Sole-searching Southern wedding
Couple doesn’t get far from country roots
Mama always said you can tell a lot about a person by their shoes, where they going, where they been. — “Forrest Gump”
Last weekend, Baxter and I drove Blue Belle due east, stopping just shy of the Mississippi River at the great metropolis of Piggott. I got to the chapel and found a seat on an old wooden pew beside someone who favored my uncle, except the man was dressed in navy slacks, a pink dress shirt, a pink and navy tie and shined black shoes. My uncle only wears his standard-issue uniform — denim, a plaid western shirt and boots — be it a wedding, funeral or Christmas Day.
“What on earth are you wearin’?” I asked, raising a brow.
Uncle Ronnie flashed his eye-disappearing grin. “Even got the sports coat back home, but didn’t wanna overdo it.”
Piano music shifted our attention to the kickoff of the preacher’s son’s wedding. The small sanctuary had been hosed down in white bunting, blue wildflowers and teal ribbon. It was all one could hope for in a good Southern wedding — a little chapel on a dirt road, two young hearts full of love and devotion, sniffling parents, a healthy dose of humor and loads of Aqua Net. After the “I do’s,” the townsfolk moseyed down the road to the Clay County Fairgrounds.
The fairgrounds had been transformed much like the sanctuary. White lights twinkled atop the gathering hall as folks filled mason jars with lemonade and grabbed folding chairs before the cake-cutting, garter-throwing and boot-scooting began.
The preacher had his son and new daughter-in-law sit back to back in the middle of the dance floor. He asked them to remove their shoes and trade one shoe with their spouse. The fun-loving couple was taken aback at first, but the young bride quickly kicked off her glittery heels, sniffed one, shrugged her shoulders and tossed it behind her. The groom pulled off his cowboy boots and handed one behind his back. The preacher then asked the couple to raise the shoe of the corresponding person in answer to a series of questions.
“Who’s the messiest between you?”
Two glittery heels went up. “Who says, ‘I’m sorry,’ the fastest?”
Two boots went up.
“Who eats the most?”
Two glittery heels were raised, along with giggles from the bride as she turned to see her groom’s answer.
“Who’s the most romantic?” Two boots went up. “Who’ll cook dinner?”
Four shoes were raised to a round of applause.
Solid country gold poured from the speakers, and all manner of cowboy boots, steel-toed shoes, sandals, pumps and flip flops clambered to the dance floor. Folks twisted and lurched like they were trying to shimmy out of their pantyhose and neckties. Where they’re going is right where they’ve always been. Even those of us who venture down the road a ways do well to never get too far from our roots.
And here I’m usually barefoot.