Huzzahs for the Hags

June 24, 2010 at 3:10 pm Leave a comment

In retrospect, the line seems so insignificant:  “…about this book; its genesis was a luncheon with several good friends…” 

My mother, Peg Bracken, was talking about the I Hate to Cook Book, of course.  Yet, far from a casual notion, this get-together was one in a long series of meetings of a group called The Hags—witty, some would say saucy professional woman drawn mainly from the advertising world.  (Mom was a marketing copywriter before seeing fame with the IHTCB.)

The Hags were a kind of Algonquin Round Table gone west, convening regularly in various Portland, Oregon restaurants to kibbutz, regale each other with often bawdy jokes and stories, and bemoan workaday drudgery.  Yes, lunch was the order of the day.  But cocktails not Cobb salad typically fueled the conversations.

Although they were careful not to take themselves too seriously, a Hag Flag bearing member names was eventually unfurled.  And a secret tongue-in-cheek Hag Credo was even passed, achieving new heights of hilarity even for these raucous raconteurs.

Yet the remarkable thing about the Hags was not their audacity but longevity.  The group began in the late forties, and continued even as founding members grew old and passed away.  Daughters became Junior Hags.  (I was one.)   Husbands were unwitting and uninvited Hag Stags. 

With my mother’s death, all the original Hags are gone now.  Still, the group carries on with a rich half-century tradition.  It just goes to show you the beauty of friendship.  That and the medicinal powers of laughter—okay, perhaps a double martini too.

Given the economic might of today’s women, I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw one of the nouveau-Hags write the I Hate to Cook and Be the Main Breadwinner Book.

If any IHTCB fans know of or belong to similar informal social clubs, I’d love to hear from you.

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Marking the Days Heeding the Writing on the Wall

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