It’s time to get my boobs done.

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I want a boob job.
Oh, shut up.
It’s not a matter of being greedy. I know my secrets are already too big for Victoria to keep, and my current bras are, like the best suspension bridges, already marvels of engineering. I believe they could support eighteen-wheelers speeding across the Hudson, and still have the capacity to carry every runner in the New York marathon. My boulder-holders are strong.
It’s not a matter of vanity, either. I am sixty two years old, and the only part of my anatomy that is currently perky or forthright is my nose… the one perfect feature on my otherwise gravity-challenged frame. My mammaries may appear to be staring cross-eyed at my knees, but that’s really no reason to invade them surgically. They’re kind of endearing this way, like a pair of tired old beagles at the pound, that only the kindest soul will adopt.
It’s a matter of perspective.
When I was young, I had an hourglass figure. My chest was ten inches larger than my waist, and two inches smaller than my hips. I kind of resembled Betty Boop, and honey, I got an awful lot of mileage out of that phenomenon. I wielded my puppies like a double-barrelled shotgun, and they were killer.
They were very useful when I was onstage, of course… you can’t imagine how much atrocious acting an audience will tolerate while they’re waiting for an actress in Elizabethan garb to have a nip slip. But they were very useful in the corporate world, too. While I was working as a marketing writer for an insurance company, my department reported a to V.P. who had a known weakness for well-endowed women. Whenever I had to bring him a first draft to review, I would wear a lavender knit dress with strategically placed eyelets, worn over a skin colored bra. The poor fool never knew what hit him; he’d stare at my front for fifteen or twenty minutes while chatting inanely, trying to figure out whether he was really seeing what he thought he was looking at. Finally, he’d put his stamp of approval on whatever I’d presented to him. My coworkers would seethe; this man never approved anyone else’s work the first time it was presented to him. I never divulged my secret… and I’ve been giggling about it for a good thirty-five years.
Those days are over, of course, but I’ve never forgotten what I learned: There’s an awful lot of power in a good pair of tetitas.
As my figure expanded and my vanity diminished, I stopped using the girls as strategic tools. In fact, I took them for granted, even though I must say they always retained a happy sway over my husband, for which I was… and am… very grateful.
But recently, something has happened.
I’ve been perfectly content for many years to select my clothes from the Sam Walton collection. After all, I have not attended any events where I could not wear stretchy black pants and some variant on a t-shirt. But now, I have to attend a number of events that call for clothes that Walmart doesn’t sell. I found appropriate outfits on Etsy and Amazon, but as I was trying to place my orders, I had to give them my size… and to determine that, I needed to state my measurements.
Measurements? Really?
I took out the measuring tape I’d bought when I had to buy bathroom curtains, and proceeded to measure my chest, waist and hips.
My hips are still twelve inches larger than my waist… but my waist and my chest are now exactly the same size!!!
When the hell did that happen?
I took off my top and ran to the mirror. (Boy, I hope the shutters were closed!)
The front view was depressing, but familiar. Then I looked at myself from the side. Damn! I looked worse than pregnant; it appeared that Tolkien’s Gollum was hitching a ride under the skin of my belly!
I decided to look at pictures of myself from the last few years, to see if I could figure out when my middle overtook my top. I couldn’t pinpoint the moment when the change occurred, but I did find something significant: a picture from Halloween three years ago, when I dressed up as Brunhilde. To build up that warrior-woman’s legendary decolletage, I sewed a pair of children’s army helmets on to a camouflage shirt, and covered both in matching fabric.
I wound up with a pair of McGupps that could have ignited the fires of Gotterdammerung.
But you know what? As I looked at the picture, I realized something disturbing: those humongous promontories made the rest of me look smaller! My waist appeared less prodigious; my hips weren’t quite so excessive.
And I looked powerful as all get out.
I’ve decided I want to look like Brunhilde all the time.
The question is, of course, how can I get this done? And where? I understand it’s impossible to get implants larger than 800 cc.’s from a licensed plastic surgeon here in the United States; considering my current size, they’ll make me look like I’m sporting big pimples. I’ll have to get the sort of heroically large implants that are only available from disreputable surgeons operating in the South Pacific, familiar with the size and shape of a good, firm coconut.
I’m going to have to spend an awful lot of money on these babies, too… enough money for a new car… or new floors… or even a state of the art exercise machine, which could help me work my belly off.
But what fun would that be?

Leftover leftovers

On this lovely, sunny Saturday afternoon, I am eating the final serving of Thursday’s dinner for lunch… so I’m having leftovers. The thing is, though, that on Thursday we had spaghetti with a very special sauce. It included everything left of Sunday’s pork chops, Monday’s meatloaf, Tuesday’s Swedish meatballs, and Wednesday’s sweet Italian sausages.
In effect, I’m having leftover leftovers… and damn, they taste delicious.
It’s amazing how wonderfully all the flavors blend… especially when you consider all the incongruous ingredients that made up the individual meals. This damn spaghetti sauce includes ketchup, tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, mustard, olive oil, butter, pepper, peppers (really, couldn’t anyone have renamed these babies?), onions, red wine, vegetable bouillon, salt, maple syrup, garlic, oregano, basil, bay leaves, and God knows what else, in proportions one can only guess at.
I’ll never be able to replicate the taste… but that’s okay. The ephemeral nature of the thing is part of its charm. Eating this meal is like watching an exceptional live performance… you’ll never be able to see the exact same thing again, but you’ll see other great performances, and enjoy them just as much.
I’ll have leftover leftovers again, and they will be fantastic.
The whole experience of having leftovers is something very new in our lives. When Jeff and I first got married, I cooked like a chemist, following recipes to the T, and making just enough servings for two. This was never enough. At the time, Jeff was a brawny young man who worked with his hands, and he ate enough for two or three people. I was (and am) a very healthy eater myself; my Mom used to call me “The Department of Public Works,” because I would happily dispose of any garbage lying around the kitchen.
I learned to double recipes… then triple them.
In time we had children, and neither one was a picky eater. They ate what was put in front of them, what was left on the stove, and whatever could be scraped out of the pot.
But now, they’re out there on their own. Jeff’s appetite has subsided significantly, and I’m trying not to outgrow the largest size in the plus size store, so I’m no longer eating to the point of satiation.
Suddenly, we’re experiencing a new phenomenon… we still have food at the end of a meal.
And now, the challenge is this… how many ways can I reconstitute the remnants of our meals into new and delicious offerings?
I particularly enjoy working with leftover chicken. This has a family precedent, actually. My grandfather, who was a fabulous cook, was determined to eat well even when trapped in Havana during the worst years of the Castro era. He established a rule for himself: get three meals out of every chicken.
I’m doing everything in my power to meet and exceed his goal.
Last week’s chicken performed like a champion. On Monday, I gave it subcutaneous shots of mojo (a magical concoction made of sour orange juice, cumin, garlic, pepper, salt and fairy dust), buttered it under the skin, and baked it to perfection. Jeff had the legs, I had half a breast. We had a delicious meal, and the refrigerator got the greater part of a chicken. On Tuesday, I took the remaining half a breast, and managed to prepare enough chicken salad to make sandwiches for both of us. On Wednesday, I made soup, which we had for dinner together, and I had for lunch on Thursday and Friday. On Saturday, I took everything that was left and fed it to the cats, who haven’t been happy with their dry food ever since.
But now, here I am. I’ve finished my spaghetti, and have absolutely no leftovers whatsoever sitting in the fridge. Tonight, we’ll have to have something fresh… seasoned for the first time…experiencing a virginal moment on the fire.
It’s almost a disappointment.

Pffffffft.

I’m not manic-depressive. I’m manic-deflative.
Like a balloon.
You know how they’re big and bouncy and cheerful when they’re full of air? That’s how I am when I’m pursuing a goal… I’m ebullient, and filled with ideas, which I am uncontrollably eager to share as fast as they pop into my head. Why? Because the more free rein I give to my imagination, the more imaginative I get, and the higher I feel.
But when my ideas are discouraged, and my imagination is curbed, the deflative stage sets in, and it’s an ugly thing indeed. It starts with sputtering… those desperate attempts to get my ideas heard, even though people seem to equate the sound of my voice with a loud and very prolonged fart. This is followed by weaving, streaking, and darting about without purpose or direction, crashing into any object or being that stands in my path, completely unaware of the consequences of such an impact, and frankly, too injured to care.
Finally, I quiet down as I lose most of my air. I become dull. Soft. Immobile. I look discarded, and I feel discarded as well.
Can I be re-inflated?
Maybe.
Once.
Twice.
Not too many times, though. The skin grows thin; holes appear.
How sad it is not to have enough energy to pop.

Bitter musings.

I have spent a lifetime suppressing anger.
I had a lot of training.
When I was a child, I learned very quickly that any expression of anger tended to provoke immediate retaliation from someone more powerful than myself… a playmate who would tattle, a teacher who’d call home, a parent who’d whip a belt across my shins.
Nonetheless, I remember the vibrant, vivid anger of childhood; the all-consuming rage that could not be contained regardless of the consequences. I remember crying, hitting, and screaming… and I wish I could remember that these led to catharsis, but I don’t think they did. They led to corporal punishment, verbal derision, enforced isolation, a keen sense of mistrust, a black sense of humor, and a desperate sense of futility. They led to pain. My pain.
But almost inevitably, the person who had provoked my anger would insist that I was the one who was causing his or her pain. The child who stole my toy would cry because I had called him a thief, thereby getting him in trouble. The teacher who punished me for another child’s wrongdoing would rail against the calumny with which I accused her of injustice, tarnishing her flawless reputation. The parent who broke a promise would wail like Lear, and bemoan the ingratitude of a child who could ignore all the sacrifices made on her behalf, focusing instead on the insignificant event which had prompted the current outburst.
I learned that everyone around me felt justified in causing me pain… physical and psychological… but they would not tolerate it if I caused them the least discomfort in return.
“You want to be angry? I’ll give you a reason to be angry,” they’d say to me.
And they did.
Well, I wasn’t stupid. If I didn’t like being angry, and people were going give me additional reasons to be angry every time I got angry, I’d better stop getting angry!
I don’t know how I did it, but I learned to swallow my wrath. I became sullen, morose, non-verbal and weird, but by golly, I was a docile creature. I think I might have exploded had I not discovered writing as an outlet; I recently threw out a notebook of angst-ridden poems written in my teens featuring cheerful couplets like “Cut the vein/ watch the blood rain.” Nobody read these verses except other drang-driven teenagers; had any responsible adult seen my dreary quatrains, I would have been locked up faster than a Tennessee Williams heroine. Perhaps I should have been.
As time went on, I found other outlets: Valium. Wine. Sex. Work. I even discovered illness. When I was in my thirties, during a particularly bad stretch in my life, I started experiencing abdominal pains… then chest pains… then a nasty petechial rash. After many medical tests, my doctor pulled me into his office, sat me down, and asked, “Are you under a lot of stress?” At the time, my husband and I were working our asses off and getting deeper and deeper into debt; my children’s wants and needs were growing faster than they were (and so was their impatience with our limited means); my house was in real danger of foreclosure; the neighbors’ kids were breaking into our car and stealing from us, much to the disinterest of the local police. Yes, I was under a lot of stress… but was I angry? At this point, I no longer knew how. I knew how to be sick, I knew how to be depressed, but I no longer knew how to be angry. The doctor prescribed a nightly glass of wine. A subsequent doctor prescribed Citalopram. I took them both, and became very amenable indeed.
For a very long time.
Why bring it up now?
Maybe it’s because I’ve noticed that we live in a very angry age, in which people are saying very hurtful things to each other.
Maybe it’s because people are saying very hurtful things to me, as they accuse me of hurting them.
If I am indeed hurting anyone, I am sorry. I really am. But you know what? It finally occurs to me that I should not put up with people hurting me. I am a person. I have intrinsic value.
I should be angry at the way I’m being treated.
But damn it, I don’t remember how.

Say yes to the 600 pound little hoarder.

I watch too much TV.

I always did, you know. I’ve been a vidiot since early childhood, when my father would ask me, “Do you think you’re ever going to make a living out of watching television?” Well, I showed the old man. For sixteen years, that’s exactly how I earned my keep. I spent six years teaching cable company employees how to sell TV channels they were too lazy to watch; then, I spent ten years writing bill stuffers for cable customers, telling them what they should watch on that hodgepodge of channels they didn’t know they had. Of course, they would rip up my work without reading it, but that wasn’t my problem. All I cared about was having a valid excuse to hog the remote at home. I would blissfully surf from one channel to the next, watching all kinds of good garbage, and if anyone tried to pry the clicker from my hand, I’d clutch it to my chest and cry, “this is RESEARCH; I’m WORKING!”

I was shameless.

But then, when my husband and I were between houses, we moved in with my kids for a month, and my son taught me a whole new way to watch television.

You see, my son has two overriding interests in life… real estate and food. If he can’t sell it, flip it or fry it, he has no interest in watching it. Consequently, everything he wants to see or hear is available on two channels: HGTV and the Food Network, and he didn’t let us watch anything else while we were guests in his house.

But you know what? It didn’t matter to me. At the time, we were in the throes of selling one house and buying another, and he introduced us to programs that spoke to our hearts. Should we have fixed up the old house instead of buying another? I spent hours binging on Love It or List It, and never got a definitive answer. Should we buy new furniture or fix up the old stuff? Christina Al Moussa wouldn’t have hesitated; she would have thrown the old garbage out and filled our home with blingy new furnishings. Should we look for a house with a pleasant configuration, or pick up a bargain and knock down its walls? I longed to share in Chip Gaines’ destructive catharsis, and long after we’d moved into our comfy new home, I’d stare at each wall maliciously, wondering whether I could knock it down and enjoy the delights of open concept living.

I must say that my husband got over the HGTV thing much faster than I did; once he was ensconced in his very own man cave again, he took his brand new remote and started surfing around for his kind of television: Law and Order, NCSI, and old John Wayne movies.

I sat in the living room, combing through the listings with Jonathan and Drew, and every time my husband entered my domain, he’d ask the same question: “Are you still watching that crap?”

I began to feel self conscious about it… and like a fat little girl who feared being caught with the third Hershey bar of the morning, I started changing the channel whenever I heard him coming. One day, I switched to my son’s other favorite, The Food Network, and chanced upon a group of chefs being forced to make a dessert out of the outrageous ingredients in a little brown basket… horrid things like mangoes, spinach, geoducks and Milk Duds… and I got hooked on Chopped. Faster than you can fry an egg, I became a Food Channel addict. For months I watched nothing else, and I really must tell you, I picked up a lot of information. I learned how to balance sweet and savory elements, how to substitute some herbs for others, how to get commercial tomato products to stop tasting like tin cans, and how to put tiny servings on enormous plates, so people would think I was a gourmet chef. I learned everything except how to duplicate Anne Burrell’s spun sugar hair.

Goodness only knows how long my Food Channel addiction would have lasted had my daughter not met a wonderful boy and entered into a serious relationship. Like most mothers, I started dreaming of the day they made it official, and started wondering what kind of wedding dresses were out there, and which would look best on my daughter. I knew that TLC had a program called “Say Yes to the Dress,” and one day, when Chopped was playing a rerun with which I was a little too familiar, I did the unexpected. I switched the channel.

Oh, boy.

TLC has Say Yes to the Dress… Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta… Say Yes to the Dress UK… and for those who’ve already said yes, Four Weddings, in which four bitchy brides attend each others’ nuptials and throw shade on their rivals’ gowns, venues, food, liquor, and guests, as they vie for a honeymoon they could easily have afforded had they not spent the GNP of Lichtenstein on their over-the-top bridal celebrations.

Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta plays between seven and nine in the morning. At first I would fall asleep at some point in its second hour and wake up for Four Weddings. Sometimes, though, I’d wake up between them, and that’s when TLC
used to play Hoarders. A few times, I awakened to see a house that looked much, much worse than my own messy little abode and I’d think, “Geez! Look at that! I’m not THAT bad!” Just when I started thinking I’d watch Hoarders on a regular basis, the channel changed its programming lineup and started showing “Little People, Big World.” Very quickly, I got caught up in the life of the Roloffs… in their divorce, their children’s marriages and pregnancies, their burgeoning new relationships.

After Four Weddings, when I was about ready to go and make myself some lunch, TLC would play “My 600 Pound Life.” Don’t you think this one speaks right to the heart of this chubby chickie? Every show is the same. You meet an enormous person who can no longer move, bathe, travel, work or have sex. They visit Dr. Nowzaradan (who should really throw away his bottle of Just for Men hair dye) to ask for a gastric bypass. He puts them on an 800 calorie a day diet, and asks them to lose 30-50 pounds in a month. (I know. Right???) They cheat and put on weight. He yells at them, throws them in the hospital, and shows them they can lose weight by actually not eating. He sets them free, and they try harder. They succeed, get their surgery, and lose hundreds of pounds… which leaves them with enormous flabs of flapping extra skin that needs to be removed surgically. Nobody ends up good looking, but at least they can work, drive and bathe.

Try to watch this at lunchtime without cutting back on calories. It’s the best deterrent to overeating that I’ve ever found.

Dr. Now is followed by three or four hours of Say Yes from New York, then the channel’s evening programming, which usually consists of multiple episodes of one of their shows.

A few nights ago I wasn’t sure whether to expect the Roloffs or Dr. Now, and I found a brand new program… dealing with the problems of severely overweight little people.

That’s when I realized I had a problem.

All I wanted to do was browse through wedding dresses; how did I get myself mired in the personal problems of a bunch of fat dwarves?

I need to stop this addiction to specific channels. I really do. I need to start watching scripted series, and movies, and sitcoms and plays, regardless of which network plays them. I need to start watching the news, and more public television.

Or better yet, I need to start reading books again.

Books.

I loved them, you know.

And I will again. Right after Randy shows this bride the newest gown by P’Nina Tornai.

Glinda the Good Witch and the Feather Duster Lady

My paternal grandmother was not a pretty woman. She was, God bless her, a heavyset, sallow-skinned lady with a face like Sun Yat Sen. I saw her for the last time when I was seven, and my memories of her visage would had faded long ago had it not been for photographs. We don’t have many of them… an unremarkable picture of her walking with my father, at some point in his teens… a few shots of her at my christening, blending into a sea of relatives. But we do have a few images of her that are burned into our psyches… indelibly imprinted in that naughty, rascally corner of the mind where cheeky disrespect flourishes and laughter springs up inappropriately.

All of those pictures were taken at my parents’ wedding.

You see, my poor grandmother lived in the country… in a little town in the Eastern part of Cuba far removed from the cosmopolitan elegance of Havana. When she came to the big city to attend my parents’ wedding, she had a black lace dress to wear which was perfectly appropriate, but she didn’t have a fancy hat or fascinator, which was de riguer for women attending nuptial ceremonies in the 1940’s.

Now at the time, my mother’s uncle (the one whom I always called Grandpa) was married to a woman who was breathtakingly beautiful, and dressed like a celebrity. When she strode by in tulle and feathers, she looked like a flight of angels; few others had the grace or elan to carry off her frocks, jewels, or hats.

You know where this is going.

My poor homely grandmother needed a hat, and my grandfather’s wife asked her to select one to wear from her breathtaking collection.

And they marched off to the wedding, where many photographs were taken.

Wicked, wicked photographs.

I first remember finding them when I was about eight years old. My brother, sister and I asked my mom to show us her wedding pictures, and she, innocent soul, pulled them out. Did we focus on the fact that mom looked like a queen? Noooooooooo. Did we noticed that Dad looked like a million bucks, dressed to the nines in his natty cutaway? Uh uh.

“Oh my God,” one of us asked. “Is that Grandma? Why is she wearing a feather duster on her head?”

“That’s not a feather duster,” another one replied. “It’s covered in mosquito netting!”

“Maybe it’s a buzzard that got trapped!”

“Why didn’t anyone try to swat that thing off her head?”

My mother looked in horror at her three impertinent children, laughing uncontrollably, breaking out into louder and more raucous peals every time they turned a page in her wedding album.

“Stop that!” She yelled at us. “Show some respect! That’s your father’s mother!”

“And she’s wearing a feather duster!” we cried out.

“Shut up before he hears you!” she implored. This should have had the desired effect… we knew my father had little patience for disrespectful urchins… but then we saw the twinkle in my mother’s eye.

“You’re busted, lady! You think it’s funny too!”

And that’s how it started…the countless afternoons we spent leafing through that album laughing at the feather duster lady. It was the one activity guaranteed to chase away ennui, to distract us from the stresses of childhood, and to fill us with unfettered glee.

In time we grew up and got married.

Knowing how my siblings and I visualized our grandmother, I swore that my mother would look regal in my wedding pictures. I had my cousin design her a gown that royalty would have coveted… an elegant creation made of richest Belgian lace… and indeed, whenever my children look through my wedding album, I know they see her and think, “Wasn’t Grandma Cusita a lovely lady!”

I should have worried about my mother-in-law.

The irony of it is that my darling Mazey was normally one of the best-dressed people I knew. She had a wonderful figure well into her later years, and a real appreciation for fabrics, textures, colors and trends. The woman had closet after closet filled with truly elegant clothes; beautifully cut dresses, exquisite separates, and enough expensive shoes to make Imelda Marcos feel like a piker.

But a few months before my nuptials, she called me and said, “Wait till you see the dress I bought for your wedding! It is the most magnificent gown I have ever seen!”

“What does it look like?” I asked.

“Oh, it is so beautiful! It has your blue and pink colors, long sleeves, and a big, full skirt. So flattering!”

She sounded so happy, so triumphant at having found this perfect frock, that I honestly rejoiced for her, and really looked forward to seeing her on my wedding day.

As my bridesmaids and I got into our gowns in the dressing room of our wedding venue, the door flew open, and Mazey made her entrance with all the confidence of Carol Channing on the stage in Hello, Dolly!

And my sister-in-law cried out, “Holy shit, Ma, you look like Glinda the Good Witch!”

She did, too. The dress was indeed pink and blue… it had a layer of diaphanous blue fabric draped over another layer of gauzy pink, looking for all the world like a cloud of gossamer  ham. The sleeves were so full and so poofy that even Princess Diana could not have carried them off, and awkward embroidered flowers that echoed the wilted lavender weed sitting on top of her head.

And the future became clear to me… my children would spend rollicking afternoons leafing through our pictures, pointing at their grandmother, and asking, “Why didn’t anyone garnish that dress with pineapples?”

I thought of them today as I shopped through the Internet, looking for something divine that I could wear to my daughter’s upcoming wedding. I found an outfit that filled me with delight. It’s a cross between a jumpsuit and a caftan, made of a nice, flowing fabric in a scrumptious aubergine color…

And I heard my unborn grandchildren cry out, “Grandma looks like a big purple bat!”

Passing the baton…

They say that women spend the first part of their lives dreaming about their own weddings, and the rest of their days dreaming about their daughters’ (and if they’re lucky, granddaughters’).

That’s certainly been true for me.

From the time she was in daycare, holding hands with the little boy who lived next door to her care provider, to the wonderful moment this weekend when I saw that the hand her beau was holding sported an engagement ring, I’ve longed for my daughter’s betrothal.

Oh, the weddings I’ve imagined throughout the years! Sumptuous shipboard weddings with chandeliers and an orchestra… rustic barnyard receptions with hayrides, mason jars and square dancing… breezy, beachy blowouts at the Jersey shore, with clambakes and bonfires under the stars… wildly sophisticated New York galas, with white-gloved waiters serving pheasants under glass… tiny, intimate ceremonies at soulful little chapels with shimmering stained glass.

In order to practice for the day when I could plan my daughter’s wedding, I spent years trying to throw perfect parties for her. Every birthday became a challenge. I never had the money to buy magnificence, but the Lord blessed me with plenty of imagination, so her birthday parties were awesome. There was the year we rented out a small movie theater, so she and her friends could watch a movie by themselves, eating candy and popcorn to their heart’s delight (not expensive if you do it at 10:00 in the morning!). There was the bash at a local pizzeria, where a passel of 6-year-olds were actually convinced that they themselves had made the pie.

Best of all, there was the Sweet Sixteen party. For pennies… pennies!… I managed to secure a top notch catering hall, which served six foot subs and hot dogs to kids who preferred weiners to filet mignon. I designed and made her invitations, since she wanted gryphons as her theme, and nobody made gryphon-inspired stationery in those pre-Harry Potter days. I got two DJs for the price of one, since a local DJ wanted to train her very handsome son in the family business. And I made all the centerpieces… glorious vases filled with leafy greenery, each one holding a beautiful,  delicate betta fish, much to the surprise of many of the kids who attended.

Since so many people wanted to take the vases home, I spent the following week filling more vases with greenery and betta fish, and driving remembrances of my kid’s party all over town.

And now, she’s getting married.

And she and her fiance want to plan their own wedding.

Let me pause for breath before I continue writing.

They want to plan their own wedding.

I suppose I wanted to plan my own wedding, too, back in the day… but there were plenty of other women vying for the job. Not my own sweet mother, God bless her memory… she didn’t have a party-planning bone in her body… but there were plenty of others. There was my wonderful cousin, who designed my dress. I told her I wanted ivory satin and diagonal ruching, with no lace or train. She told me in no uncertain terms that anything other than white would mark me as a hussy, and designed the most magnificent white lace gown, with a majestic train that marked the start of my life as someone’s queen. I had never seen, let alone worn, anything more lovely, and I will be grateful for her input until the day I die.

Then there was my husband’s dear cousin, a jeweler, who asked what kind of diamond I wanted. I told her how much I liked emerald cut jewels; she found me a brilliant cut diamond that is lovelier than any other on earth.

And then there was my mother-in-law. She insisted on a wedding in North Jersey, because she didn’t want her family to travel (so my gang had to schlep an hour and a half to the ceremony). She insisted that all her nieces and nephews be included in the bridal party (I barely managed to sneak my siblings and three friends into the mighty entourage). She let me know in no uncertain terms that a small Saturday brunch was a crazy idea; we threw a Saturday night extravaganza that cost roughly what I made that year.

Oh, I got my own way on a few things. Jeff didn’t wear white, as his mother had wanted; I knew damn well we could never pass him off as a virgin. I got to choose the invitations and the bridesmaids’ gowns too… but wait… Jeff’s aunt had the dressmaker raise all the cousins’ necklines.

But all in all, it was a heck of a wedding… and fifteen years later, my husband and I renewed our vows in a tiny little chapel with just a few friends in attendance, getting the ceremony we’d always wanted.

So I’m going to let my daughter and her fiance plan their own wedding.

She’s seen how a party should be put together… how to get maximum bang for the buck… how to select a caterer that will please the guests… how to choose music that will be meaningful.

I have to trust that this magnificent young woman and her godsend of a fiance will design a celebration that they can remember joyfully throughout the rest of their lives.

Now I have to look for something new to obsess about.