(Revised to Protect the Innocent)
Question: Heather, how do you do it? How do you keep your marriage fresh and exciting after nearly five whole months, while still managing to drive your kids around, post a blog once a week, and play at least two rounds a day of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Answer: People are always* asking me this! And what I like to say is, Friends**, unlike me, it isn’t easy!
That’s why I jumped on the chance to do some serious blogcleaning while my husband is in China this week. In fact, if you take a look around, I think you’ll find that I’ve managed to move the creepy French mannequin dude with the snaggle teeth, insert the missing photo of my mother’s wedding suit, and fix the parentheses I left open on the post about the Register Bitch.
I have even put up, taken down, and scrubbed this very post***.
And after all that work, I’m not gonna lie, I’m exhausted. I have just enough energy left to take a few more questions, after which, hopefully, we’ll have some wine and cheese. Of course, all this work has built up quite an appetite, so what say we get to the Questions right away, before I completely collapse?
Question: Um, okay, go ahead.
Answer: Wait, that’s not a question.
Question: That’s because you asked one, first.
Answer: Oh, right.
Question: Soooo…is it time for us to ask the questions, yet?
Answer: That is an excellent question! You’re so good at this! I can’t wait to hear the rest of them!
Question: You don’t get out much, do you?
Answer: Ha ha, yes, I do not! Are we done now?
Question: Well, can we ask about the asterisks first? Why do you use so many? Wouldn’t it just be easier to use the footnote function?
Answer: No, it would not be easier to use the footnote function****. Great, thanks for–
Question: Wait, wait, here’s another: I don’t get the Actual Ghost/Exposition Fairy stuff. What’s that all about?
Answer: I know, right? Me either.
Question: But, then why do you have them in the blog? They’re not real.
Answer: True. But then again, neither are “you.”
Answer: Could you phrase that in the form of a question?
Question: Okay, the thing is, I’m getting married soon, and I was hoping that we were going to get around to the part about how to buy a dress?
Answer: That’s still not a question. You can’t fool me with your question mark and the way you raise your voice at the end!
Question: Hey, what happened to all the wine?
Answer: Whelp, looks like we’ve run out of time! Thanks for coming, everyone! Tune in next week, when we buy a BEIGE dress!
Question: Really, beige? For a wedding?
Answer: You there, cater boy. Do these crackers have gluten?
Question: I’m not the caterer! I’m your son!
Answer: You know, I could have gone to China, too. But I didn’t. I stayed here. For you. My audience.
Question: Whoa, whoa, look out for the—
Answer: What the–? Who put the stupid mannequin over here?
*By which I mean, of course, never.
**By which I mean, of course, the Quakers. I am always talking to the Quakers in my head. Because, you know: irony. Also, true story: way back in my first marriage, my ex used to drag me to Quaker meeting with him, even though he was technically Jewish. And what I learned while sitting through nearly a solid hour of silence is that there are 212 ceiling tiles in the Friends Meeting House in Madison, Wisconsin; that 15 out of 17 Quakers wear glasses; that 14 out of 17 Quakers wear sandals with socks; and that if you have just gotten into an accident (okay, another accident) with your husband’s Mercedes right before Quaker Meeting, you will spend most of the meeting trying extremely hard not to blurt this out.
***Because it has come to my attention that some people are a little less than happy with their portrayals herein. For instance, one of my daughters, who shall not only not be named, but whose hair won’t even be described, announced a few weeks ago that she was fed up with being used for blog comic relief, because that’s “distribution of character.”
“I think you mean defamation of character,” my other daughter, who has different hair, replied.
“There! SEE? A hundred dollars says that shows up in next week’s post.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” I assured her. “I do have some scruples, after all.”
But I think it’s a good lesson for the children—for all of us, really—to learn: that not everyone is going to be as diligent as I in guarding your privacy. So, if you really want to make sure that you don’t show up in someone’s writing, there are a few simple rules to follow.
#1: Don’t be pithy.
Don’t, for instance, start muttering, like Detective Munch on Law & Order SVU, that true evil lies not in removing all hope, but in allowing people to hold onto the tiniest piece of it, in response to my complaint that the temperature has dropped nearly fifty degrees.
#2: Don’t be fey.
Definitely do not jerk forward in your seat, grabbing at the back of your head, before exclaiming, with relief: “Oh, it’s my barrette. For a minute there, I thought I’d grown a horn.”
#3: Don’t be hilariously foul.
If, for example, someone challenges your love of the Muppets, and you say something along the lines of “Hey, Muppets are great, motherf*ckers!” and your mother suggests, sharply, that you watch your language, do not revise by saying “Sorry. Muppets are great, muppetf*ckers,” and then wait a beat or two before saying meekly, into the silence: “I changed the wrong word, didn’t I?”
****Because I don’t know how to use the footnote function.
As we discussed several blogs ago, finding the not-quite-perfect dress for your mid-life wedding shouldn’t be your sole focus as the big day draws near: sooner or later, you’re going to have to pick a husband to complete your look. And while I’m a big proponent of The Old Ways Are The Best Ways school of thought, I get that you’re far less likely now than you used to be to meet guys by cruising the Avenue on Saturday nights, or lending them your History of Theatre notes, or going to the Field House on Nickel Beer night in your highest-waisted, stone-washed jeans.
But then how will I find him, Heather, you ask, how?
To which I say, as the young people do these days: ai uh oh. I’m a “fashion” “expert,” not a “matchmaker”; do I look like Patty Stanger to you? (Hint: even if you don’t know who this is, just say “no.” Especially if you’re expecting me to cook your dinner.)
Okay then, how did you meet yours?
I’m glad you asked (and not just because this allows me to cut and paste the following)! The answer, like me, is easy: I met him online.
As it happens, my new husband and I are what’s known as a “JDate Success Story.”
I know what you’re thinking (because my Verizon router has begun to pick up brainwaves from at least seven streets over, and you forgot to lock yours with a password). You’re thinking: If I eat two York Peppermint Valentine Patties right now, I can just have a banana for lunch.
Oh wait, no: that’s what I was thinking.
What you’re thinking is: Ick. Succeeding at dating is like winning at parenting: only assholes think they’re competing.
Yes! Exactly! I’d say “ding ding ding,” but that would imply that you’ve won a prize for thinking, and not only is that the very thing we’ve just indicted above, you and I, but I’m afraid that I’ve already given out the Thinking Award to the guy halfway down Solway Street for Wait a minute: it’s President’s Day Week. I guess that means the garbage goes out on Wednesday night, instead.
But as Jdate, an online service that’s been matching up Jewish singles with other Jewish singles (or, in my case, kind-of-Jewish singles with Jewish guys who’ve recently left their wives, as well as non-Jewish singles with Jewish singles, or non-Jews with kind-of-Jews, or non-single-Jews with single non-Jews with big boobs) since 1997, would have it, couples who meet through their website and subsequently marry have achieved “Success Story” status.
And JDate loves to talk about its Success Stories.
No, it loves to mathify its Success Stories, pie-charting and bar-graphing and “5 out of 9 Jews”ing them until you remember—phew!–that you’re not really a journalist and don’t have to do any actual research for this blog after all.
Though for you, my darling 54* readers, I did. And I discovered that the website’s motto du jour, emblazoned over a blurry photo of a groom, a rabbi, and an even blurrier bride standing beneath a chuppah (a traditional Jewish wedding arch; see photo, supra), is “Find Someone Whose Mother is Just as Excited for This Day.”
Which, in my case, is kind of hilarious.
Let’s mathify it, shall we? My mother 1) wasn’t Jewish, and 2) is dead. More awesomely, the motto riffs off the stereotype of the Jewish Mother longing for her daughter to marry a nice Jewish boy–preferably, a doctor–and while 3) I did marry a Jewish doctor**, my mother 4) was a Christian Scientist, who’d have been all 5) I’m happy that you’re happy, so I’m going to try really hard not to show my disappointment on your special day.
And while my husband’s mom was really nice about it, I can’t say that “excited” exactly captures the mood she sported at the second wedding of her 60-year old son to a woman who has upped the grandkid gift-giving ante by three.
But it doesn’t matter, because: Success Story! We win!
And we weren’t even playing the game. At least, not according to the dating “rules.”
For one thing, I was already seeing someone else****, and had only kept my profile up on JDate so that I could continue to play on the message boards there (a story for another blog). And he wasn’t even a paying member of the site—just a browser, scrolling through the photos.
At least, that’s the way he tells it: he stumbled across my picture and just threw money at the site until they let him send me an introductory email. (Okay, fine, that’s not the way he tells it. But if he cares so much about telling it right, he can get his own damn blog.)
Which proves that, at least in his case, all that stuff you waste time writing, if you waste time writing profiles on dating sites, is completely meaningless.
Whereas I had exactly the opposite experience: I fell for him without pictures.
In fact, I fell for him without pretty much anything at all, except for the knowledge that someone who’d looked at my photo (JDate notifies you about stuff like that) had left his profile entirely blank, but for a single word: “Droll.”
True story. True “Success Story”: he had me at “Droll.”
Because who does that? Who summarizes himself in one funny little word? In one stunningly compelling, funny little word? Who has the self-knowledge and the moxie and the heightened sense of irony that allows him to fill out the story of himself by compressing it into the one thing it turns out actually matters more than almost anything to someone who, if she’s anything like me, is me?
Well, not my husband, in this case. Seems he’d just jotted the word down as a note to himself before he went ahead and completed the profile, and JDate makes you wait hours before it deigns to upload your info.
Still, when the rest of the info finally did upload, most of it, luckily, was, indeed, droll (including a photo of him carefully studying a copy of “Dating For Dummies”).
And then we started writing to one another, and I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I didn’t tell him, until about three emails in, that I was seeing someone else, and wasn’t free to date him.
As fate would have it, my Future JDate Husband (tm Jami Comins Schultz) knew the guy I was seeing. And whether fate would have it or not, he knew a couple of details about that guy that proved, as I’d begun to suspect, that he was the type of guy one often encounters on dating websites: a big fat lying liar and a totally shady asshat.
But that’s also a story for another blog. A JDate Failure Story, if you will.
What matters is that I dumped that guy and started dating “Jack,” and the rest, as they say, is mystery.
Sorry, my blood sugar’s a little low.
What’s that, you think? You think I should have another York Peppermint Valentine Patty?
You win the thoughts!
Especially because I’ve had to revoke the Solway Street guy’s award. Excuse me while I use the router to send him a thought of my own:
Thanks a lot, asshole. President’s day ISN’T a garbage holiday. Next time, keep your thoughts to yourself.
*Excluding the 51 or so who are, in fact, me.
**Though I make no claims re: niceness. I mean, he’s nice to me, of course. But I’m pretty sure*** it’s not the first adjective that springs to the minds of others.
***Actually, I’m completely sure. See Verizon router discussion, supra.
****Oh sure, go ahead and judge. But remember, when you go to cast your stone, that “you” are mostly “me” (see *, supra*****). Ouch, amirite?
*****”Supra” is Law School for I’m going to pretend I made that point already, above.
Scene 5: Queen at the King of Prussia Mall
(In which our future family goes shopping in Philadelphia.)
(to the tune of “Bohemian Rhapsody”)
“Me”: Is this a good dress?
Does it look fat on me?
If 4’s my pant size
Why the hell is it squashing me?
Nope, that’s too wide.
I can’t be a bride in pleats!
I’m such a short girl, I need no frippery.
And that’s a cheesy cut. I say no!
The hem’s too high, the neck too low.
Anyway you style it, doesn’t really flatter me. No not me.
The Daughter with Straight Hair: Mama, just buy a dress!
You’ve got but four months or less
Before your wedding’s quite the mess.
The Daughter with Wavy Hair: Mama, shopping’s so much fun!
I hope you don’t just buy one right away!
“Daniel”: Mama, do-oo you
Really mean to let that by?
Maddie just said “less” when she meant “fewer.” Tell me why?
Wavy Hair: That wasn’t I! “Daniel”: Like that even really matters.
“Jack”: You’re great, my bride, in some
Short shift or whatchacallit.
Doesn’t matter; here’s my wallet.
Goodbye everybody, I’ve got to go.
Gotta eat and maybe even buy some shoes.
“Daniel”: Mama, I’ll go too. Actual Ghost: (Anyway, this store blows)
Straight Hair: I don’t want to whine
But I sometimes wish we’d never brought them to the mall.
Actual Ghost: *killer guitar solo*
Bitchy Clerk: I see you in the silhouette of a man.
Buy a tux! It’s so lux! You will look like Dan Craig-o!
Other Clerk: Dunderhead, she’s curvy. Very very curvy! “Me”: Me?
Bitchy Clerk: Like a fellow. Other Clerk: Like a cello!
Bitchy Clerk: Like a fellow! Other Clerk: Like a cello!
Bitchy Clerk: Like a fellow who has boobs. Straight Hair: You’re such a nudge! Actual Ghost: (Stooge stooge stooge stooge.)
“Me”: I’m just a short girl, no one can fit me.
Bitchy Clerk: She’s just a short girl, from a short family.
Send her to Suits; better still: to Petites.
Other Clerk: Here’s a pink; here’s chartruese. We just need to find some hues–
Bitchy Clerk: Priscilla! No! We should just let her go. Other Clerk: –like black or indigo.
Bitchy Clerk: Priscilla! Other Clerk: Or charcoal or cocoa. Bitchy Clerk: But not like driven snow?
Other Clerk: Vanilla? No! ‘Cause she said white’s no go.
Bitchy Clerk: Well how ’bout calico? Other Clerk: Or something with a bow?
“Me”: Heather, Heather, why’d you ever– Wavy: Never! Straight: Ever!
Actual Ghost: (never never will not ever come on girls let’s go)
Both Girls: Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh, Oh!
Straight: Oh mama see, a– Wavy: Mama see, a– Both: Oh mama see, a blue lace frock!
Bitchy Clerk: The gals in Suits have a yellow put aside for thee!
“Me”: For me?
Both Girls: Ai-yeeee!
Actual Ghost: *most excellent guitar solo*
Exposition Fairy: So you see she’s been shopping and it’s nearly July
So you see she’s been shopping but has yet to buy-uy-uy!
Wavy: Oh Lady! Sell the blue to her, Lady!
Straight: ‘Cause it looks kinda cute. And that yellow suit looks like pee.
Actual Ghost/Exposition Fairy/Clerks: *guitar/piano/drums*
Wavy: Ooh yeah Straight: Ooh yeah Actual Ghost: (ooooh ooooh oooooh)
“Me”: This thing sort of flatters–
As far as I can see–
This thing sort of flatters–it kind of sort of flatters
Exposition Fairy: *mournful piano solo*
Actual Ghost: (But the way you’ve changed this song blows…)
Lately, I’ve had the sneaking suspicion that you’ve begun to question my credentials as a mid-life wedding fashion advice-giver (mostly because I’ve been reading your blog, “Who Died And Made You The Mid-life Wedding Fashion Expert?”). And while I want you to know that I think your writing, minus the spelling and grammar errors (the word you want is “bitchin’”—one apostrophe, no “g”) and that thing you do where you post my wedding photos to prove your points (it’s not “evidence” if there’s no time-stamp on the pics, silly) totally rocks, I’m afraid that I must tell you that someone did, in fact, die, leaving me in the position of expert-in-chief:
Twelve years ago today, to be exact.
I know, I know: you feel like a total jerk right now. That’s okay; if you’re anything like me, and I think you are, you actually are a total jerk (example: mining your mother’s death for blog material).
In fact, you, my friend, are the sort of over-achieving total jerk who gets extra jerk points for bringing up other family deaths and peppering them throughout your post (see paragraph 8, picture of my father, and any reference to “younger son,” below).
Not to mention that you’re the sort of uber-Jerk who says things like “you, my friend” when you haven’t even accepted my Facebook request yet.
But so since we’ve established that we’re practically the same person, you don’t need me to tell you that the reason I’m an expert is that I come from a long line of women who got married for the second time at 51–and by “long line,” I mean my mother (whom I’ll call “Mom” for the sake of privacy, and because this will quickly get weepy if I call her “Mommy”) and me.
I know, right? How weird is that? It’s even entirely possible that my mother’s mother (whom I’ll call “my mother’s mother” for the sake of privacy and because she died before I could call her “grandma” or “nana” or whatevs) was also married for the second time at 51, since she married my mother’s father (whom I’ll call “Papi” because why the hell not? I never even met the guy, and I’m in the mood to sound Spanish) twice. Though I think “Papi” was dead by 51 (and there’s nobody living left to ask), so probably not.
Anywhom, I think it’s safe to say that my experience of having helped not one but two 51 year-old women to not look so hot in their second wedding dresses firmly establishes me as the Anna Wintour of Choosing the Less-Than-Perfect Dress for your Mid-life Wedding. And while I know that my personal anecdotes are going to be more than adequate in preparing you for screwing up your own big day, I think we can also learn an awful lot from the advice “Mom” would have given you had she been here today to give it. And because she was an accountant (I know I know right, right?), she would have used numbers to do so.
So, without further ado, I give you:
“Mom”’s Advice For How to Dress For Your Mid-Life Wedding Nearly Thirty Years Ago
1). Do not, under any circumstances, wear a hat.
2). Because you are getting married in the 1980s, make sure that your wedding day style includes an awful perm.
3). Buy a hat.
4). Tilt it, so that your wedding outfit, while technically a White Business Suit, says “Jaunty.”
3). Make sure that you wear white stockings, so that your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit also says “Nurse.”
4). Iron your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit for Nurses.
5). Do not, under any circumstances, drink iced tea while ironing your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit for Nurses.
6). If, however, you do drink iced tea while ironing your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit for Nurses, do not, under any circumstances, jump up to grab the phone before the horrible, new-fangled “Answering Machine” device that your younger son gave you for a birthday present kicks in with its message where he pretends to be answering by saying “Hello! I’m sorry, what did you say? Hello?” because that is just so goddamn irritating.
7). If, however, you do jump up to grab the phone while ironing your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit for Nurses, make sure that, whatever you do, you don’t knock the glass of ice tea all over it.
8). If, however, you do knock the glass of ice tea all over your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit for Nurses, make the best of the situation by calling up your younger son at his place of business and blaming him, in fragments of sentences punctuated here and there with sobs and/or swear words, for ruining your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit for Nurses that Now Has a Gigantic Iced Tea Stain Down the Front.
9). Bleach your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit for Nurses that Now Has a Gigantic Iced Tea Stain Down the Front, and hang it up to dry outside, in the sun, which is full of magical properties.
10). Behold the magic!
11). Note that among the magical properties of the sun is not the property of wrinkle-reduction.
12). Call your younger son (who has no magical properties that you can think of at the moment) and make him come over and take away the Answering Machine.
13). Bring your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit for Nurses that No Longer Has a Gigantic Iced Tea Stain Down the Front But Is Still Wrinkled inside, and iron it.
14). Wear your Jaunty White Business Wedding Suit for Nurses with pride, knowing that it will look less stupid in photos than the pink lace sailor-suit dress you make your older daughter wear while she stands next to you on your right. Make your other daughter wear a peach silk suit, which is pretty much the opposite of anything that might look good on her, even parachute pants or a cape or a banana costume or something. Put her on your other side. Stand your gigantic new husband behind you, for a slimming effect. Put your younger son on the staircase a couple of feet back, in case he has any more new-fangled devices with him.
15). Smile on a tilt, like your hat.
Author’s note: I desperately wanted to attach the photo described above, but my HP PhotoStupid won’t scan. So I’m pulling up a photo of my Mommy (with my father) in a cute dress she made herself, in college, instead. I’m pretty sure she would have preferred it.
Author’s note Part Deux: Okay, I scanned the picture from Jack’s not-as-stupid-scanner, but I remain stupid, so I’m not sure if it will post. If it does post, then yes, I too, got a horrible perm for the wedding. Which is, you know, redundant.