Shoe shopping for the average person is a delight. Especially if that is the one part of their body where its size doesn’t make them squirm. For me it’s like looking for the Holy Grail and then, after locating it, complaining that it’s too big to carry home and won’t fit on the book shelf. Remaining consistent with my not-so-girly-ness, I don’t like to shop for anything – clothes, shoes, makeup, furniture, food. I don’t like to shop. Yet I spend a decent amount of time looking. That I enjoy. So I spent copious amounts of perceived downtime looking for a dress for the wedding that Mr. Viking invited me to attend. Of course, I needed the shoes to match since I haven’t replaced my wardrobe of size 10s that went out with the birth of the little dude.
Many megabytes of downloads later, I wandered into TJ Maxx two days before the nuptials to find a dress. (I detest paying full price.) With the move west, I’ve shunned my reliance on the LBD. While wearing black to a wedding seems to be acceptable these days (In California pretty much anything goes – flip flops included.), I was adamant about going for color to be certain that I wasn’t energetically communicating my feelings about the state of marriage today while toasting the bride and groom. Something floral. Something so totally not me.
Besides, black doesn’t resonate with my mood. While I kid about my lack of all things girly, since moving out of the so-called marital home I’ve gone shabby chic french chickified frilly to the nines. It’s not like I’ve redecorated. Plhh, I’ve barely unpacked. But each addition that I’ve managed to actually purchase, not just look at, has been girl, girl, girl.
We swing like pendulums in this process of divorce, no?
It’s all in my master plan (so far comprised of selected home goods and nothing beyond that) to insure that no man gets too comfortable in my home. Nothing against men – as if I need to tell you that about me. Especially not ones who aren’t afraid to gently voice their opinions.
Have you found a dress yet?
Really? (In his head I knew he was saying, The wedding is 2 days away – what kind of girl are you?!)
No. I’ve been looking though. I want to find something bright. Something playful.
No prints, please. (How’s that for gently communicating?)
So through the doors of TJ Maxx I go looking for a solid colored dress fit for a wedding in a season where even the solid colors have prints.
Is lace a print? How about a tone on tone print, does that count? What if I tell him the solid color is on the interior? Nah…he’ll want me to prove it.
With black out of the equation I was left holding four options, with a fifth stolen off the return rack while waiting to be admitted to the dressing room. Once inside the mirrored closet my options were again reduced to four when I realized the dress I had taken nearly out of the hands of the woman who was leaving it behind was the same as the first one I grabbed when I entered the store.
And it became the one I bought. Ice blue raw silk (or some synthetic facsimile thereof), fitted bodice, and a skirt that pleated and poofed out from under the narrowest belted satin bow that ringed my waist. Three satin horizontal stripes wrapped around the skirt, accentuating it’s bulbousness.
This was huge. Swedish chicks with hips don’t buy the poof. I bought the poof. (And for $50 bucks!) It was a jump off the ledge moment. Ice blue, no less. Perfect shade to match my white, often tinged with purple but never tan, legs.
I checked out the size 11 shoes at TJ Maxx in an effort to bring me down from my high of scoring a bargain that was a brave choice. Success. Most shoes simply should not be made in a size 11.
Off to Nordstrom. With Nord in the name I felt certain I’d have a wide selection of nude heels as big as planks of wood from which to pick. As if to punish me for finding a reasonably priced dress, I had the great fortune of spending a fortune on a pair of Cole Haan’s or…shoes fit for a Princess – a pair of L.K. Bennett’s in Kate’s favorite shade of Barbie skin.
The L.K. Bennett’s didn’t fit.
Of course not!
So me and my Cole Haan’s went home with me asking them why they cost so much when they are basically sneakers with heels. That was the first half of the drive. The second half of the drive I tried to justify buying a product that had a little Nike in it.
The morning of the wedding I gathered my plastic covered frock and boxed shoes and made my way to Mr. Viking. To make this process of dressing way more laborious than I desired, silk covered buttons up the back required the talents of a Cirque du Soleil dancer or another set of hands.
Preferably hands that don’t make a basketball feel like a golfball, but at this point the only other option I had was the guy at the gas station. That seemed a bit forward. Clearly, this dress was made for a lady who is partnered up.
I’ll make sure all future dresses are pullovers.
Mr. Viking and I have known each other since February. In that time he’s seen me dressed up not once. I’ve barely seen him stand. It wasn’t until I stood in his foyer watching him walk (still only on the toes of The Foot but to see him walk again was like watching a new born giraffe stand up for the first time, from two feet away) that I realized we were about to experience something radical – a regular human grown-up outing. Up until this time our interactions have been more akin to those in a character novel about a hobbled recluse and his hot friend who comes over to bathe his wound. (Hot was his word choice, friend was my suggested replacement for girlfriend.)
During the drive to Sonoma, past the perfectly straight rows of green vines made richer by the now sand colored hills, we spoke of the bride and groom and how well suited they are to each other. While neither of us wishes to marry again, we found it easy to celebrate the love of another couple who wouldn’t want it any other way.
I was relieved to feel that it was still natural to celebrate the fairy tale. As long as it wasn’t me walking down the aisle.
When she did, the groom’s eyes welled with tears. In a courtyard surrounding a petite pool of blue water, made cozy by maze colored walls of stone, a man and woman said I do.
And nearly sealed the deal without putting on the rings.
The celebrant forgot about that part. We all laughed.
The little (sur)realist in me wondered if it was an omen.
But then, despite the winds from the west, the Unity candle was lit by their own individual tapers. (Once someone produced a lighter. Those are not easy to find in Cali.) It stayed lit.
As the champagne flowed, Mr. Viking and I joined in a conversation with the groom’s father. Wedding talk (the nuptial version of small talk) centers on the bride and groom, what a great couple they make and how this marriage will last, along with the weather. (I’ve come to realize it’s stupid to comment on the weather in Marin. We sound foolish.) As we waited for the return of the newlyweds and the ritual dances, toasts and tossing of high heels to better use up the dance floor, I glanced at the small head table. Room for four on each side. Two champagne glasses sat to the right of the place settings meant for the betrothed. And to the right of each glass sat a figurine.
Minnie Mouse for her.
Mickey for him.
How very Disney.
(I just had a vision of Minnie with a curled mane six sizes too big for a mouse – red, of course, because it sells well these days – a human button nose and a tiara. Had I envisioned that then, the champagne I was sipping would have taken the northern route out my nose in a decidedly un-Princess like flow of carbonated saliva. But the laugh would have rocked.)
It takes a partnership, not a romance, to make marriage work.
My smile led me back to a conversation I didn’t want to miss a beat of as two men discussed relationships. Mr.Viking was nodding in agreement.
But a partnership doesn’t mean turning the man into a lapdog.
I looked up at Mr. Viking. Somebody tried to make him a lapdog. A futile endeavor, that I knew for sure.
Women want the Alpha Male, the biggest rack in the herd, but then they want to hack off the rack and turn him into a lapdog.
Resisting the urge to argue the point, I pondered it instead and continued to listen. He may be right, to a degree. But not all women seek the Alpha Male. Those that do may be under the spell and least suited for an Alpha Male because they are often Alpha themselves, just with softer skin. The Alpha Male is attracted to the beauty, confidence, intellect and perceived power of the Alpha female but isn’t looking for an equal partnership. The Alpha female will accept nothing less, and often needs to be a half inch more Alpha but works with a smaller rack.
Historically, I have dated those that see themselves as Alpha Males but didn’t get the big rack. My natural attraction definitely trends Alpha, I just seem to find the ones who stand on their tiptoes to make their rack higher. My weakened self-esteem attracted their weakened self-esteem. I was an Alpha with a small and slightly droopy rack.
As My Little Physicist has pointed out, like attracts like.
Mr. Viking and I posed for pictures against jasmine-covered trellises. It felt odd to be standing next to him, as our prior encounters were always eye to eye because we were seated. When I emailed the picture to my sister she said, You look like a dwarf!
Bald head aside, Mr. Viking is all rack, physically and otherwise.
And my self-esteem is nearly ready for the Debutante Ball. My rack is back.
Not that I’m looking for man, Alpha, Beta or Gamma, but my former Type A with low self-esteem, now reformed and fully loving herself will only want to show the Alpha Male how a little dash of maternal goes a long way.
Yea, lapdog-o-tize him.
That’s how Mr. Viking would see it. Although I have to applaud his willingness to see The Foot not as a bad step off a boat, but a sign that he’s being given a second chance to realize a dream he shelved years ago, when he tore his ACL on the same leg and went left instead of right.
He’s well on his way this time. The project he’s working on is the rare combination of brilliant concept and perfect timing, with the best partner ever to help execute it, his former wife. And still dear friend.
Man, some people have the best divorces.
So maybe this Alpha Male will become the new Sigma Male – a little more sensitive but still so very Alpha, leading to a long, prosperous and peaceful life somewhere in the herd. (And dare I say sexy? Sexy.) Being the 18th letter in the Greek alphabet, Sigma doesn’t have to focus so much on breaking trail and can spend more time pondering the nuances of life. The subtle shades and shapes that make up the print of the fabric of time. (Time is definitely not a solid.) Those at the rear get taken down and those in the lead have nowhere to hide.
The Sigma responds with ease to the shifting speed and changing shape of the herd as it reacts to threats and obstacles. From the epicenter he can change direction and alter the path of all those around him with a subtle bend of his gait. The herd follows. If he’s loyal, honorable and intelligent, he will choose a good path.
Remember That Man? That Man is the Sigma Male.
Probably a myth. A legend.
The playful nature I rediscovered while fishing in Bodega Bay with the dudes has been sticking around. It feels natural, even though at first I almost let it slip away. It’s helped to life my bad mood and left me without nerves when anticipating dancing with Mr. Viking. Normally, I’d be a little on edge before dancing at a wedding attended by only one person I know. That one person destined to dance in an interesting style with The Foot. And me… Do I even have to explain this?
Without nerves. Nerveless. I was ready to go for hours, but due to injury we torched out one great one and I took a few side spins with the Groom and the Groom’s father. It felt great. If we had twenty dances together the entire reception party would have vanished leaving Mr. Viking and me, sweaty, laughing hysterically and thoroughly worked out.
As the party came to a close, we breathed into steaming cups of coffee. I escaped the chill with the chivalrous offer of his suit jacket. On the other side of the pool an old-fashioned photo booth glowed with a monitor showing the guests who posed, dressed in the playful hats and props provided.
We hammed it up. A fedora on him and a wide, wide brimmed hat trimmed in fuzz on me. Purely in the moment.
With our pictures in hand and our fond wishes expressed, I poured a last cup of coffee for the road. The first sip scalded my throat.
The shock caused me to juggle the cup. Three big drops landed on the front of my dress. They soaked through, but at that hour someone would have to really be scrutinizing me to care. I brushed it off and soothed my throat with ice water. I would have had to burn a hole through my throat to have been willing to give up the smallest bit of bliss I was feeling.
Nearly everyone in attendance gathered for a last farewell on the square in the heart of Sonoma. With a moment alone, I took a tourist’s view of the Square. It’s magical. Mission buildings and twinkling lights, swells of laughter, canopied by trees, lined with cafes, couples strolling (actual strolling) – love was in the air. And probably is by agreement with the Universe. It’s hard to not be amorous in Sonoma.
By my definition it was a fairy tale evening – bliss, no strings.
And no stains on my dress.
Somehow, as if by magic, they disappeared.
The next day, Mr. Viking complimented me for the 20th time since descending his stairs in my wedding garb.
You are so patrician.
I had to ask the meaning.
Royal, he said.
I would LOVE to see this dress! I’m horrible at visualizing patterns and materials. I dont know an “a-line” from an “empire waist” (Project Runway terminology Would you take a photo of just the dress so we can all see? Or is my request way too personal?
Too personal? After all the stuff I unleash on all of you? Is there anything you can ask that could possibly be too personal?
Pic to follow.
You rock. This is exactly why I need to be better at Pinterest and Facebook. Oh! Forgot to announce I’m on Facebook. Tomorrow I’ll add the dress and the FB info. And then maybe I’ll figure out Pinterest.
Stay close, K.
Kati Krause says
Joining, following or liking you (or whatever it’s called!) on Facebook now.
Thank you! Join me, follow me, lead me…make me laugh. Stay close…
Michael Anderson says
Sounds like both a fun (with fashion) and introspective wedding for you. These events are great ways to feed the soul.
And if you are feeling at all in a hurry to climb Mt. Everest, no need to rush. You have many decades still to giterdun:http://www.sfgate.com/news/world/article/Japanese-climber-80-becomes-oldest-atop-Everest-4537247.php
It was a perfect evening. Isn’t he amazing! I’d love to believe I have until then, but I’m shooting for 62. Got to wait until the dudes are out of high school. I also won’t fixate on summiting. They are more important than any mountain. (But I’m getting to the top!)
I love hearing the excitement in your words again! I smiled while reading every word. Good on you Cleo
Thank you, m’lady. I felt playful in Bodega Bay and decided to remain that way. If at all possible.
Thank you for being here, D.
If you’re ever over in the East Bay, you should check out Tootsies on College Ave in Rockridge. They have a whole section just for size 11!
Thinking about your feet…
Thanks for the tip! I bet I could have found my glass slipper there. My feet love knowing that you are thinking about them.
Jessica Petzold says
Love Tootsies in rockridge, but you know Cleo, I have the opposite problem–I have unusually tiny feet. Granted I’m not 6 feet tall, but my size 4 1/2 feet is too small for my 5’2″ frame. I often have to shop at the children section or get the junior size(Tom’s junior size 2….). In the winter I solve the problem by wearing boots stuffed with wadded up tissue since boots don’t fall out when I walk! I also look like I don’t have feet when I wear longer length pants that are a bit flared at the bottom since the shoe just doesn’t show! If only we could combine our feet, I’d love to take some feet length, for lack of better term at the momment, from you!
How fun would it be to blend ourselves to suit our needs! I suppose that’s what we believe relationships to be. That’s where we stumble. We shouldn’t blend then, but I’d blend to shave a few inches off my flipper feet!
I feel your ped pain. But we love them, no?
What a magical evening! So happy for you C.
one quick typo note for you: “It’s helped to life my bad mood and left me without nerves when anticipating dancing with Mr. Viking.” should read “helped to LIFT”, no?
Keep making magic C!
Those pesky typos. Although when life is inserted for any word it’s partially okay. Then I hear the voice of my AP English teacher saying, Your work is not done here. So off I go to fix it! Thank you.
JJ aka JoJo says
Awesome post….beautifully written….I was on that magic fairytale date in Sonoma…u really brought it to life…what a writer u are! Love the dress…a 6′ tall person would look like a dwarf next to The Viking…Swedish?? Viking?? Same neck of the woods…glad ur having fun…luv you…JJ
Thank you for your kind words. It was fun to tell the tale. I’ve made a choice to have more fun. It’s always been there, I just stopped helping myself to it. I’m on a fun diet!
S from Montreal says
Me wanna seeee
Brilliant, Cleo – So happy for you ! And now me wanna seeeee
I posted the dress on Twitter and thought that I had linked the Facebook and twitter accounts successfully. That would mean that I have a small degree of technical know-how. Apparently I don’t even have a small degree, or even a fraction of a degree. The dress lives on twitter. Perhaps it will live on Facebook soon. Or I will bring the world wide web to a halt. One or the other.
This dress needs to roam the world. Whoever wants to borrow it, have at it. Size 8. Must send pics.
Cock robin says
Oh how I loved this post !! Sat here smiling the whole read. I can picture you in ice blue looking amazing and I could hear your giggle on that dance floor !! So happy for you – love you, miss you
You rock. No one can own a dance floor like you.
I love this post
Have been reading for a number of months now since I discovered my husbands betrayal. You have helped immensely. Glad you had such a wonderful evening, much deserved.
Thank you for taking the time to comment and for your kind words. I’m grateful you found HGM and that the words here help while you navigate betrayal. Stay close, T…