I think it is time for women of a certain age to claim their rights to the hoodie. Why should the hoodie be a piece of clothing for anti-social people to hide behind? We gray heads need it more.

The hoodie is practical and stylish. The hood can be pulled up loosely to soften lines in the face and, of course, cover any hair mistakes. The hood can rest on the shoulders and be fluffed up around the neck like a cowl collar, the most flattering of collars. If someone will take the initiative and design a few in better colors than black, navy or gray, we could buy them in colors to flatter our skin type.

I am cold-natured. Other people are complaining of the heat and I am luxuriating in the cozy warmth. My feet get cold, my hands get cold, my shoulders get cold, but the worst is that the back of my neck gets cold. This is why companions in historical novels always have to run upstairs and fetch a shawl for the intimidating noblewomen they work for. A hoodie covers the back of my neck better than a scarf or a shawl and keeps my body heat from escaping through the top of my head.

All of these truths were revealed to me in a revelatory moment at 35,000 feet — I was flying over the deep Atlantic Ocean, at least 10 miles above solid ground. There was no burst of sunlight, no voices, but there was a roar in my ears from airplane engines and I was trembling.

All the shades were drawn. Everyone (but me) was focused on hundreds of different (weird) movies which were flashing into my line of vision. I wasn’t watching my own movie because I didn’t bring my good headphones, because I don’t have any, and the airline buds are worse than useless. I read as long as I could hold the book in my shaking hands. I had blankets and pillows. I was tired enough for an afternoon nap, but despite my cover I was too cold to even doze.

I have been cold on flights before, but I have never been this cold. Luckily I had purchased a stretchy hoodie, sort of athletic looking, before I went to France. I bought it to wear on our ship as we cruised the Seine. I was thinking early morning mists and evening breezes. However, we happened to be in France during the worst heat wave in over 100 years, so the hoodie stayed in my suitcase. Before our flight home, I moved it to my carry-on just in case the plane was chilly.

The plane was arctic.

Finally, I grabbed my dark blue hoodie out of my carry-on and struggled into it. I pulled the hood up over my head and around the edges of my face. I tied the drawstring tight around my neck so that my face resembled a character from a “South Park” cartoon. I put my personal sleeping mask, large and thick, across my forehead for warmth and also just in case I could stop shivering long enough to fall asleep. I left my glasses on to read with. I struggled to get all parts of my body covered with blankets. I kept shifting my pillows from my neck/head area to my body for cover. I looked like an alien who had escaped from an interplanetary nursing home.

My friend of over 40 years, who was seated across the aisle from me, didn’t speak one word to me the entire flight. She pretended she didn’t know me, read and watched movies the whole way home. She was shivering too, but refrained from turning herself into a raggedy hobo, wrapping herself in a beautiful pashmina, instead.

Anyway, my hoodie saved my life. Finally, I stopped shaking long enough to drink a cup of coffee. And I began to think that the hoodie could earn a place in my old age wardrobe: muu muus, house dresses, tennis shoes and a hoodie.

The hoodies would be more contemporary than my collection of what my sister calls Granny Gooch sweaters. Her husband actually had a granny whose last name was Gooch, who wore sweaters 24 hours a day. (Don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. There is a reason some people sew themselves into their clothes in late November.)

Maybe if I am in an Atlanta coffee shop or deli, wearing a hoodie to cover my gray hair, I will become visible to the clerks and baristas. Maybe they won’t skip over me to call on the skinny blonde in stiletto heels.

My granddaughters and grandson hide in their school hoodies when they are sleepy and want to block out conversation. Some people wear them to rob banks, or ski the Alps. Mainly, I want comfort and convenience without totally giving up too many style points.

I’m waiting to find a soft pastel floral or a bright paisley. I have my credit card ready.

Cheryl Hilderbrand is a Jackson writer and educator. Email her at cmhild@bellsouth.net.

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