Wedding shoes arrived today. And boy oh boy, how excited was I? I was as excited and as jumpy-uppy-downy as I was the first time I made butter in 2012. And, as with my juvenile, uncontrollable, buttery excitement, I just had to share it with someone. The someone closest in proximity was Mr TGTBT and as shoes is not dress I made an executive decision to share my shoe joy with the Groom to Be.
Shoe joy reminds me of a little story in Idle Thoughts of an Idle Fellow by Jerome K Jerome: when asked by a little girl (described as two-feet-ten of conceit and vanity) what he thinks of her new shoes, he gushes over them with what he refers to as ‘degrading effusiveness’, having learnt that plain speaking in such situations is ill-advised.
So. How does five-feet-ten-and-a-bit of conceit and vanity grab you? Possibly by the throat if degrading enthusiasm isn’t immediately forthcoming. Mr TGTBT by now may be wishing he had been a trifle more attentive to the bookshelves and chanced upon Idle Thoughts of Idle Fellow somewhat sooner. There was not even a whiff of degrading effusiveness. No excitment. No flattery or unbounded enthusiasm. He merely – but bravely – mustered a smile. ‘Twas a smile that looked more like he’d overdone the mustard, his eyes refusing in one of those pointed blank manners to get with the programme. All ocular integrity, stoically maintaining their horrified honesty.
Six-foot-and-a-bit of effort and ill-disguised WTF gazed at my noo shooz for what must have felt like a lifetime. “Nice.” That is what I think he finally managed to say. If he didn’t I am sure it was something as equally anodyne, if somewhat less memorable. And then his gaze dared to meet mine.
What can I say. I nearly pee’d myself with laughter. Bless his little cottons he was trying so hard to share in my shoe joy he didn’t notice that it didn’t matter that he couldn’t. When joy of any description is that fundamental no amount of rain can ruin the parade. True joy comes from deep within – and no, this wasn’t five-feet-ten-and-a-bit of conceit or vanity but five-feet-etcetera of bride-ditherer who finally found something that was about something more than keeping everyone else happy.
You see the difficulty is, everything I want to write about this pre-wedding journey is stuff I can’t write about. Because it’s all secret squirrel. I can’t tell you about the dress, because Mr TGTBT always reviews the blog to check if his TGTBT stock levels are moving up or down; I can’t tell you about the invitations because some of you won’t get one and if you wanted one that would be like, well, insensitive I guess. And if the truth of it is that no-one actually wants one then I’ll feel like a prize prat; I can’t talk about the bridesmaids, the music, the cake, the flowers, the order of service or the wedding breakfast menu as it will ruin the fun for those of you who, despite yourselves, have agreed to join us for the day. I can’t talk about the pointless squabbles, the familial politics or the ever-so-bloody-hilarious tantrums in public places, because a retrospective on foolishness would more likely serve only to create more.
Even talking about weddingy things to family and friends puts me on tenterhooks in case I forget myself and say/reveal/do something I shouldn’t, thereby managing to break every written and unwritten rule surrounding matrimonial events. And there an awful lot of rules which, when applied to other peoples’ weddings, I would regard as ‘tradition’ or ‘etiquette’ or just plain old-fashioned good manners. Applied to my (our) wedding it feels like someone is always watching and listening, ready to tut-tut at me when I get it wrong. This nerviness of spirit is contrary to my more natural inclination to not give a stuff: because I do give a stuff. A very big bit of stuff as it happens.
This big bit of stuff that I give is, I think, oddly more to do with everyone else and not me. Which seeing as I get to be Queen for a day strikes me as the oddly bit. I am very conscious of the fact that it is my (our) wedding and yet I seem to be spending an extraordinary amount of time worrying about what everyone else would like. What would they like to eat, wear, hear? Who would they like to sit with, speak to or avoid? How will they get from A to B to C and back again?
It is difficult not to think of other people when making big decisions on dresses, cakes, venues and menus and I just continued the habit when looking for shoes. I was factoring in weather, floor types, photographs, gait, comfort and an awful lot of ‘what would MR TGTBT/Mum/Little Blister/Idiot (formerly known as Mr AppleG-hyphen-B)/et al like?’.
Sunday last, Mr TGTBT was at work and it was just me and Pipsqueak at home. Pipsqueak had been advised that as I would be busy getting stressed over inability to make decisions she would be better off doing her homework and leaving me to it. Which she duly did. Until homework was finished. I on the other hand still hadn’t made any decisions.
“What’s the matter?” ventured Pipsqueak, and I looked up to see four-feet-nine-inches of genuine concern, holding out a freshly brewed cup of tea. Pipsqueak is still of an age where life is essentially pretty simple and perspective is generally only skewed when sweets are involved, and so I explained my dilemma. I showed her my footwear selections and asked her to choose. Without hesitation she did. So I ordered them. It was that simple. In that simple moment Pipsqueak quietened the wedding clamour in my mind and reminded me of who I am. She made the perfect choice. She made the choice I would have made if I’d only listened to me.
These new arrivals may just be shoes, but they are my shoes. Well. Mine and Pipsqueak’s. They fill me with indescribable excitement and joy. Proper J.O.Y. Inner joy. Not because I am vain, conceited or a little bit shallow, but because they represent something I never expected – that four-feet-nine-inches is all took to remind me of who I am. The innocent wisdom of youth reached through the pre-nuptial chaos and showed me how to put my best foot forward.
My new shoes may not be to everyone’s liking, but they certainly are to mine. And to Pipsqueak’s. As for Mr TGTBT, well he is working on it. Which is why I love him. Which is why choosing the perfect shoes to walk down the aisle seemed such a big deal.
Yours, with only weeks to go, AJ x