Personal Statement

Personal Statement

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Back In the Day

Occasionally, I am reminded that I have been around for a (relatively) long time.

Like, when I look at the ring finger on my left hand, it occasionally registers in my brain that my wedding rings are set in yellow gold - not white gold or platinum.  Spouse has asked multiple times if I would like an "upgrade," and each time I tell him no - he designed my rings himself, from scratch, so I am rather partial to the settings, and I am oddly partial to the yellow gold, because it pretty much screams, "I got engaged in 1995, when wedding rings typically were yellow." 

In 1995, you didn't announce your engagement on Facebook or Instagram, because those things did not exist.  Cell phones weren't a common thing, either, so when Not-Yet-Spouse made the rookie mistake of attempting to rendezvous with my best friend "under Big Tex" just prior to the proposal (we got engaged at the Texas State Fair on Texas/OU Weekend), and when we were unable to locate her in the ginormous crowd of people who also were attempting to connect with other people "under Big Tex" (surprise!), there was no calling her and triangulating to her location.  Spouse just had to go forward without her, and she got the details of the proposal afterwards - when we both could get to a land line.

There weren't save-the-date cards, either, and engagement photos were optional.  If you took them, they certainly didn't involve multiple changes of clothing, or chalkboards with cute sayings written on them.  The late 1990's were remarkably chalkboard-free.  No chalkboards at the reception, or mason jars, or tissue poms.  Back then, you said it with flowers - lots of them.  No photo booths or props, either:  we were considered high-tech for putting disposable cameras on the tables.  (Some of the house party and other law school friends did take it upon themselves to snap photos in the bathroom through the mirror - the first-ever experiment with mirror selfies, maybe?  They also took close-up shots of the food - a precursor to the food porn shots that are now a dime a dozen on social media.)

Also, in 1996, cakes were CAKES - they weren't cake-shaped objects formed out of other baked goods, like cupcakes or macarons.  Our first cupcake cake sighting was in 1999, and I remember saying to Spouse, "Wow, why didn't we think of that?"  (Answer:  Pinterest didn't exist back then.)  My wedding cake was considered cutting-edge because it was asymmetrical and did not feature sugar roses.  Spouse's groom's cake was considered cutting-edge because HE ACTUALLY HAD A GROOM'S CAKE.  Believe it or not, groom's cakes were optional back then - and if you had one, it was chocolate, and it had strawberries on it.  (Fortunately, Spouse really likes chocolate-covered strawberries.)

Then I got pregnant with our first, and the only options that I had for maternity wear were Motherhood Maternity or JC Penney's.  (It was a BIG DEAL when Old Navy came out with maternity clothes shortly before we had the Little Kid - boy, did I go buck-wild on the ON Web site.)   We opted not to learn Big Kid's gender prior to his birth, which meant our choices of layette items were "teddy bear" or "duck," in a palette of either pale yellow or mint green.  (Had we known that he was a boy, our theme options would have expanded to include "truck," and pale blue would have been a third color option.)  There was really only one place to buy baby stuff, and that was Babies R Us.  I felt very avant garde for having ordered his bed linens (pale yellow, with some brights mixed in) online - how very forward-thinking of me.

Chevron hadn't been invented yet.  Well, actually it had been invented, but we called it flamestitch, and it never occurred to us to use it in a kid's room.  And it certainly never occurred to us to paint a kid's room gray, or stencil a monogram on the wall.

Photographers did not travel to your home with a shabby chic armchair, crocheted cocoon and knit stocking cap in tow, to capture images of your precious three day-old infant in his/her natural environment.  There was one - ONE! - photographer who had figured out that parents might like to have their babies photographed at home, and he had also figured out how to position a small baby to look like the baby could hold up his or her own head.  Unlike today's photogs, though, he insisted on photographing Propped Baby WHEN PROPPED BABY WAS ACTUALLY AWAKE.  No sweet photos of a baby in a six foot-long stocking cap with hands squished under the face and eyes squeezed shut.  Nope, had Propped Baby drifted off, Photog would have tickled Propped Baby's foot.  Because, back then, we were kind of obsessed with capturing images of our children with their eyes open. 

Cutting-Edge Baby Photog had two props - a blue blanket and a pink blanket - and zero lighting equipment.  He used the natural lighting in your home, which means that all of the photos from our session were ridiculously dark - but, still, we thought that they were the coolest thing ever.  And, as I am typing this, I am wondering if Friend Leslie and Friend Laura still display their photos taken at around the same time by the same guy.  If they do have them out, I could immediately point them out to you based on (1) the blanket and (2) the awful lighting.

Big Kid did not have a smash cake on his first birthday.  He had a smash slice.  (Little Kid did have a smash cake, but it was an afterthought - I picked up a petit four while I was fetching the main cake, meaning THE TWO CAKES DIDN'T EVEN MATCH.  Yes, Little Kid survived.)  We did not recreate the cake-smash in a photographer's studio, and the only wardrobe change on either kid's birthday was impromptu (post-cake).  When Big Kid turned one, your only "official first birthday photo" options were to have your child pose in a giant gift box, next to a giant number one, at Picture People . . . or pose in a giant gift box, next to a giant number one, at Sears Portrait Studio . . . or pose in a giant gift box, next to a giant number one, at Penney's.

Today, when I look at photos of artfully arranged artisanal cheese buffets at wedding receptions, or professional pictures of infants and their older siblings cuddling in monogrammed-out-the-wazoo nurseries, I find myself initially wishing that those concepts existed back in the day.  But then I run across a photo of me in my meringue-esque wedding dress (I only had one dress, by the way - no separate reception dress for dancing, just a hook on the back to bustle the train), or in a really unflattering navy pinstriped maternity pantsuit, and I think, "Wow, Spouse and I predate - well, basically everything trendy," and that makes me happy.  And then I run across a photo of the boys in yawningly boring baby clothes, photographed in front of dated studio backgrounds (or, WORSE, PHOTOGRAPHED BY MOM OR DAD WITH A FILM CAMERA!), and I think, "I have a fourteen year-old and a nine year-old," and as scary as that thought is, it's also, really, amazingly cool.

And so I choose to wear my uncoolness like a badge of honor.  A yellow gold one, festooned with mint green duckies.


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