Tuesday, June 24, 2014


The Songwriter often complains that I walk too fast.  I suppose he’s right, I do tend to bob and weave through crowds like a racehorse on a Derby track -  but only through crowds.  I think I’m always subconsciously attempting to escape them, so I go faster and faster until I’m nothing more than a pale blur.   Otherwise, I’m decidedly a stroller.   But my stride was lengthening on a morning last week as I made my way through the overstuffed cosmetic department of Bloomingdales on a birthday present expedition.  I had just spotted daylight and was heading for the door when my speed was slowed  by a lady offering a sadly unwanted perfume sample of Acqua di Parma.   Reed thin and bejeweled, she was a woman of an indeterminate age with lips an impossible red and a French accent as thick as bouillabaisse.   I smiled as I passed, gently refusing her gift of a heady spritz and that’s when I heard it:  “Oh, my dear!" she exclaimed.  "You are zo cute!”

Cute?  Cute!  I almost stopped cold, grabbed her by her St. John lapels and demanded she elaborate.  Cute?  One might be grateful for a compliment of “cute” when one is a toddler. One might even welcome it as far up as sixteen. But to be called “cute” at this stage of the game was downright unsettling.  I indulged in a sideways glance at the mirrored wall alongside me.  Black and white espadrilles, wide-legged white linen trousers, long black linen shirt, one lone strand of pearls, big white vintage earrings, hair up.  I had been going for “unstudied elegance” and all I got was “cute”.  In a French accent, no less.

“Cute”, in my definition, is a word dangerously akin to “twee”, an adjective that calls to mind lace doilies, grosgrain ribbon, and kittens.  But apparently, “twee” has become a thing now. Who knew?  There is an entire movement of “twee” happening at the moment; a possible reaction against the “hipsters”, those aficionados of white belts, mismatched plaids and the razor-thin moustache.   It’s rather disconcerting to read a list of things considered to be  twee as quite a few of them veer too closely to my own tastes.

Let’s see now, according to the Chicago Tribune, cats are twee.  (Edward gallantly guarantees I’m safe there.)  So are cupcakes, mittens and scarves.  (As a knitter, those last two are worrisome.  Come to think of it, knitting is probably as twee as it gets.  This is not looking good.)  The state of Connecticut is twee. (What?  The entire state?)  Also, Wes Anderson movies, indie rock, and Paul Simon.  (Uh oh... I adored Wes Anderson’s, Moonrise Kingdom, which is supposedly the twee-est movie out there.)   Otters are twee, bless them.  (Photo above.)  Happily though, after mentally perusing my other favourites, I came up with a highly un-twee list.  Virginia and Vita, Leonard Cohen, Glencoe?   Certainly not twee.  Saint-Saens, Seamus Heaney, Great-Horned Owls?  Hardly.  By the time I got to Alexander MacQueen and Isabella Blow I was feeling much better. So thankfully, it seems in totality my tastes are not quite twee enough to demand my automatic inclusion in that camp.  

Having always shunned categories of any kind, I am naturally reluctant to label myself as either twee or un-twee.  I have to admit, the French perfume lady did cause a momentary wrinkle in an otherwise smooth morning despite the fact that I quickly decided her use of the word “cute” was undoubtedly due to the unfortunate paucity of her American vocabulary. Nevertheless, in response, I did what any normal woman would do.  I bought I pair of shoes.  Black with gold flowers.  Very Elizabethan.  Very elegant.  In no way twee.  In absolutely no way “cute”.   

I wonder.... how would you react to being called “cute”?
Would you happily embrace “twee”?


  1. Cute - delightfully pretty and dainty, that's probably what she meant and not, cute - obviously contrived to charm.

    Jean x

  2. Pamela, we must be up the same twee. I posted about it this past week. Definitely the movement of the moment. I would be tickled to be called Twee and/or cute as I usually look like a rag picker on the farm. Truth be known, I too have many similarities with the Twees. Just don't call me baby at my age. That is what will elicit an untwee look from me.

  3. Reading through what you were wearing at the time Pamela, the only words I can think of to describe what you must have looked like are 'chic' and 'elegant'. And I am sure that Edward would agree (and the Songwriter too).

  4. Perhaps in her mind she meant something else but it matters not for she sounds like a kind soul. I would be flattered, even at my age, having someone that I didn't even know say a kind word to me. Cute? I'll take it...and thank you for being so sweet. And then smile the rest of the day. :)

  5. Replies
    1. Gosh, I sincerely hope you realize I was making fun of myself! xo

  6. I file this along with the preponderance of those who refer to me as "Miss Thea".
    Have always wondered, why I would warrant a "Miss", when others older and more distinguished around me did not. I question if I am absurdly prissy, or if I look exceptionally old?

    Cute's not the first word that comes to mind for you, my dear friend, but perhaps English not being her first language, she meant to say...breezy, stylish, compelling.... une femme d'une quel'que chose certaine.


  7. Pamela, I reserve the word "cute" for someone young and pretty! I think that's what she meant. And these days, I'll take cute in a heartbeat! Thanks for alerting me to your new post...........always a favorite read! Angela Muller

  8. As a romantic Anglophile, I think my tastes are very high on the twee scale, but don't go as far as a Kinkade painting. And I absolutely adore otters. As I'm not nearly as elegant as you, at my age I'd be flattered if a French woman called me cute, since the comment directed at you seemed to be approbatory and not snide.

  9. I don't think twee has ever been in the Southern vocabulary of the folks in my social circle, but at my age, I think a lot of women are pleased they are noticed at all. From some of the other comments, that seems to be felt by many women. Although I haven't read it yet, in Diane Keaton's new book it seems she has made a comment whereby "she's glad that she's finally reached the age where she doesn't feel like she has to dress to attract a man," or at least something along that line. I think as long as we dress to please ourselves, we'll do fine.

  10. EDward is VERY cute with your new purchase!
    You are Glamorous I am certain...........NOT CUTE.

  11. Not for myself at 50, no, definitely not. :). I reserve 'cute' for puppies, kittens, and as you've pictured here, baby otters. And maybe five year old girls in Mary Janes and ribbons. Dare I say your new shoes are fabulous.. elegant, not the least iota cute. And Edward is elegant as always, also. Dare I say he is even a bit cute. But I mean that in the best way possible...

  12. so what ever happened to stunning? The beavers are so twee, untill they drop a tree.

  13. Since I am so puny at 5 feet, I am very conscious of any verbal or physical expression that seems more about my size than who I am. Nonetheless, if it seemed someone was genuinely giving me a compliment, I would accept cute, even at my 60 years. While words are important, sometimes people do not express themselves very well. Your experience with a native French speaker may be an example. Seeing Edward along side your new shoes is a reminder of his maturity. I still miss my black velvet mules - a bargain from Nordstrom Rack 20ish years ago when the Rack had fabulous shoes - that were chewed beyond salvage by my young Golden.

  14. Don't worry, cute isn't the word that I'd use to describe you. The mad dash is the only way to get through Bloomingdales. Avoid all eye contact and practice your soccer moves to get around the perfume ladies. You scored a goal with those shoes. Dare I call them cute?

  15. Still laughing…and you know how I feel about this one… (tres chic) xx

  16. I find "cute" an adorable compliment.

  17. Oh, my goodness! I always knew we were kindred spirits! Yet more proof: I was taking in our annual arts festival celebration last weekend. The weather was hot and sunny, and I was in my usual summer attire of linen pants and shirt, sun hat, and sun gloves (yes, I wear sun gloves to protect my hands). I stopped in one gallery and was visiting with an artist when her friend came over, looked me up and down, and exclaimed how "cute" I looked! Having just read your post, I nearly burst out laughing! Deja vu! As a woman "of a certain age," lonnngg past being described as "cute," or so I thought, I quickly decided it was a compliment and left smiling!


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!