White dresses

pomp and circumstance and sideburns

This is me at my debutante ball. I’d designed my dress, trying to emulate Princess Diana’s wedding dress. This was only a few years after her wedding, and like the rest of the world I was deeply invested in the fairytale.

Years later, I went to school in England for a bit, and my roommates and I stalked her brother all over Oxford. Some time later I thought I’d marry an Englishman, until I realized that the Atlantic is really very very wide. I was vacationing in England when Diana was killed in Paris; in a truly surreal moment, my sisters and I came down to breakfast at our B&B in the Cotswolds and wandered into a roomful of Englishmen sobbing quietly into their morning coffee. My parents were in London on 9/11; after a few days’ delay they travelled home, and their plane flew low over the smoldering wreckage of the twin towers.

England has always fascinated me. She’s tried and tried to show me that life isn’t really a fairytale. I’m pretty sure Kate Middleton gets that, far better than Diana Spencer did. I’m pretty sure all of England gets that, even as they line the streets and wave their flags. I’m pretty sure the world gets that, even as 2 billion of us tune in to see The Dress.

My husband thinks it’s all so silly, and I suppose it is, but then again I don’t understand the Super Bowl, and people tune in to that every year. The appeal of many cultural whoop-de-do’s escapes me: Times Square on New Years, collecting autographs, the World Series.

Maybe they’re really all saying the same thing, that sometimes we just need to let go of real life and be dazzled. Enjoy the pageantry. Giggle at the frippery. Revel in the noise and the costumes.

Because, sometimes, can’t it just be about The Dress?

Published in: on April 29, 2011 at 5:08 AM  Leave a Comment  

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