Gold satin. Bejeweled, silver-lined pink organza. Cream ruffles. A red A-line. Lavender frills. A sparkling green Filipiniana. Coral chiffon.
Dresses. More specifically, dresses I’ve worn as part of a bridal entourage. Between a family as big as two or more NFL teams (my mom is one of 14 and my dad is one of seven…average 2-3 kids apiece and let’s not even think about counting the second cousins) and friends settling down to wedded bliss like dominoes, I’m almost certain there are at least a handful of dresses that have yet to be added to my collection.
They say when it rains, it pours. Lately, this seems to be particularly true of weddings.
A few years ago, Sarah got married. As she was the first in that particular group of girlfriends to do so, it was a momentous occasion. So much so, in fact, that it seemed everyone wanted to experience it for themselves. The following year turned into a wedding blitz: Sendy got married in March; Ksenija got married in April; Andrea got married in April; Sanda got engaged in May.
This year, in a different circle of friends, it seems to be happening again. Minnie got engaged in January. Mercedes got married in April. Jiya got married just last weekend (hence, the inspiration for this post). Throw in a few more weddings in the not too-distant past…Abigail, Richie, Scott, Lory, Joe, Sudhi, Lanie…and I’m beginning to think, “Gosh, am I behind schedule?”
Certainly, I’m simply at an age where my peers are finding that person. But people are living longer, and consequently, starting families at a later age. I also live in an area where career is often a higher priority. Given this, shouldn’t society back off a bit on the marriage/offspring expectations?
It seems the most popular questions have changed from the civil “How are you?” and “Where do you work now?” into more probing “So, when’s it your turn?” or “One more down. Who’s next in line?” That latter question is frequently accompanied by eyebrow wiggles or head turns towards the addressee – in this case, me. You know the pressure is coming down when even your ever-indulgent lola (Filipino for grandmother) says, “It’s time to select.” Select what, exactly? A book? A new car? A vacation destination? I can’t sass my lola, however, so I smile politely. She and my mother must be lamenting my generation’s voluntary singledom again. Here’s an actual conversation I had with mother dearest when I was last home:
Mom: Don’t you want kids?
Me: [Pause for shock. Well, that came out of nowhere.] Can you ask me again in five years?
Mom: Five years?!?
Me: Ok, ok, how about three years?
Mom: I shouldn’t even have to ask!
Me: Are you looking for kids to babysit? Maybe you’ll have better luck with my sister. I’m not giving you a retirement excuse yet.
The whole family is in on the gossip. During last year’s holiday festivities, an uncle made a comedic speech, joking that my cousins* and I had started a new group called Singles for Life. We all laughed. It would have been funnier were not all the aunties vocally fearful about us becoming old maids. My uncles were free to enjoy bachelorhood at least a decade beyond my current age. As a member of modern society, can I ask why men are not stigmatized the way women are under the same circumstances?
Ironically, those eye-roll-inducing, mood-killing, “When are you getting married?” questions do nothing to spur us reluctant youth on. Cath often declares, without reserve, she’s got a few years of fight still left in her. I’m in no particular rush either. We habitually retort that the younger girls should forge ahead – i.e. they shouldn’t feel the need to follow the age hierarchy as the wait period is indeterminable.
Now that that’s been aired out, I’ll confess to an offhand comment I made to Cath some months ago: I’ve a strange feeling that once one of us does get married (one, meaning one of the eldest 4 girls in our cousinhood), it will start a domino effect. She responded with a quick, somewhat pensive, “Ha! …Actually, I think so too.” This was followed by a teasing warning not to start the dominoes falling over. And so, the wedding domino effect looms overhead, eagerly waiting to claim its next domino bachelorette.
*After the eldest cousin (male and, as of a couple of years ago, married), there is a succession of females. Cath and I are the same age, the next 2 are a year younger than us, and the next two are a year younger than that.