklaces.

The sacrifice is transient; you have a coupon for 20 percent off accessories at Brighton.

The waiter fails to notice that you’re gone.

- - -

1 As of this writing, Cyndi Lauper is sixty-nine years old. (I know. I’m sorry.)