Your conventional bridesmaid dress wisdom is that they are
the fountain of fug, the pinnacle of putrescence, the place from where all evil springs and
pollutes the world. The bride, see, she is special and radiant on her special,
radiant day, and as a bridesmaid, it is your job to be the lumpy backdrop
against which she shines like a little sun, in love with the world. That is the
rumor, but I’ve never believed it. I’ve heard the stories, and I saw the Web site, but I
didn’t believe it. It seemed too cruel. And the world isn’t cruel–it can’t be!
Because it is filled with bunnies, and they are so nice.
Carrie, my brother’s lovely fiancÃ©e, loves bunnies. Well, I
assume she does, because she is a lovely girl with happiness in her heart, and
my brother seems to like her okay, so I am assuming she is, by default, a fan
of the bunnies and everything else that is good and perfect in the world like
chocolate and sick days and flowers. So
a bunny-loving gal like herself, she would fight against the tyranny of the
ugly bridesmaid dress, a good fight, a hard fight, a fight to win, and her
bridesmaids would not be as pretty as her, maybe, since she gets the superfance
dress and also the awesome veil thingie, but they would at least be as pretty
as God intended. Which for some of us would be really awesomely pretty. Yay,
genetics! Me, I would do okay. I had faith.
Faith is a good thing to have in Carrie; while the
color she chose is yellow and I am not a girl who looks anything like the
living and mostly like the recently dead in yellow, at least we would be
wearing a lovely linen, with a brocade kimono sash in yellow with silver
threads and it was all going to be very charming and garden party. No butt
bows, or poofy sleeves, or shiny satin in improbable colors or unspeakable
malevolence that would swallow all our souls and give everyone something to
talk about at the pre-reception cocktail party. Instead, she picked the fabric
and we got to pick the style of dress and it would be made by a very nice woman
in Brooklyn who apparently owns her own sewing machine!
Or something. It was all going to work out so well, as these things do. Faith.
I chose a sleeveless A-line dress with a little V-neck,
because they told me an ankle-length parka just would not fly. Of course, I
cried a lot as one does, but the A-line thing seemed reasonable, with the butt
I’ve got, and while I would probably not be dying the dress to wear again and
again at every special occasion, I was pretty pleased with my choice. As
pleased as I could be, with a decision fraught with so much anxiety and
insecurity. This is the dress I’m going to be seeing my family in for the first
time since I’ve lost a 123 pounds, and people I grew up
with, and Carrie’s family, and the boy I had a big crush on in middle school.
This is the dress I was going to be standing up in during the ceremony, in
front of a hundred people, to ostensibly read an original piece of writing all
about the Beauty of Love, or something. This is a dress I was afraid of.
I forked over my million dollars to the lady and her sewing
machine, as a deposit. And woops! I
forgot to send my measurements for several million months in a row, sorry, and
then I finally did, and I sat back and waited for my dress to show up in the
mail. In the meantime, I lost
approximately three more pounds. I think maybe five, max.
Minor tweaking would be necessary, I knew. One of the less
psychological reasons I had put off having my measurements taken for so long
was because I didn’t want to have to spend all the money in the world to get
the dress taken in 15 sizes, because in between having the dress made and
being in it at the wedding, I would have lost enough inches to circle the
globe. I was all about being frugal and thrifty, and those are very good
qualities to have, when you don’t want to be thrown on the street, or into
debtor’s prison. Which, generally, I do
I was already frazzled when the dress arrived, because of
mailing snafus. They make it in New York,
they ship it to me in San Francisco.
When’s it going to be here, I said? Oh, Thursday. For sure, they said. Thursday
passed. Wait, I said. It’s Friday. Where is it? Oops, they said. Several
tracking number adventures later (how do you mistake a nine for a seven?) I
find out that instead of mailing it to my work address, where packages tend to
arrive promptly and without fuss, they mailed it to my home. Except that someone had just dumped the dress
by the front door of my home and wandered away.
I put off my after-work plans and raced home, hoping it
would not have been absconded with. I ripped open the package that was
thankfully not there, because I was dying to see this dress and secretly, I
think, I thought I would look lovely. Despite the color I was unsure of and the
style and all the doubts I had, I was positive that I would slide the dress
over my head and look at myself in the mirror and see loveliness. I had no good
reason to believe this would be true, and yet.
As happens, over and over–and will it ever stop?–there are
the moments when you feel unstoppable and fit and fierce, and then there are
the moments when you pull a bridesmaid dress over your head and realize
something is wrong, and turn to the mirror, and realize you are the lumpiest
thing God has ever made, and there is no justice in the world, because you are
watching your brother get married in a potato sack. No tailoring in the world
can help, a dress can’t even be made especially for you, and it is your body
that is broken.