Best Compliment Ever

hatIt was a fancy wedding. Really fancy, held in a medieval church. You know the  hats that they show in the royal weddings? The other women were all wearing those hats. I scanned the sanctuary, in fact, hoping to find another woman not wearing a hat.

My eyes stopped short at a familiar face in the pew to the left.

“Who is that man?” I whispered to my husband.

“That’s George Lucas,” he said.

Geez. George Lucas’s date was wearing a nice sculptural hat. Paul Allen, co-founder of Microsoft, was best man.

We were in Geneva. The oldest son of family friends was getting married. The reception that evening was black tie. We had lived in Zurich for several years and of course I knew that things are much more formal there. But my  husband required carry-on luggage only. A week in Europe, differing locations. I had had to pack not just strategically, but scientifically. I had laid out every item, organized every outfit so pieces could be worn in different settings. No room in the wheelie-bag for a hat. Men have it so easy. Suit and tie. Done.

Back at the hotel was a lace Marc Jacobs dress with satin coat and heels. For tonight, I would be fine. But at the moment I was wearing a simple floral skirt with woven sandals and a t-shirt…a pretty t-shirt with a flower and a collar….but still a t-shirt. Over that was a soft suede shirt.

Finished scanning the church. Some of the hats seemed large enough for two, but I didn’t see another woman without.

“I’m clearly way under-dressed,” I whispered again.

“You’re fine.” Beat. “A beautiful woman can wear whatever she likes.”

I was shocked. Perhaps because compliments, of any kind, from my husband were so scarce I really appreciated that one.

Many things have changed in the 15 years since that wedding. Less in Europe. Less formal attire. Less married. And then, after 35 years of it, not married at all.

The power of a good compliment, however, is much under rated and lasts far longer than one might expect.


Fifth in a series: Moments.




About Karen Ray

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