Happy fiftieth! It’s your cincuentañera!
Welcome to the Sisterhood of the Disappearing Crones.
Women over fifty control the world. Surprised? We are our own best-kept secret. We do what we want and we are, literally, everywhere. This Starbucks is way more crowded than you thought. So mum’s the word! (Your own mum never breathed a word about this, did she?)
She’s here, too. And your Aunt Paula. And Hilary, and Michelle, and Ms. Middleton, your gym teacher from sixth grade. We are legion. There are binders full of us! Just keep it on the down-low.
What’s your pleasure? Pumpkin latte? Have a venti, on us, extra syrup, double soy. Did we mention we own the majority stake in this company? That Schultz guy’s really a barista from Fresno. He looks the part, right?
It may come as a shock, given the first 49 years of your life, but The Sisterhood controls the stock market. We tamper the ballots—yes, that’s us! We cut the brake lines; we topple the buildings and the governments; we rescue the kittens from the bottoms of wells.
Each one of us received a fiftieth birthday cloak, just like you. We use our cloaks for mischief, for righteousness, for evil, for random acts of —whatever! It’s all good, even “bad.” No judgement among Sisters! Well, some of us do get a little judgy. Can’t help ourselves. Sometimes our agendas are at loggerheads, and our meetings can be more fractious than parliament. For example, until Liz over here put a stop to her nonsense, Sarah Palin really thought she’d succeed with her little plot to annex Greenland.)
Let’s take your new poncho for a spin, why don’t we?
See that man-bun behind the counter, the one who gazed straight past you as he served your latte to the sweet young thing on your right? Go on, knock it out of his hand.
Oops—tee-hee! Such a shame, nutmeg froth all over those Lululemon leggings. Pink is problematic with coffee stains, and her without her Tide pen. (Don’t worry, your purse, with your Tide pen in the zipper pocket, is completely invisible beneath the cloak.) Watch him sputter and apologize as she flounces out the door.
But, oh, it gets better, much better. Talked over in meetings? Passed over for promotion? Is that guy strutting down the middle of the sidewalk forcing you onto the curb? Sister, you can take your revenge, and then some.
How did you think Mitch McConnell broke his shoulder last month? “Tripping on his outdoor patio at his Louisville home?” Please. That was me. (Shameless self-promotion!) Just wait till you see what I have in store for him next.
We know, we know. It flies against the conventional narrative, but we do that on purpose. Who could guess that, ever since Eve donned the world’s first pair of snakeskin boots, we Sisters have been running the show. What really happened to Jimmy Hoffa? And Jacqueline the Ripper? Ask a Sister. Why did France lose the Hundred Years’ War? Joan wasn’t really burned to death at the stake, but she was hopping mad, after all she’d done for those guys.
And Jeffery Epstein? For that last one, you might want a word with Ghislaine—she’s in the corner over there by an “unattended laptop.” If you look closer you can see the keys clicking. Pro-tip: for hands-on work, a Sister always wears gloves. Because “invisible” doesn’t mean “no fingerprints.” Speaking of which: your replacement latte’s at the pick-up counter. The cup says “Matt,” but help yourself.
There is so much more to invisibility than stabbings, strangulations, and petty theft. Invisibility is an introvert’s dream. Your light stays under a proverbial bushel, and that bushel is a cloak! You can really get creative. Like the Sister who slipped a little carcinogenic petrochemical in David Koch’s après ballet cocoa once a week at Lincoln Center? Brilliant.
Of course, not every Sister is an introvert. The occasional extrovert chooses to work in the open, but even so, her cloak has its uses! For example, Ruth Bader Ginzburg only wears hers to to Sloan Kettering. Brava, Ruth! You be you!
As you begin this new chapter in your life, try to hold in mind the examples of invisible women who’ve gone before you, creating disasters like the Hindenburg and delights like the complete works of Shakespeare, Vermeer, and Mozart. But also look towards your younger Sisters, your mentees, whose fiftieth birthday celebrations you’ll be attending for years to come. Like Melania, 49-and-a-half, whose fun has been a long, long time coming.
We’ll be there for her, too! We can hardly wait. Now, have a cake pop.