61: Young at Heart

61: Young at Heart

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Here Comes the Bride

Young at Heart

Nostalgia is a file that removes the rough edges from the good old days.

~Doug Larson

My long-time friend Janice arrived at our girls-only luncheon grinning like the Cheshire Cat. Extending her left hand, she announced, “Look who’s engaged.”

In her late fifties and divorced for more than twenty years, she’d finally met a great man. We were ecstatic. She deserved to be happy. Everyone congratulated Janice as they checked out her beautiful engagement ring and quizzed her about the wedding.

“What color are our dresses?” I teased.

Another girlfriend chimed in, “I look good in black.”

“Remember, we’re all blondes now,” one quipped.

The following weekend, I watched the movie 27 Dresses about a woman who was always a bridesmaid, never a bride. Twenty-seven gowns, ranging from hilarious to downright ugly, hung in her closet as a constant reminder.

A few weeks later, I called some of the gals and suggested we throw Janice a shower asking guests to wear bridesmaid dresses. Enthusiasm bubbled, but there was just one big problem. Even if anyone had kept the gowns we’d worn in weddings years ago, there was only a slim chance we’d be able to wear them now, thanks to our middle-age bodies. Dresses that no longer fit were pooled for a free-for-all. Everyone eyed the formals, hoping they’d be able to squeeze into one. Some browsed garage sales, while others checked out resale shops. One found hers at Goodwill.

Who needs the Academy Awards to make a fashion statement? The day of the shower, ladies paraded in wearing long gowns and sporting beehives and bouffant hairstyles, charm bracelets jingling from their arms. Suddenly, our days as bridesmaids didn’t seem all that long ago. Conversation turned to styles we’d been asked to wear in weddings that even a model couldn’t have pulled off.

Guests were asked to choose the prettiest dress, the ugliest, the shortest, and the tightest. The southern belle ensemble that used more material than Scarlett O’Hara’s green velvet gown won hands down for the prettiest. The girl with the ugliest formal, shoes dyed to match, had worn it in her best friend’s wedding and insisted their friendship remained intact. A no-brainer, shortest went to the gal in a mini, but tightest was a close call. After much thought, we declared Large Marge the winner. Marge wasn’t the only one afraid to eat that second piece of cream-cheese filled cake, iced with colorful bridesmaid dresses. Most of our vintage clothing left little wiggle room; a few were held together only by safety pins.

As Janice opened gifts, Sonny and Cher crooned “I Got You Babe” softly in the background. Instead of the number of children they’d have, we warned the guest of honor that each ribbon she broke would represent how many prescriptions the newlyweds would need. Janice cautiously unwrapped each present. We’d all participated in traditional shower games once too often, so we played ones geared toward our ages. In the unscramble-the-words game, “menopause,” “Viagra” and “Depends” replaced “bride,” “groom,” and “wedding cake.”

When it came to recognizing theme songs from popular ’50s and ’60s TV shows, guests triumphed. Like Mary Tyler Moore, we knew we’d make it after all. And didn’t we all enjoy those Happy Days? The mere mention of Lucy brought gales of laughter. And like Laverne and Shirley, we’d been busy making our dreams come true.

Commercial jingles kept everyone on their toes. How many times had we wondered, “Does she or doesn’t she” use Clairol? And who wasn’t “Cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs”? Two days after the shower, I still had “See the USA in Your Chevrolet” stuck in my head like Bazooka bubblegum.

As guests departed, everyone wished Janice the best. Although we may have had to squeeze into those dresses, our shower proved we were still young at heart.

~Alice Muschany

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