Not Black, Blue, or Beige

For the first time ever, I find that I have empathy for mothers-of-the-groom and mothers-in-law in general. After all, it’s tough playing a minor supporting role in a story in which you birthed the male lead. Whether he is tall, handsome, smart, funny, athletic, or any other number of things, he is the “Best Actor in a Leading Role” and you get none of the credit. You are relegated to “walk-on” or “walk-off” parts and pray that you are not cast as the wicked witch or that your part isn’t written out of the script entirely. Then you find yourself alone in a dressing room, expected to take care of your own make up and wardrobe.

And so it starts…tomorrow begins my quest for a dress to suit my character. A “mother of the groom” dress. Yup. In a little over five months my son will be getting married.

*   *   *

It’s been a long time since I’ve purchased a gown, but I vividly remember the favorites. First came my wedding dress. It was stunning and fulfilled all of the expectations of a first-time bride. Next was the first “grown up” dress – a white one – that I bought and wore to my brother’s wedding (I was only twenty-five at the time); but even more memorable were the Stuart Weitzman satin and rhinestone shoes I splurged on! Then came the fitted black and lace dress that I wore to my cousin Stephen’s wedding. After that was the gold tulle and beaded dress I wore to my sister’s wedding. And last, but not least, was the orange beaded “red carpet dress” I bought for my son’s Bar Mitzvah.

All of these frocks are safely stored in my basement cedar closet. I guess I saved them all (they range from twelve to thirty years old!) because they tell about a meaningful event in my life and remind me of how I felt – inside and out – when I wore them. Ironically, I know that I am the only one who remembers at which occasion these dresses made their appearances; how much they cost; or which shoes and accessories accompanied them. No one else knows or cares.

With this in mind, it’s obvious to me that my “mother-of-the-groom” dress will only mean something to me. I even got this message loud and clear when I googled “mother of the groom dresses.”  Do you know what happens when you enter this string of search words? Most of the results are “mother-of-the-bride” dress sites! Go ahead. Try it and see for your self. Even worse, on the rare site that actually has a category called “mother-of-the-groom,” you’ll find the ugliest, most frumpy gowns ever.

*   *   *

My sister-in-law, Ann, suggested that I come up to New York and she’ll help me buy a dress. My daughter wants me to come visit her in Chicago so I can buy one there. My mother thinks we can find something different in Florida when I go visit in April. But, it was my friend, Meredith, who pushed me to start looking right here in Atlanta. She made me call a boutique store that specializes in “high-end special occasion and evening wear,” where I learned that the spring and summer inventories are actively coming in now.

The saleswoman barraged me with questions about my height (5’6”), weight (uh, let’s just say I still have five to seven pounds to lose), dress size (6+/-), style preferences (I have no clue), and color preferences. Color? The bride is wearing white; the bridesmaids are wearing navy; and the groom and his entourage are wearing “midnight navy” or black tuxedos. I, however, was told that I may wear whatever color I want. So, I made an appointment and reviewed the list of “Best Dressed” from last week’s Academy Awards. My Spanx, good bra, and a pair of heels are packed. I’m ready to start the search for my version of the “mother-of-the-groom” gown.

My mother keeps telling me to “shut up, shell out, show up, and wear beige.” While she might be right, I won’t be wearing navy, black, or beige on the Big Day. I may only be playing a supporting role, but this new dress will be worthy of joining the others in my wardrobe of memories.

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