Wednesday, February 27, 2008

From fission-fusion societies to Cosmic Cowboys

By S. Derrickson Moore
Sun-News reporter
LAS CRUCES — One of my favorite lines from the late, great series, “The Gilmore Girls” came when Loreli Gilmore’s aunt cautioned her that you can’t leave WASPs (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) alone without anything to do for long, “or they’ll start forming clubs.”
Actually, the clubbing urge affects every ethnicity and group of like-minded souls on the planet, and has since the days of the cavemen and women, who probably formed the first clubs to compare clubs. Maybe that’s where the name came from, in fact.
New incarnations of clubs seem to be burgeoning these days. I spent a recent Sunday with more than 100 women in red hats and pajamas, judging a Red Hat Society (RHS) talent contest. I was amazed to find out how much the RHS has grown in the decade since its formation, and since I wrote about the first Las Cruces chapters a few years back. The RHS now has a million members worldwide, including 14 chapters with intriguing names in Las Cruces alone.
“Although we have a lot of silly fun, we know that we play a special part in bringing joy to many lives, and by association, to our own as well,” e-mailed Carolyn Martinez, Queen Mum of the Vivacious Viejas and a member of the Las Cruces Queens’ Council.
One member joked that the group is in quest of world domination. Another explained that good times are the real agenda for women of a certain age who have juggled children, careers and charitable work, and now feel it’s time for some seriously frivolous fun.
With its free-floating FUNventions and offers for anyone to start their own “dis-organization’s” without rules, dues or red tape, I think the Red Hat Society is another sign of new millennium trend toward different ways of gathering; supplementing, and maybe eventually even replacing, the entrenched institutions, secret societies and old boys’ clubs that have dominated the world for centuries.
I call it the fission-fusion society model, named for something I heard about when I lived in Florida in the 1990s. Dolphin researchers were studying the migratory habits of dolphins and discovered the sociable cetaceans had a kind of international club of their own. Every now and again, a few dolphins would break off from the local pod and head out to hang with another pod. There, they’d pick up a few dolphins in the mood to have some new adventures, maybe leave a couple of the visitors behind and set off for yet another adventure.
I observed the Red Hatters in their natural habitat, noting the Lavish Ladies of Las Cruces seem to feel fine about forming conga lines with the Red Hot Roadrunners from Silver City and the Meadowland Matriarchs of Rio Rancho. Many diverse groups happily joined for a can-can at the Hotel Encanto, before heading back to their home pods, maybe making plans to get together later with the Butte Beauts from Elephant Butte, the Hot Toddy Doo Dahs to El Paso, the Sombreros Colorado Scarlets of Alamogordo, or ... well, you get the idea.
There’s a lot of synchronicity involved in all this, whether you call your group a club, a fission-fusion society, a pod, or nothing at all. I was thinking about Jean McDonnell of Tularosa, who is involved with a truly international fission-fusion society with members in Tibet and India, when I ran into a new art gallery owner from Tularosa at one of my favorite pods in Mesilla. When I got back to the office, I found an e-mail from Las Cruces artist Debbie Levy, who told me she and her amigas Karen Currier, Brenda Parish and Nancy Bergman were planning “a fun adventure time” in — you guessed it — Tularosa. Their group has been christened the “Sisterhood of the Tallulah Rose” and they already have a clubhouse (actually a family cabin) and a motto: “What happens in Tulie stays in Tulie.”
I thought about all the ad-hoc clubs and societies I’ve been a part of in my life.
The Scorpio-Aquarian Birthday Club, with Ginger Ness and Carolyn Bunch, has met formally (i.e. with birthday candles) only twice in 14 years.
The Cosmic Cheerleaders spring up all over the planet, usually with a different cast each time, for secret missions as needed. It’s a co-ed group, but the guys usually won’t wear their T-shirts, so you may not know you’ve had a CC encounter. I don’t think the Millennium Blondes or Cosmic Cowgirls and Cowboys have ever had an official meeting, though artist Sallie Ritter and I address correspondence to each other with one or both club references and I believe we agree that we sense we have a discreet but dedicated membership throughout the world, and perhaps the universe.
Search your souls, Millennium Blondes and Cosmic Cowboys and Cowgirls: You know who you are.
S. Derrickson Moore can be reached at

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