I got to be a bridesmaid again just a few years ago. At the ripe old age of 39, plucked from my post of matronly mother to magically metamorphose into the role of sprightly ingenue.
The thing is, middle-aged, of which, alas, I’ve become a card-carrying member, just doesn’t seem to cut it in some roles. I mean, you reach a certain point in life and you start to look stupid wearing long hair, for example. Or bleaching it blonde, for that matter. And eventually, if you wear a mini-skirt or a bikini, you’re likely to be accused of trying to be your teen-aged daughter. This is kind of how I feel about mid-life bridesmaids. It just doesn’t work. You gotta know when to call it quits.
Nevertheless, that’s where I found myself. In the whirl of pre-matrimonial frenzy, negotiating dress sizes with the brutally dictatorial bridal shop employees, mean women who insist you are lying to them about your dress size, and insist you’re doomed to be wedged like a sausage into a too-tight dress if you don’t follow their advice.
Did you know that bridesmaid dresses standardly measure about five sizes up from your rack size? I thought it was bad buying bathing suits, which invariably size far larger than your street clothes. I suspect this bridesmaid sizing is intended to make the bride feel that much more superior. Place her up on the pedestal, the only time she’s gonna get to enjoy this position. So the bride is sporting her size 4 clingy little number, while the bridesmaids are ordering their dresses in a size 20. No doubt created by my favorite designer, Omar the Tentmaker (see below).
When the day finally arrived that my bridesmaid outfit was delivered, I was shocked. My two-pieced strapless floor-length number in steel gray sateen was practically shiny enough to see my reflection in.
Then came the time I’d dreaded: trying on this flattering bit of haute (or should I say “not”) couture. The moment of truth was humiliating. All I needed was a trunk and a swishy little tail and I’d have been placed on the endangered species list because I was hunted for my ivory tusks. The words “husky” and matronly kept swimming through my head. Husky is fine, if you’re a blue-eyed sled dog, but not so flattering if you’re a blue-eyed mom, even if you are a beast of burden. And matronly, well that’s a word that evokes its own connotations, none of which are too great. Suffice it to say, a red hot mama, I was not.
The whale-bone support structure in the strapless top pushed my breasts up to chin-level, preventing my arms from resting flat at my sides. I wondered how I was going to negotiate eating and drinking at the reception with my newly-endowed cleavage getting in the way of my wineglass. Perhaps I’d be able to just rest my dinner plate right on top of my boobs, doing away with the need for a table. The small mercy for which I was thankful was that the dirndl style of the skirt hid all sorts of figure flaws. Of course, by hiding them, this amplified my amplitude, if you know what I mean. Add 18 wheels and this baby could’ve rolled on down the highway, ten-four good buddy.
How sad, in middle age, when I have finally come to accept my imperfections with something close to good grace, that I then have them flouted at me by my being forced to parade around alongside a bevy of young, slender beauties, the lone matronly bridesmaid. Here I was, fully prepared to attend this wedding dressed in an age-appropriate, somewhat elegant dress, and instead, I was relegated to laughingstock status—looking much like a dingy gray London sky, in my shiny sateen gown. The wedding guests sniggering as I sashay down the aisle, “Good lord, who on earth is that? She must be someone’s sister, poor thing.”
The good news, though, is I think I’m out of relatives of marrying age now. I’m pretty sure the next wedding I’m invited to, I’ll be able to dress as me. Only problem is if I end up picking some hideous looking garment, I won’t have the bride to blame it on—I’ll have to take all the credit myself.