“Do what you are not supposed to do, like wear white shoes all year round.”

Carine Roitfeld

Gatsby wore them, as did his creator, F.Scott Fitzgerald. They were the footwear that floated across the gin-soaked dance floors of the Jazz Age, and the shoes that were propped up on the teakwood desks of every law office from New Orleans to Charleston to Memphis, hence the term “white shoe law firm.” We’re speaking today of the classic white buck. Yes, we are.

My father and his entire generation wore them. All the Rockefellers and Henry Ford, The entire Kennedy family, from Joe to John-John, wore them. The classic white buck is the mint julep of the shoe family, and the shoe du jour in all of Southern literature, from Flannery O’Connor to Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. Yes, they were.

White bucks were for generations found under restaurant tables, on bar rails and in the bed rooms of fashionable uptown ladies just about everywhere, but not, it seems, in Maine.

White bucks are as rare on the streets of Maine as a stray flamingo. Maybe it’s the brevity of the season, maybe it’s that mud season thing. I think it’s a political thing, because New Balance doesn’t make them.

Why am I obsessed with shoes on this hot July day, what with ISIS heading towards Baghdad, and the new recycling about to start? It is of course, like everything else this summer, about the wedding, the one we call the “Royal Wedding,” because it will be the last one in this family.

You aging fathers have all been through this. You know the drill. As we speak, I know of at least six fathers preparing for The Day.

The bride is busy being obsessed with things borrowed and blue and, it seems, has researched it all in brides’ magazines. I don’t think there is a “Father of the Bride” magazine. I checked all the magazines in my dentist’s and doctor’s waiting room racks. There were a couple of shots of what appears to be a father in “Arthritis Today.” He’s wearing one of those outfits like President Grover Cleveland wore to his daughter’s wedding, like all middle aged and older fathers wear: Long black tuxedo jacket with tails, a gray vest and striped trousers with black shoes. I believe it comes with a silk top hat. I don’t see me in a silk top hat. Jack Kennedy wore one in his inauguration parade as a favor to his father, Joe, who wore one.

It’s boring of course, but it’s what Spencer Tracy wore in his 1951 “Father of the Bride,” and Steve Martin donned in his shot at the role in 1991.

It’s uncomfortable, and because most weddings are in the summer, it’s hot. You’ll stand there and sweat throughout the ceremony,and despite your love for the girl, will be happy, as required, to give her away and get it over with.

Of course it may be a simple ceremony and less formal, but you still can’t wear those shorts and shoes you wear to the golf course or cut the lawn in. You have to dress up and wear a tie, and shoes that hurt.

I refuse to look like Grover Cleveland, and I don’t have arthritis. This may be the bride’s special day. But it’s my last hurrah. The guests will be looking at the bride of course, but all eyes will eventually wander to me to see If I stagger or shuffle and fall down.

So I intend to dazzle. I am going full out “Gatsby”: A splendid navy jacket, striped shirt with white collar and cuffs, white linen slacks, and (drum roll) white bucks.

The question remains: As this really is the last wedding in the family, when will I look as fabulous again? She, who has a cuter outfit, says I can be “laid out” in it. We all know what that means. She says people will gasp and say, “Doesn’t he just look fabulous?”

Well,I’m not being “laid out.” She can give the shoes to Goodwill. Surely there will be another father of the bride somewhere who wants to do “Gatsby.”

Strike up “Here Comes the Bride.”

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.


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