Amy is in front of her computer, and I'm in front of mine, and we've been jamming on the phone for an hour.
"Okay, scroll down and you can see the color selections," she's saying. "I just ordered swatches, like five different reds. But wait, click on sleeves. Do you think sleeves dress down the dress? I don't want the girls to be cold, but also I want them to feel glamorous, so we'll decide later, I guess."
"Right," I say. I'm trying to stay with her. The wedding is in February. The girls she is talking about are my daughters, who are going to be flower girls. It's a nighttime wedding, and all the bridesmaids will be in deep crimson.
"It's going to be hard to match reds," Amy says. "Especially when one is silk and the other is taffeta. Then again, they do have this in velvet. What do you think about velvet?"
"I love velvet!" I say.
"But will the girls feel glamorous in velvet?"
Um. "Amy, listen," I say. "You don't need to worry about the girls. This is your wedding. Let it be what you want."
"Oh, so they don't like velvet," she says.
"They love velvet!" I say. They are 6 and 4, and they can feel glamorous in flannel and burlap. "They will love any one of these dresses. I promise! Stop worrying about them. This is your wedding."
"Right," she says. "So you're saying just wait for the swatches to come in."
"Right," I say, even though, no, I never actually said that.
"That's a good idea," she says. "Good. We'll wait and see."
I am feeling unusually patient. When it comes to dealing with a woman in her bride stage, I am all empathy. I remember mine so well, the spasms of indecisiveness, the obsessive attention to napkin folding styles, the pit bull taking over my body and causing me to bark at complete strangers about floral arrangements. But with Amy I am especially empathetic. Amy is my husband's oldest daughter -- he's 15 years older than me and I'm 15 years older than Amy. She's the one who ushered me into my bride stage. I wasn't going to do a real wedding, a real gown, any of that stuff, until Amy got ahold of me and pushed bride magazines on me and converted me. My wedding was the happiest moment of my life, and for this I have always credited Amy (and, yeah, her dad).
So now it's Amy's turn, and my wish for her is an all-Amy day. Everything and everyone she loves. With that in mind, I really don't think she needs to consult me so much on this flower girl dress decision. I love them all, and know my girls will, too. All that really matters is what Amy wants, so this is what I'm pushing for. That she is pushing back leaves me with the sneaking suspicion that I am doing something wrong.
"We need to deal with sash thickness," she says. "Check out the sash on the 'Bianca.' It's thinner than the 'Miranda' and it's cute with the flowers on the side. Maybe we could use thinner for Anna and the thicker one, with the flowers on the back, for Sasha. But, thicker may be fine for both. You can decide later, I guess."
I can decide? Sash thickness is my domain? This is fine with me, except that I have no particular stance on the matter, and, well, I think she should go ahead and pick since this is her wedding. But I have made this point so many times, in so many ways, that I know it's not what she needs of me. She needs me to take charge?
"Thick sash for both," I say. "With flowers."
Now she is silent. Oh, dear. This is not what she needs of me? "I'm a little upset about colors," she says. "Aren't you upset about colors?"
She needs me to be upset about colors. She needs me to join her in the spasms of indecision. A wedding is a symphony, and the bride is the lead violin, and the rest of us, if we are in tune, are tubas and bassoons and French horns and cellos and all the supporting sounds. Amy has a melody, and she needs me to play along. It's a matter of support and a show of love.
"I don't know what we're going to do about colors," I say.
"I know!" she says. "Isn't it a toughie? Hey, we could always do all-black bottom and all-white top and just the sash in red. That way if it's not the exact red it wouldn't be so noticeable."
I might think this is a great idea. But this is not what Amy needs of me. So I dig deep, and deeper still, to find a problem, to find something to discuss, to analyze and yank my hair out over.
"My one concern," I say, "is that an all-black bottom might be a lot of black for a wedding. I mean, I'm not sure."
"Oh, my God, you might be right!" she says, all happy and satisfied.
"What are we going to do?"
"I don't know!"
Jeanne Marie Laskas's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.