Thursday, May 5, 2011

Why Couldn't I Have Been a Flower Child?

Posted By on 05.05.11 at 01:33 PM

VIA FLICKR/CHEALION
  • via Flickr/Chealion

Last Saturday’s New York Times featured a front-page photo of the royal couple driving away from their royal reception in their royal blue Aston Martin convertible. It was taken from behind the car, and when I glimpsed the photo, for a moment I thought, Cool! The Duchess is driving! Then I remembered that the steering wheel is on the wrong side over there.

Imagine the headlines if the Duchess really had taken the wheel for their first trip as a married couple. Think of the worldwide cultural impact such a simple act might have had.

And why couldn’t she have driven? Haven’t we left that dumb, restrictive sex-role stuff behind?

Saturday evening I attended a wedding in Evanston—the son of my best friend from college was getting married in the Alice Millar Chapel on Northwestern’s campus. My best friend’s youngest son, six-year-old Aiden, was the ring-bearer. He was all duded up in his tux and smiling ear to ear as he hurried up the long aisle with the ring on the little pillow, in his upturned hands. As he passed my pew, I thought: I wish I’d gotten to do that once; what a thrill it must be!

But I’m not sure I’d have liked the weighty responsibility. What happens if the ring-bearer slips, and the ring slides off the pillow, clatters to the floor, and rolls under a pew? A humiliation that lasts till death do you depart, that’s what. Later I learned that the ring was threaded to the pillow, as it usually is when the actual ring is used. But still—you could drop the whole pillow…

After Aiden came the flower girls, four bubbly six- to eight-year-olds in pink dresses, scattering petals from their little baskets. And I thought: No, that's what I wish I’d gotten to do. There’s the sensual delight of the petals themselves—the feel and scent; and the virtuous feeling that you’re softening the path for the bride and her escort. With much less pressure: if you slip, and let the petals flutter to the floor—that’s where they were supposed to go.

But, of course, I could not have been a flower girl—or even a flower child—for the same reason the Duchess couldn’t drive off from her reception with the Duke merely riding shotgun.

There were more than 32,000 weddings in Cook County last year. Certainly a fair number of these had formal ceremonies. I’m guessing—hoping—a few girls have gotten to be ring-bearers here in recent years. Please tell us in a comment if you’re aware of one. But a male flower child? Too radical, I suppose.

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