I have mastered drone parenting. Not to be confused with helicopter parenting, I don’t swoop in, but assist as possible with drone drops on our son through the miracle of the internet and the immediacy of social media and messaging.
Years ago, 31 to be exact, when Jimmie and I got engaged, I made plans to go home to my grandparents’ for a weekend, to have a fitting of my grandmother’s wedding dress. It was a beautiful ivory, butter satin 1920’s mermaid style dress, cut on the bias, with a two foot long train, and about fifteen tiny, ivory satin-covered buttons beginning at my slim hips and parading all the way up my side.
Theatre artists appreciate the value of previously worn costumes, and what is a wedding dress but a once-worn costume from a very special performance? I felt so fortunate to have access to this beautiful gown, and was looking forward to the fitting.
Jimmie and I had determined that we would be married at the little Episcopalian church around the corner from our apartment. Neither of us was particularly religious, but we found an Episcopalian minister to officiate. We met with her, discussed our vows, and had begun planning our reception at Paulson’s, a local restaurant with a cabaret space above it.
My weekend trip to the homestead in Wilkes-Barre was expressly for fitting the dress, but it was also the first time I had been home since we had announced our engagement. I had attended my brother Larry and his wife Barbara’s wedding in San Francisco with my Mom and grandparents. When I returned, I was flush with affection for Jimmie, without whom I had been almost a week. The actual asking had been mutual. I was telling him about the wedding, while sitting on his well-worn sofa in the Upper West Side apartment, draped with a cat in each of our laps. After sharing the details of the wedding we simultaneously blurted out
We should get married, don’t you think? or
Do you think we will get married one day?
Or something like that. I should remember an important moment like that much more clearly. You probably consider it careless of me to have lost the details; in my later years, this moment may clarify while the details of this week’s tech and opening will probably shuffle off into the mists.
Cut to a month later as we feverishly planned our wedding for September 1st. It was early in June, and having returned from the church after meeting with the minister, Jimmie quietly produced a little velvet box from his jacket pocket, opening it to reveal a beautiful single diamond set in a gold setting.
I thought it was important for you to have this before you went home this weekend, he said, tenderly taking my hands in his and slipping the ring onto my left hand.
How did he know that the timing was so crucial? I didn’t care about the ring, but my Mom and grandparents would see it as an affirmation that this actor I loved would be able to support me.
I wanted to do everything I could to help with a similar reveal for Chris and Whitney prior to her return home for the baby shower. Several weeks ago, Chris and I began the surreptitious planning of the ring. We have the good fortune of having jewelers in the family, in our spiritual family. Having a family jeweler beats having a family plumber for sure. Our former neighbors, Hala and Michel Nehme have a jewelry stall on Hill and 6th Street in Downtown LA. Chris encouraged me to be his proxy shopper, so Jimmie and I went over to their shop and perused the rings, sending photos of a few to Chris before returning home to wait to see if he liked any of our options.
Chris selected a very pretty ring and then it was up to me to get it to him in time to give it to Whitney before she left for the baby shower.
Hmmmm. How to package it? I thought about sending it in a box of brownies.
Don’t do that. Whitney likes brownies and she’ll open the box.
What about sending it in a box of your old playstation games?
That sounds good. She’ll never expect that.
The heavily inked UPS store employees didn’t flinch when I insured the box of Playstation parts for over a grand.
There’s an engagement ring in there, I explained lamely.
All was swell, except that as soon as I sent the box, I discovered that Chris was going out of town for the weekend with the hockey team he coaches, and wasn’t going to be home for the box to arrive.
Tell Whitney I sent you a box of playstation games.
It was kinda funny explaining it to whit because she was like “but we don’t have a play station’
I feel like a junkie receiving old games to pawn…
I furtively tracked the progress of the package on my computer over the weekend and found out that Whitney had missed two delivery attempts. Chris, who had forgotten his telephone in his car told me via computer that he had a hard time making her care about the package of playstation parts that I had sent. Whitney had asked him why I cared so much about the playstation toys.
Oh, she said, is it Els being Els?
This will be one of those things you laugh about in a year, I said.
In the meantime, we’ve droned a stroller, a crib, and some organic cotton diapers their way. Just Els being Els.