Friday, October 17, 2008

Million Dollar Pens

As I was scribbling notes in the middle of the night last night, I started thinking again about practical weddings. I was on my back in bed, writing on a scrap of paper, glad I was using a pencil, because pens don’t work upside down.

Then I remembered the
urban legend that NASA spent $11 million to develop a pen that would work in zero gravity, while the Russian Cosmonauts simply used pencils. While the story isn’t actually true (regular pens do work in space, after all), it got me thinking about “solutions” that the wedding industry has dreamt up for problems that don’t actually exist.

Like flowers. They were originally used as wedding decorations because they were plentifully available and free. Church ladies used to pluck stems from their own gardens. Now we buy them from florists who fly them in from the other side of the world. You already know about my eco-friendly plan to
pick flowers out of my neighbor’s backyard.

And clothing. People used to wear their best dress clothes to their weddings. Now brides (including me!) buy dresses that we wear once. And we make our friends do it too by selecting bridesmaids dresses that will never be worn again.

I’m guilty of the one-time-use dress, but I did ask our female attendants to select their own black dresses in the hopes they’d choose one they already have or buy one that they’ll wear them again. The men are wearing the tuxedos they already have. Only one or two of them don’t have tuxes; most everyone else can get dressed right out of their own closets.

And my dress (named Alice Bell, after Mama’s namesake) cost $250. I found her online. I thought she’d be perfect, if only her skirt were made of a different material. I went to the store that carried her, and found that her skirt was made of the very material for which I had hoped! Angels began singing, and lights from heaven shone down on us, as we ran in slow motion across the room toward each other. Maybe it was just elevator music, compact fluorescents, and me stumbling over jeweled slippers and tulle underskirts, but it sure did feel like a spiritual moment. There were scores of other lovely dresses there, but I tried on Alice Bell first. I knew she was the one.

Unfortunately for my MOH, we hadn’t planned on going dress shopping that day, so instead of wearing my everyday undergarments, I had on something fancy I got from the Mister for Valentine’s Day. She was more than a little surprised when she helped me in the dressing room. I think I heard her scream, “My eyes! My eyes!” but it may have only been a polite, “Oh! My goodness!” I haven’t worn those bloomers since.

My MOH told me I couldn’t buy the first dress I tried on, and made me try on a bunch more dresses. I know she was looking out for my best interest, because she certainly didn't want to see more of my skivvies. I tried on ones that looked like costumes from Swan Lake – feathery bodices and tulle skirts poofing out from the waist so much that I had to turn sideways to get out of the dressing room. I tried on ones that were covered in elaborate beading that scratched the undersides of my flabby arms as I waved them around, imitating dance moves for the reception. And ones that looked like rumpled bed linens. Ones that imitated bordello curtains. Dark champagne ones. Blinding white ones. Satin, organza, chiffon ones. Heck, I even tried on ones that had huge bows on the butt, just to show some solidarity with the 80’s brides who had no other choice.

But Alice Bell and I were made for each other. I asked about ordering her, and the saleswoman told me that my beautiful girl had been discontinued. “Either buy her now for $250, or never see her again.” So I paid her paltry ransom and took her home that very night. To be perfectly honest, I would have bought her if she had cost four times that much. But my conscience and my pocketbook are oh-so-glad she didn’t.

Alice Bell has moved into my neighbor’s guestroom, far from the prying eyes of the Mister. In fact, the window of her room looks out over the garden where the flowers for my bouquet will grow.

No, friends. I don’t need $11 million pens. I like my pencils just fine.

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