5th grade was a big year for me. New school, lowest grade on the totem pole. It was a perfect chance to be seen as someone else. And so my usual self — a self that was more than content wearing pink leggings and a stained tye-dye tee on a daily basis — got up that first morning, heart pounding, and carefully donned a super-coordinated combo involving a tiered jean skirt, a matching jean jacket, a ruffly white shirt, and white keds.
You see, I was desperately trying to be cool.
18 years later, and I’m stilltrying. Oh sure, I’m more comfortable in my own skin these days than ever, and I’ve sorta come to accept my inherent geekiness — even wear it like a badge.* But nothing, and I mean nothing, has ramped up my insecurities like this damn wedding.
There are so many expectations wrapped up in weddings, you know? From the coworker who insists that your life will be less than complete if you fail to order a giant fancy cake, to the mother who demands that you wear white, to the friend who adheres to astonishingly narrow notions of what an invitation should look like. Are you nodding right now?
Andoh,how I rail against this stuff. There’s that pervasive image burned into our collective subconscious of what a bride should be, think, and do, and I don’t want to participate. I don’t want to perpetuate.** I am afraid of getting pegged as a burgeoning bridezilla. I am afraid of others thinking of me that way.
So I overcompensate. How’s the wedding planning going? they ask. Are you stressed out yet? they ask. “Oh, you know,” I say airily. “I’m not really caught up in all that stuff.” Then I cue up the monologue. It goes something like this: “We’re just trying to plan a fun party for the people we love blah blah blah not worried about matching stuff blah blah blah I’m probably gonna just go buy a dress at Nordstrom blah blah blah.”
I’m that kid at the back of the class, frantically waving my arm in the air. Oh oh oh oh oh!!! Me me me me me! I’m cool! Pick me! Pick me! And so I seize every opportunity to corner people and inform them that, “It’s like, I mean, who even cares about flowers, you know?”***
Here’s the thing: I don’t quite feel that spiteful towards flowers. I actually think flowers are pretty neat, and they can look sharp on a table, but they are not my first priority and I’m not allotting very much of the budget for them. OK, fair enough. So why can’t I just say this? Why do I go to extremes to assure others that I am not one of those brides who cares about stupid things like dresses and what goes on the tables? Why can’t I acknowledge that it’s cool to care about these things, even in my own way?
It’s like 5th grade all over again. I am trying too hard.
* It helps, of course, that the internet made geeks cool again.
** Here I spent five minutes or so trying to come up with a rap that included playa-hate, discombobulate, denigrate, and circumnavigate, but you know… that is just too much effort for a Monday night.
*** I am incredibly eloquent when I speak.