The saints wanted to have a word with me.
In the past year, Mr. Hockey and I have been to four weddings. There was a post-covidian explosion of love. And because I hadn’t been to a wedding since 2018, I was like, sure, I’ll drive 8 hours to celebrate your union, drink your booze, and bribe your DJ to play “Low” by Flo-Rida.
Planning our own wedding was fraught. It’s been 33 years and Mr. Hockey and I still don’t talk about that day. I’ll only say that my mother, whom I loved very much, was a formal, formidable woman. Her vision for our wedding was Windsor Palace, while ours was fraternity party. She wanted a palate cleanser between the appetizer and the main courses. We wanted a band that could play “Shout!”
Because my mother spent two years condemning our wedding choices, Mr. Hockey and I have always advised the hockey pucks to avoid the hassle of nuptial preparations and elope.
But the hockey pucks’ marriage plans are future Tracy’s problem.
Mr. Hockey and I had four weddings to attend. Three were weddings of our friends’ kids and one was for Mr. Hockey’s work colleague. We needed to prepare.
Or, more accurately, I needed to prepare. Mr. Hockey doesn’t prepare for parties. He puts on a suit and shows up.
Meanwhile, the minute I have an inkling that I might be invited to a wedding sometime in the future, I’m on the hunt for an outfit. I’m grilling the mother of the bride about the dress code. I’m reading between the lines on the bride and groom’s Zola website.
My goal? A long dress.
This is because I have no cartilage in my knees, and I want to wear sneakers.
You read that correctly, I want to wear sneakers to a formal event. And a long dress hides the sin of inappropriate footwear.
My mother would not approve.
At wedding No. 1, my friend, the mother of the groom, planned to put a tent over the tennis court in her backyard, so I thought, why not sneakers? Heels are painful to bad knees and flats give them no support.
I wouldn’t wear the gym shoes I wear for workouts or to the King Kullen. I bought myself a pair of cute, white kicks – as the Gen Z youth refers to them.
No one noticed at the wedding. Until I drunkenly stuck my foot out and said, “Look! I’m wearing sneakers!”
Every woman said, “I wish I’d thought of that.”
Weddings 2 and 3, were in an elegant barn in Charlottesville and a hotel ballroom in Cleveland, respectively. Both took place in early spring when it was still chilly. To both I wore a short, floral dress, tights, and black patent leather brogues. Not sneakers but loads of support.
At the Ukrainian Orthodox church in Cleveland, with saints painted on the ceiling, I admit I felt a little underdressed in my black school shoes.
Then I had an epiphany! In the church! Where I’m told epiphanies can happen!
As the Orthodox saints looked down from on high, they proclaimed, “It Doesn’t Matter What You Wear to A Wedding.”
“Pardon me?” I responded in perfect Ukrainian. Did you know you can speak any language during an epiphany?
“Who even are you?” the saints asked.
“I’m just the wife of a work colleague of the groom.”
“Exactly,” replied the saints. “And at your other weddings you are just the friend of the parents. People care only about the bride, the bridesmaids and maybe the mothers. They’ll be in the pictures. You, as a woman of a certain age, are practically invisible. It’s like a superpower! No one will be looking at you or your feet. You could wear roller skates.”
Except I couldn’t because my knees are shot.
I thanked the saints and they said, “You’re welcome. Maybe don’t drunkenly show the kicks to everyone.”
These saints were up on their Gen Z slang.
Wedding No. 4 was for a close friend’s daughter. Black tie.
At the bridal shower I told my dear friend my footwear plan. She said, “You’re not.”
We were college roommates, so we speak in a kind of code. I’ll translate. By “You’re not,” she meant, “You won’t wear sneakers and ruin the year’s long work it took me to create the most beautiful day of my daughter’s life.”
When I responded, “I am,” I meant, “Don’t worry! I’ll look fine. The dress will hide the shoes. I’ll wear the good jewelry. Besides, I have it on good authority no one will be looking at me or my feet.”
The saints weren’t mentioned in our coded conversation. They would have gotten lost in the translation.
The saints were right. No one noticed my sneakers at wedding No. 4. Until I drunkenly stuck out my foot and said, “Look!”
Despite our sage counsel advising the hockey pucks to elope, a puck could choose to have a big wedding. Obviously, it’ll be fantastic. I didn’t grow up under the tutelage of a woman who recommended palate cleansers at a lunchtime wedding in Tarrytown without learning how to throw a banger.
But, according to the saints, as the mother-of-the-puck, my superpower won’t work. People will be looking at me and I’ll be in at least three photos. I may have to rethink my shoe choice.
Or the dress code might be “Wear your best kicks.”
Please don’t tell my mother.
Published in The East Hampton Press on September 8, 2022.
Photo by Me!!