This Little Dress

I was looking at a newspaper photo of the actress Kristen Stewart the other day, which got me to thinking:

What if you’re attracted to someone you don’t really like as a person, but the attraction is so strong, the magnetism, the sexual crackle, the yearning, etc.

I think that’s what happened between me and Posh. My physical attributes overpowered her, even though she didn’t care for me all that much as a person.

Hey, I get that.

That’s just something I want you to think about if you’re thinking of dating actresses such as Kristen Stewart. There’s a lot of them out there. Too many. In the libraries, in the canyons. And they’re dangerous when bored.

Reminds me of Mrs. Robinson. Remember how she bear-traps poor Benjamin and they end up hating each other?

Does Ben give up on love? No way. He just starts dating her unavailable daughter. He trades one bear trap for another. Gawd, the Robinson Thanksgivings must’ve been a hell of a lot of fun.

Cautionary tales like this abound. Tolstoy wrote a lot about irrational human emotions. Shakespeare too. Oscar Wilde. Nick Hornby. Where’d it get us? Nobody listens. Not even me.

Just remember: True love melts like lemon drops. Or as Hilary Duff once sang: “If the light is off, then it isn’t on.”

Just ponder that a moment.

Cut to 40 years later. We’re baptizing young Catty Cakes, the latest girl to steal my tiny hollow heart. The ceremony is in Santa Monica, so everyone is chipper beyond reason. This is Camelot, after all — a Pixar kingdom. Never rains here, buses never splash you. Near as I can tell, no one ever ages.

Except me. In Santa Monica, I’m like the portrait of Dorian Gray. I absorb all the cutting sun, all the vagaries of other people’s lives — the sins, the bad food choices, the questionable weekends. It adds up, that stuff.

Next to 4-month-old Catty Cakes, I look like Mt. Rushmore. All my fissures show and some of the rock face has started to chip away.

I’ve been thinking about getting a nose job anyway, and as long as the doctors are  in there they may as well add a cleft chin.

And if you could un-squint my eyes a bit, that’d be good too, Doc.

Beverly Hills plastic surgeons are the only gods we have left out here, but they are great gods, capable of anything. Like, if they ever got hold of Frankenstein he’d probably end up looking just like Kristen Stewart.

When the doctors are done, you might not even recognize me, which would be good. They’d finish right about the time Catty Cakes is starting to talk, and she’d have this fully renovated grandpa to pal around with, someone worthy of her.

Point is: I want to be at my very best for Catty Cakes — in spirit and appearance. This promises to be a very long and good relationship, though she does cry every time I hold her.

She clearly prefers her other grandpa (Tom) with all his East Coast Irish charm. Everybody does. Whatever.

Just hang on, Catty Cakes! I’m self-improving all the time!

Meanwhile, my lovely granddaughter won’t recall this beautiful baptism, but we will. There was the churchly light. There were linen jackets, and everyone had taken a little extra time with their hair.

After the ceremony, there was a lunch by the pier, at that place “Lobster,” where the chowder is 20 bucks. That comes to $2 a drop. Like California gasoline.

Such a world Catty Cakes has entered, full of inflation, political drama and those annoying promo codes. All the time, promo codes. And elections. Lord knows what’s next.

In her favor, she’s got two strong and robust grandpas. Several aunts. Uncle Smartacus, a smirky yet very solid guy, her palace guard.

What else ya need? Nothin’. Not when you have two adoring parents and this double-wide safety net of family, friends and sturdy grandpas.

This day, Catty Cakes has it all, all right. Including a kiss on the forehead from God.

Catty Cakes woke up in the middle of the ceremony, with the priest towering over her. Her eyes began to glisten…diamonds welling in her eyes.

“What the …?” she must’ve thought.

I mean, she weighs all of 12 pounds, and a lot of her defense mechanisms have yet to fully develop.

But she hung in there. Life is mostly about hanging in there. It wasn’t till she saw the bill for lunch that Catty Cakes actually cried. That’s how Irish she is.

Her pretty little gown? The lovely and patient older daughter had it made from Posh’s wedding dress, which is something I’m told the Italians like to do – recycle a wedding dress into frilly baptismal garments.

“Does that little dress have a story?” the priest asks at one point.

Oh, Father. Doesn’t everything?

Props to Smartacus for these photos, and to my daughter’s longtime friend, Marie, for the outstanding needlework on the gown. Posh’s wedding dress has been in a box in the basement for almost 40 years, getting dry, getting brittle. I can’t imagine how you cut and sew something like that into this gorgeous little baptismal dress, with buttons down the back. It must’ve been like stitching together lemon meringue. But Marie did, in magnificent fashion. Thank you, Marie. Thank you, Catty Cakes. Thank you, Jess and Justin. Mazel tov this moment.

24 thoughts on “This Little Dress

  1. Mazel tov indeed. You’re a lucky man to be grandfather to that angel in the gossamer dress. (Just please forget Kristen Stewart. It’s unseemly on many counts.)

    1. The most beautiful christening dress I’ve seen. May it get used again and again as your family grows.

  2. Hello from England! I have been a regular reader for years and just loved the pic of your beautiful granddaughter’s dress – what a lovely tribute to her grandmother. Blessings to you and your family.

  3. My heart swells with every post of Catty Cakes. More. Please. And refitting Posh’s wedding dress? Absolutely brilliant. ❤️

  4. I am shedding tears of joy over this. Posh is kveling knowing her wedding gown was repurposed as a baptismal dress.

  5. I needed this, thank you. Love your musings, sense of humor and of course, your lovely family. Oh, god bless Catty Cakes, isn’t she wonderful.

  6. When you write about love, Chris, the prose softens, the edges become more nuanced, the threads thoughtfully spaced, nearly filigreed, artful in a powerfully intricate way, almost like a memory of an old wedding dress. Come to think of it, lately you’ve been writing of little else. “when a young man’s fancy turns…”. One of your best, of recent vintage,

  7. You have such a blessed family. It was truly an honor to sew the dress and every time I look at the pictures I get tears in my eyes! Love to you and your family. This post was so beautifully written, as all of yours are. I just found an old cut-out from junior high years recently of another time Jess and I were mentioned together, floating in pools, eating fruit, and enjoying SoCal life as teens…time flies but the love is always there <3

    1. Marie, you now have a place in family lore — as if you didn’t already. The kids and I were blown away by the gown, as were all the folks who read about it yesterday and saw the photos. Had you ever done anything like that before? The results were astounding, and we will treasure and use that little dress for many years to come, I hope. Thank you again for everything!

  8. Mazel tov, Catty Cakes. You are a beautiful little girl with a fabulous and caring network of family. I love reading what your beloved grandfather writes about you and everyone else…with lots of love.

  9. Catty Cakes’ little Christening Gown is exquisite!
    That it is created from your precious Posh’s wedding gown makes it even more an heirloom for the future! How gifted is your friend Marie to have stitched this beautiful treasure.
    You have a Family full of love. God Bless you Chris!

  10. I love this story and I love all your stories! I can’t believe Smartacus is about to go off to college. I remember when he was born. And, as a nice Jewish gal, I love that you said Mazal Tov! I work in Santa Monica, for CC’s future school district, in communications. Gin and tonic on me if you ever have extra time when in town. Maybe when CC is napping. Even if it’s the morning. Best, gail

  11. Plucked my heartstrings again CE. It’s so wonderfully refreshing and uplifting on a day such as today, to be a (literary if not literal) part of a normal (okay what’s that?) loving, happy family on such a lovely traditional occasion. I know The Lobster is obscenely expensive, but the view… the pier… the Oyster Bay Chardonnay, (not to mention the oysters) you can’t beat it. Mazel tov! And from my 3/4 Irish side; Slainte!

  12. “I’m like the portrait of Dorian Gray. I absorb all the cutting sun, all the vagaries of other people’s lives — the sins, the bad food choices, the questionable weekends. It adds up, that stuff.”

    Such fantastic writing. Thank you. Also, unlike our friend DG, you are aging for your own sins AND those of others. That’s a lot on your shoulders, and your skin!

  13. Heartwarming. Ohhh that wedding dress transformed into a christening gown…tugs at the heartstrings. Beautifully done.

  14. Do you have any idea how large your family is? I think not. You’d have to include your entire readership as you’ve made us all feel like part of your family. And how fortunate we are!

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