The wedding is in three days and I can’t think of anything else. My son is marrying his significant other on Friday and, once again, I am the Mother of the Groom. They are marrying at their home in California, in the late afternoon, by the pool. Cocktail attire has been requested.
My son just turned fifty-one. That makes me not fifty-three, or whatever the average age of the M of the G usually is. The bride is in her thirties, as most of their guests will probably be. Since I have been retired from my day job for longer than most of these people have worked, my fashion sense, as well as my wardrobe, tends to revolve around a pair of good black pants and a variety of black or grey sweaters. Is it okay for the MOG to wear black to her son’s second wedding? Does it send a less than hopeful message?
At this moment in my life, I have four sons, four former daughters-in-law, one former son-in-law and numerous former significant others. Maybe black is the right color, considering the wear and tear on my heart with each separation, divorce and the subsequent vitriol from the women who were up to then really like daughters to me. Mothers of sons tend to yearn for daughters and to attach to their sons’ wives more than is probably healthy. As a matter of fact, most of my former DIL’s reminded me of myself at their ages – smart, funny and pretty, if I may say so, and I loved them all. The major difference was a generational one: these women knew they did not need a man to survive. Each one was educated and talented and not afraid to put her foot down and demand equality with her husband. They wanted cooking, cleaning, and fidelity from them. They got help with the cooking and cleaning but the men in my family have a hard time with fidelity and thus are all single again. Unlike me, their new young wives took no nonsense on that score.
So as an only child, with no living female relatives, and only my husband’s well-meaning but unhip cousin with whom to confer, I wondered what on earth to wear to this wedding. Six weeks before the day, I sat at my computer, looking at dresses online. I actually do own a few possible choices, but they’re all of the Travel Smith variety — black, or black and white, in artfully draped, wrinkle-free fabrics. They’re all outdated. I put the word out to younger friends that there is a wedding in my near future, and they did some legwork, looking around town for an age-appropriate wedding outfit for me.
I looked at shoes online. I love shoes, but a broken ankle a year ago has kept me from wearing high heels. Since I now work in my pajamas and slippers, there has been no need. Now, there is a need. I looked at the Neiman Marcus website. Have you seen those God-awful two-inch platforms and six-inch stiletto heels? Who in the hell can walk in those without an attendant on each arm? I have never seen such misogyny! I got so depressed looking at Manolos that I could neither wear nor afford that I had a warm milk and went to bed. Fortunately, I was still in my pajamas
When I got to dresses, everything I looked at fell ten to twelve inches above the knee. I am short. I do not have that much room above my knee without bumping into parts that should not show. Fortunately, since I am close to the ground, any dress off the rack is going to be at least knee length on me, anyway. A pal tipped me off that I can get some good ideas at Nordstrom.com, so I went right there. In fact, after looking at hundreds of ideas on Nordstrom’s website, I saw only one good one. I thought about it, said, “I like it,” and ordered it. Nordstrom has a liberal return policy.
The dress was dark grey lace, lined, a simple shift, with elbow length sleeves and a boat neckline. It arrived in three days. It hit my knees, as predicted. It was simple and beautiful. I was cheered.
Meanwhile, waiting for it to arrive, just in case the dress was awful, I went to every dress shop within twenty miles, looking for alternatives. I fell for a beautiful ribbon striped black and white jacket. It was a little too tight. At the store, I knew it was too tight but allowed myself to be talked into it by the fawning sales person and it will go back. At the same store, I grabbed black silk pants and a matching tank and tunic and a black and white zebra – striped shirt that made me look like — a zebra. At a chic boutique, I bought a gauzy jacket with a Queen Anne collar and belled sleeves. The obvious Queen Anne connection with my name and demeanor notwithstanding, this, too, will go back. The black stuff still looks good, so I’ll keep that. At my age, there are always funerals.
So, it looked like the grey dress, and now the shoe question had to be answered. Back to Nordstrom.com. Of course, I wanted red soles but they cost $600 a sole plus tax and I would only wear them once and hooray, Nordstrom doesn’t carry Louboutin. I wanted glitz but settled for dark grey satin pumps with bows and three-inch heels, which are too high, but if I sit a lot, they’ll be fine. I ordered. They came. With stockings, they fell off my feet. I was aware of the current prejudice against stockings and considered leg makeup or a tanning salon. However, my legs are as old as I am and have the lumps and bumps to prove it. Tanning would not do it for them and I would have to spray – paint them tan to get away with bare legs. Not an option. There will be stockings.
Not realizing that online stock changes every three minutes, I ordered a smaller size in the same sedate shoe; then, browsing saw the shiniest, most beautiful shoes I had ever seen. They were pleated light gray silk slingbacks, with a two-inch heel and rhinestones the size of cherries on the vamp. Perfect! I ordered them, too. The pile of potential wedding garb was spilling out of my bedroom into the hallway. I hoped Nordstrom’s return policy was as generous as they claimed it was. I began to wonder if the bride was spending as much time and effort on this as I was.
I haven’t had a chance to get to know her as well as I have my other brides-to-be. Certainly, I am cautious about nurturing another relationship which may or may not end up with me being tossed away along with my offending offspring. I clearly remember this guy’s first marriage, twenty years ago, to a woman I am still really fond of and with whom I keep in touch, on a professional as well as a personal basis. There is a grandson. That wedding took place in a Greek church in Ithaca, New York, and involved flower crowns, incense, and three trips around the altar. It was more ceremony than I had ever seen at any wedding, not at Westminster Abbey. It appeared that nothing could break that union, but something did.
I remember that I tried on a gorgeous gray dress for that occasion, too, but couldn’t wear it because the color was wrong for me then, so I wore blue. Now, gray is good and I take that as a good sign for the marriage, too. I’m big on good signs. As I thought about that, the phone rang. It was the bride, bubbling over with news and details of her dress, the food, the music, the minister, the candles, and flowers. Since she was in California and I was in New York, I had not been privy to most of the planning. Suddenly, I was. She hung up after telling me how much she loves my son and that she loves me, too. I got teary, naturally, and realized I still really want a daughter. The gray dress would work.
The new shoes arrived. As I was trying them on, another son came by and took a picture of them with his iPhone to send to his girlfriend. Wow, I thought, success! The plain ones are going back. They are the only things going back to Nordstrom, lucky Nordstrom’s.
I could do another five hundred words on underwear, but you don’t care about that. Suffice it to say that I went someplace where I could be fitted and the end result smooths out the look considerably. The saleslady also sold me some little red things that make me feel closer in age to the bride than to my contemporaries. I’m wearing them now but only I know that. And you.
My plane ticket, a car rental confirmation, and the hotel reservation are safely packed away in the new silver carry-on that came yesterday. I’m off-line and don’t need another thing. I’m ready. I’m excited. And I’m gonna look terrific.