Tis the season, and all that fancy, shiny, sparkly stuff. Or almost, anyway. So far, I am ignoring all the difficult parts of the season, which include traveling, making plans, buying presents and trying to not explode. Instead, I am concentrating on the exciting part of the season, which includes parties, which include, if they are proper holiday parties, egg nog, figgy pudding, and Santa hats. Additionally, fancy dresses. Itâ€™s the fancy dresses part that I am most interested in, because fancy dress! Itâ€™s like prom, only with less losing my virginity in an â€˜89 Camry.
This year there are many parties, ranging in size from our annual holiday gift exchange evening to the giant enormo-parties given by both my company and E.â€™s company. Mine, they do not allow dates. Rumor has it that this is because the wife of an employee tried to sue, vis a vis the debauchery that occurred, and ruined everyone elseâ€™s good time. Therefore, we are only allowed to bring ourselves and our senses of adventures, dressed to the absolute nines, full-on, full-out. Shiny!
The other party, I am the date and as such, have certain obligations in
regards to embarrassment and the avoidance of, and a sense of pride. It
is, additionally, full-bore and totally gonzo super cocktail totally
Therefore, you seeâ€”and I credit you with coming to this conclusion at
least three paragraphs agoâ€”I need an incredible dress to carry me
through both occasions, and also to wear while scrubbing the toilet,
taking out the trash and reading Proust. Obviously.
Formalish/cocktailish dress shopping sounds a little terrifying,
though. Department stores full of racks and scariness and also there are
wildly varying price points and a dizzying amount of high ceiling and
wide floor space. I get both claustrophobic and agoraphobic, and then I
sweat, pass out and die, in department stores. Howeverâ€”I walk past
Banana Republic every day, and theyâ€™ve got several dresses of varying
levels of cuteness, hanging out in their window and looking satiny, and
I am a magpie, and the Republic, it is not so intimidating a place to
shop, so I ducked in on my lunch break, yesterday. Boom in, yank things
off hangers, try on, get out. An operation that is military in
precision, and possibly wrought with failure, but a way to get my feet
all wet and my loins all girded.
Of course, as soon as I started plucking through racks, looking for my
size, a sales person bounded over and offered himself up for help and
introduced himself as a stylist. Ordinarily, I say â€œNo, Iâ€™m just
browsing. Thanks!â€ But for some reason, my mouth opened, and out yarfed
â€œI have fancy parties to go to! Make me gorgeous!â€ or idiot words to
that effect, and I was trapped, hustled to a dressing room, and things
began to be hurled at my head. â€œThis!â€ heâ€™d scream, and a pile of
taffeta would land on my head. â€œSO YOU!â€ heâ€™d howl, crawling under the
door with a silk shift clenched between his teeth. â€œWE ARE GOING TO BE
BEST FRIENDS!â€ he shrieked, taking me by the shoulders and spinning me
around until I fell to my knees and begged for mercy.
He crammed my feet into shoes, ran for accessories, swore I looked
fabulous in a baby doll halter (I do not), insisted I try pants after I
explained patiently that these were not really pants occasions, and
talked so much about me slicking back my hair and wearing a lot of eye
makeup that I started to wonder if maybe there was something I should
know about my general, everyday personal appearance and why my friends
hadnâ€™t told me.
I was standing there in tuxedo pants that were a full six inches too
long for me, and another sparkly black babydoll halter with a ribbon
tie that somehow both managed to make my boobs look low and tragic, my
waist look tree trunk-ish and my hips look triplet-bearing, when I
realized that my lunch break was over, I was no where near finding a
dress (surprise!) and that I really wished he would have contradicted
me when I said â€œNo more sheath dressesâ€”Iâ€™m lumpy.â€
No! he was supposed to gasp. Youâ€™re not lumpy at all! You are a
delicate, willowy flower, a model of modern womanhood! I am lumpy; I
did not want more skinny dresses because of it, but a protest, that
might have been nice. Yes, I have shame in that.
He was manic, and kept flinging things at me, regardless of my body
type, and I know he was focused on selling something, but I felt
simultaneously exposed, ridiculous, fat, flabby and completely
invisible. He wasnâ€™t really seeing me, when he insisted that I was
absolutely a size 6 or an 8 (what? Thank you?); he wasnâ€™t paying
attention to me when I insisted I was lumpyâ€”what salesperson lets a
customer think â€œlumpâ€ when heâ€™s trying to sell gorgeous? And I was
relieved when I realized I was so late, that I had to apologize, run up
the stairs, folding his card in my pocket and wondering how fast I
could lose it.