Apparently, when girls are growing up, between loving the colour pink and scheming to steal their father away from their mother, they dream of a wedding dress.
I say ‘apparently’ because I have no real reference point for this statement. My mother says she can’t remember when she grew up because that would actually involve her having to pinpoint an actual decade and she gave up on that kind of pointless mental activity round about the time she turned 35.
Meanwhile, my sister says that, thanks to our mother, she had such a traumatic childhood it would take decades of repressed childhood therapy to dig up anything useful from that period let alone any recollection of any dreams of wedding dresses. And besides, she always says, men are scum, so why would anyone want to have anything to do with them let alone have a wedding with them? “Let alone in a wedding dress!” she will add, somewhat unnecessarily.
But I have it on good authority – ie, my two psychotic flatmates – that most normal girls, with relatively normal parents and a normal childhood, grow up dreaming of a wedding dress.
Apparently, girls don’t dream of the actual wedding, or the groom, or the wedding banquet, or even the stacks of ang pows piling up on the reception desk. Which is really weird because if I ever knew that a load of money in shiny glossy red packets was in my future, money would be all I would dream about. But then, girls are just strange. They don’t care about these practical things. Because as my mother once asked my fifteen year old sister with penetrating insight, “Do you think a wedding just pays for itself?” after Michelle announced that even if the Prince of England proposed to her, she would reject him.
But, no, girls don’t think about such things. They just dream of the wedding dress. And it’s usually a big fat fluffy white puff ball of a dress that makes the girl look like a collapsed soufflé.
“I don’t know what it is,” Amanda sighed at a recent dinner at home. She paused mid-twirl of her spaghetti and looked up at the ceiling. “Maybe it’s the whole romance of the dress and what it represents, you know? I mean, my parents always had a framed picture of their wedding in their bedroom and I grew up looking at that picture. My father looked so dashing in his suit and my mother…my God, my mother!” Amanda actually put her hand on her chest and sighed. “She was radiant! Even in that black and white picture, she was radiant! And I wanted to be her!”
From the other end of the table, Saffy snorted. “Me, too!” she snuffled into her spaghetti. “Your father was a hottie! What? Why are you looking at me like that? I’m just saying!”
Maybe little girls dream about wedding dresses for the same reason they love fairy tales like Snow White, Sleeping Beauty and Cinderella. That collapsed soufflé represents the idea of happiness which, in turn, represents the safety and comfort of home. Because isn’t a wedding supposed to be the happiest day of your life?
“Not for me, it wasn’t,” my mother said when I asked her. “I was five months pregnant with you when I got married to your father and I was petrified I wouldn’t be able to fit into that stupid dress! You were a big baby. I always thought you’d grow up to be fat like your Third Uncle. Thank God, you didn’t. Your sister, on the other hand…”
The other day, Amanda came home with a bundle of wedding magazines. “That whole discussion about wedding dresses the other night got me all wistful!” she told me with an accusing look. “The check out girl at Borders actually asked me when I was getting married. I had to make up a date, otherwise I would have looked like such a loser buying a stack of wedding magazines when I don’t even have a boyfriend!”
That evening, she curled up on the sofa flipping through page after page of cakes, wedding favours, to-do lists, decorating tips and dresses. Every so often, she’d murmur, “Mmm, that’s lovely!”, her fingers tracing the outlines of a dress on the smooth glossy page. And I’d catch the same look on her face she had when she was describing her mother’s wedding picture
I sent Saffy a text message: “Amanda is acting all weird. She’s reading a stack of wedding magazines and talking to herself!”
Saffy replied: “SHUT UP! I’m in a wedding boutique actually TRYING ON a wedding dress!”