By the way, couldn't we all agree to maintain the Edwardian "has engaged to marry [insert name of husband-to-be]?" It turns the whole passive "has become engaged" into the deliberate action of an assertive young lady.
Which is certainly the case with Daughter #2, or as Daughter #1 calls her, "Zee." I prefer "Z." Sounds like a secret agent.
This past Monday Z went with Mrs. Optimist and two of Z's close cousins (a series of mutually exchanged retinal injuries mark the relationship between Z and her cousin J, but more of that another time) to shop for a wedding dress. While Eternal Optimist and his son drove about aimlessly in a car - this suited us just fine - Mrs. Optimist and the cousins oohed and aahed over wedding dresses for a few hours.
Z, however, apparently challenged the ritual by finding the dress she wanted and purchasing it. I thought her behavior was admirable, but everyone I've talked with since has remarked on the rapidity of it all.
Z's job involves national defense, and occasionally, national aggression. It may be that her environment has shaped her attitude toward dress buying, which would be to properly sight in the target, then terminate it.
Fortunately Mrs. EO was delighted. She fondly recalled that she bought the first dress she tried on. It created quite a scandal, back in the day (the Times of London was aghast), but eventually everyone - including the Queen - made the best of it. The dress really was spectacular, and all was forgiven after a round of grasshoppers. Noel Coward played us a tune on the piano and everyone got along fabulously!
I am not at liberty to disclose a picture of the recently acquired dress, as etiquette requires the groom-to-be remain in ignorance until the wedding ceremony. This is an example of how tradition can be such a useful guide.
EO remembers being quite bowled over, seeing Mrs. EO (who at that moment was still Miss Maiden-Name) in her wedding dress for the first time, coming down the (very long) aisle with her father. Check out the picture of Mrs. EO in her wedding dress, which etiquette permits me to share:
That sensation of being bowled over has lasted now 30 years, which probably means the sensation deserves a more eloquent name. But I like the phrase "bowled over," as it suggests something with great, purposeful energy striking a perfectly inert object and putting it into violent motion.
Which is generally an accurate description of Mrs. EO's relationship with EO, on our wedding day and ever after, except that in our case the pin very much enjoys being struck violently by the bowling ball, and the bowling ball still looks marvelous in white.
Love the cigarette holder.