Sunday, February 15, 2009

zen bride meets ms scarlet harlot

Two sides of my nature square up against each other. Make that three. Well, its not that they're flexing muscles or anything. No, they just sit across the table and flirt. Making bashful eyelashes as each tries to seduce the other to her point of view.

I see it for the consumer folly it is: the magazines, the venues, the must-haves. Its a massive industry, a money making racket. Your day won't be perfect without a frothing of flowers, without special little confetti baskets to hang on the back of the chairs, hair like this, eyelashes like that, more swarovski crystal than falls out the sky in a typical Joburg hailstorm, and then of course, The Cake.
Not to mention, above all, The Dress.

I'm not into All That, she insists. When I was 13 years old I knew the perfect wedding was under a canopy of cathedral mopane*, barefoot, with a combretum pod circle around us, and me riding in (and off) on a motorbike.

Its about the words, she says, and getting that right. The sacredness of a simple declaration of where we are now, after all this time, with our nearest and dearest blessing us. Those who have already helped us get as far as we have. And thanking them, and having a big celebratory slap up meal with lots of dancing.

And yet, and yet...

Somehow, somewhere, the canonical bridal mythology has seeped in. Watch out. That archetype will get you.

No, no, horror - not frills and merangue. Believe me, not that.
I seek a streamlined, minimal profile. You will not catch me looking like one of those crocheted doily dollies they put over the toilet roll. (Zimbabweans of a certain era - you know who you are). Bustle schmussle. Not me.


So we think of the clean lines, and yes, a simple silhouette - white, or ivory. No fuss, no beading or sequins or satin roses or tulle or diamante tiaras. (and I swore I wasn't even going to look at those magazines).

So I go to Lunar, because they are by far my favourite clothing designers in the city, with a clean, grounded aesthetic and an environmentally friendly outlook. I try on a simple linen affair, which is lovely. (or is it too austere?). But like the good saleslady she is, the designer asks me to try on something else - a luxuriant waterfall of duchess silk. Not frothy, not merangue. But definitely sensuous (nay, delicious). Still, feels wrong for the venue, the occasion (which is outdoors, on a farm called Tonglen, with bristling bushes underfoot). It will no doubt be expensive. And the practical girl in me says get a dress you will wear again. Come on.

And then there's that other lass, the one who woke up this morning and said, no, no white wedding for me. Give me blood red robes, and a trashy hit-list and the motor bike.

I have constructed an entire mythology around my red dress chronicles, it seems. Stories that are all based on real events involving several red dresses. There was the skinhugging one of Yeoville days, circa 1994. There was a long flowing one of simple cotton that I wore day and night, to lectures, rehearsals, parties. I slept in it and woke in it. It was a damn fine dress. I've warbled on about the red dress stuff before. Its about sexuality and wildness and freedom and life force. All issues that have surfaced with B and I at various points in our journey. Maybe the unfinished business here is really that I need to compile that collection properly and put it in print.

In the simple terms of nineteenth century literature, and whatever other Jungian and Myssian and what have you ideas that came after, I suppose the archetypes that square up across the table are these: the virgin, the princess and the whore. I am none of these, but there they are: these three fine ladies, sitting across the table from one another, with their cool aloof smiles.

What fun. I wonder who will win?

Cathedral mopane: when mopane trees in forest reach a certain maturity they form a canopy of vaulted arches like a cathedral. I couldn't find a picture.


Angela said...

Wow! What decisions to take! I never even THOUGHT of all those chances - a red dress, under a mopane tree, arriving on a motor bike...haha, Me too, I wonder who will win! And I am ever sorry I can`t witness in person, but I want trillions of photos!

Anonymous said...

Oh, this is going to be fun watching it all evolve into the very day. Keep the unfolding ideas and drama coming!

Tessa said...

Will it be Zen? No, no...methinks Ms Scarlet. Or maybe not. But it will be floaty and delicious and memorable. And very definitely Tam!

Humpf, I sound like I know you well. I don't. Not really. But I do, in a way which many Africans 'know' their brothers and sisters. Weet jy?

Don't forget, in the midst of all the decision making, to choose a pic for the loo!

Janelle said...

hey sweetness....ho hum, i see you in deep red wine, crushed velvet...medievil...yes at always xxx j

Lori ann said...

Tam, love, of course you will have them all(the ladies), they are all you. You'll find the right dress that'll be a perfect balance, and the words you say, they'll be from the deepest part of your heart and so very right. Take what you will from each part of this wedding planning, and choose only what suits you and your husband~to~be, and remember why you're doing it all. LOVE this time.
love, lori

Shiny said...

Ooo, how exciting. It was SO lovely to see you on Saturday, and under such happy circumstances. I, luckily, managed to avoid the tequila too! I think you should have two dresses. One in red, one in beautiful pale bridely shades x

tam said...

Angela, we are doing it on a farm that has no mopane trees, so that's that one out! Ah, yes, the photographer, the photographer!! Don't worry, you'll get pics.

Rob, I'm glad you've sanctioned a bit of public stressing and drama-ing!

Tessa, ja, ek weet mos! And I will send you a mail shortly.

Janelletjie, I've had similar visions. But they change, yes they do.

Lori, thank you, your words are stilling and just what I need to hear right now. "Remember why you're doing it all." Oh yes, that seems to be the brides downfall, getting lost in the detail.

Shiny, you could be right, I mean I need to honour my theatrical nature too, right? What better way than with several costume changes!!

Absolute Vanilla (and Atyllah) said...

Red, I'm all for the red dress - of course, I'm biased - I wore a red dress just last year - but then it was second time round and the divine goddesses were frolicking.
Never mind Jungian and Myssian, perhaps try The New Earth for further inspiration! ;-)

Good luck with it all and above - just have fun!

tam said...

Hi Vanilla!! Tolle is wonderful inspiration indeed. And I do hope the goddesses will be frolicking in Dullstroom in April.

Reya Mellicker said...

Weddings are big, really big. Not where you live, but here and in Europe, they are some of the last culturally approved rituals. So you should fuss and fuss and wonder about every detail of the ceremony. It's right and proper. It's respectful.


really fun for all of us to read about. I too am wondering what you'll decide to wear.


Miranda said...

ooooh what fun. It'll be divine whatever you wear. Except maybe a hessian sack. That'd be itchy

Jeannie said...

Can't you have it all? Be the bride in the waterfall dress (which sounds exquisite) and leave the party later (MUCH later! Don't let anyone throw you out of your own party!) on a motorbike wearing the most fantastically scarlet creation you can find? In fact, stage your whole "leaving now, toss bouquet, let old relatives slip off to bed without feeling they've broken wedding etiquette" thing, then quickly change into your red dress and ride back IN to your own party and dance the night away :-)

Sjoe. I'm getting much too carried away! Absolutely love the idea of the different sides of you siting around a table with each other! Have fun planning - it really is the words and the reason behind it that you'll remember both on the day and forever after.

Miranda said...

Next update please!

tam said...

You guys are fantastic. The verdict has been made: its a simple but very beautiful ivory empire line - chiffon and floaty. I am happy with it, and I can have it died in any colour I want later to re-wear (yes, it is an issue, that, especially given what these garments cost. I can't do that fork out a fortune thing for a dress i will wear once. This one will have many guises yet, which is what I love about it. Oscars, here I come.)

tam said...

And Jeannie, lovely visions - but I am going for the keep it simple routine, given all the other logistics i have to contend with.
So Zen wins after all. But scarlet will have her moments, you can be sure of that...