My dearest friend, Collette, is getting married on Christmas Eve. We’ve known each other since college. Once, when she was in a fit of being twenty and seriously considering a mohawk, I gave her an Edie Sedgwick pixie cut with kitchen scissors. At twenty-three, I drove from Illinois to Minnesota to visit her for a weekend, and while she was at work, I fell so madly in love with her chosen home that I rented an apartment before she returned. She didn’t even bat an eye. All to say: she’s my ride or die. She’s getting married, so December of 2020 has hereby been renamed: Operation Give Collette Whatever She Needs.
Now, because this is a pandemic, and we cannot scheme in person, much of our scheming has taken place over FaceTime from the safety and comfort of our respective homes, both of us pajama-clad lumps on sofas. A few nights ago, her fiancé, Michael, joined us. Collette wore a knit cap indoors. Michael’s cheeks were pink with coziness, and what he described as “a wee bit o’ whiskey.” He’d ordered himself a suit, and now the dilemma was: should he wear a red turtleneck or a green turtleneck for his Christmas wedding?
“Hang on,” I asked. “Can you get some good lighting?”
She shone the camera on his face as he sat in front of a lamp.
“I think green, right? If your cheeks turn pinkish, and you wear red, it might be a sea of red.”
He nodded, possibly in agreement, possibly to placate me. The conversation was then drawn short when a distracted Collette let the camera drift dangerously close to his nostrils. We left it at that.
The pajamas and distraction and casualness of the conversation might offer the impression that the color of the turtleneck didn’t really matter to Michael. That impression would be incorrect. From the moment they got engaged, he’s been brainstorming about his outfit. His ideas have been mostly fanciful and costume-like, and some of them include blousy shirts that might make him look like Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean. We’ve teased him about this mercilessly. Partly because of the choice, but I think, too, because it seems so against-type for a groom to be invested in his outfit.
I know that this engagement certainly has me leaning hard on bride-centric wedding stereotypes. After all, this is Operation Whatever Collette Needs.
If she wants to get married on Christmas, my family can deal with my absence. If I need to quarantine beforehand and get a COVID test (both requirements for attending), my Pilates clients will just have to see me via Zoom. If she wants it, she gets it. And jeez, it’s fun. I love making a big to do about her wedding. I love it! If anybody in this world deserves celebration, it’s her. As the resident wedding-crazed best friend, my personal worst case scenario would be that anything takes place that isn’t Exactly Perfect. This is the neurotic impulse that pulled me from my bed later on the night of that phone call to send the following text:
The thought of his being too matchy-matchy or of his clashing with her outfit, or in any way not deferring to her outfit, was so distressing to me that I literally got out of bed to text him. (Admittedly, it was 8:45 pm. I go to bed early. Baby needs her beauty rest.) This, after I’d suggested he wear green, because his cheeks would be red from cold and the green would be more flattering.
This, to a man who’s been completely comfortable in expressing a desire for his outfit to feel special, to feel like something you might only wear to a wedding. Now, you don’t know Collette or Michael. (Or maybe you do. Hi Mom! Hi Dad!) They’re about as progressive as any cisgendered hetero couple I know. As for me, I usually prefer to shirk gender expectations wherever possible. But not, apparently, now. Now, my philosophy is, apparently, who cares about the underlying reason: it’s fun. Enjoy. Take pleasure.
Merry Season of Collette, everybody.