Dress Blues

By Jeanne Marie Laskas
Sunday, July 8, 2007

"Oh, I love that dress," I say to my sister Claire. "Is that new?"

She shoots a glance at her husband, James. "See what I mean?" she says to him.

He hangs his head in defeat. I have no idea what's going on. I'm not supposed to love the dress? The dress is not new?

"I wore this dress to the last three weddings," Claire says. "And even you don't remember."

"I'm sorry," I say.

"It just proves my point," she says. "I'm irrelevant."

"Oh, darlin' -- " I say, consolingly.

"You're irrelevant, too," she says to me. "We're the aunts. We're the boring people the bride and groom had to invite. That's who we are. That-is-who-we-are."

Well, wow. And here I was looking forward to this wedding. My nephew Tom is the last of my brother's four kids to walk down the aisle. My brother, John, is more than a decade older than me and Claire, and so he's well ahead of us with these life passages. Our kids are still young grade-schoolers, while his are in their 20s, off making their way in the world.

"We used to be the people everyone came to watch," Claire says. "John used to drag his kids to our events, weddings, graduations. We were the focus. Now we're the watchers. We're background. We're wallpaper."

"Good heavens!" I say, looking at James.

"You deal with her," he says.

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