I swear every word of this is true …
It was around 5:00 on a Friday afternoon and one of those days that got away from us, which explains why my wife was still wearing her pajamas. We’ve probably all been there at one point or another, especially during the dog days of a very long winter, but she had nowhere special to be, so what she wore really didn’t matter—especially for a day spent searching the Internet for the perfect mother-of-the-bride dress for our daughter’s wedding.
From what I’ve been able to establish, finding the perfect mother-of-the-bride dress is infinitely harder than finding Bigfoot walking down the mall with a chupacabra. She thought she had the perfect dress shortly after she began looking, but that was returned almost immediately after FedEx dropped it on our doorstep, followed by a second identical dress in a different size a week later. After trying the second dress on, Mrs. G’s previous proclamation that, “Shopping online is awesome and so easy!” was replaced with, “Shopping online is impossible! How can anyone possibly know how a fabric feels or if something will fit right?” Nevertheless, online dress browsing has become a daily event because this is where the ideas come from. I still don’t know where the actual dresses come from. I honestly would believe in the Easter Bunny before I thought that the perfect dress could be found without a level of exploration not seen since Apollo 11 landed on the moon.
Just last week, she and her best friend since grade school drove out to a fancy dress shop in an entirely different area code, and there were high hopes that she would come back with something. Let’s just say that the list has now been narrowed down to two, or maybe three, but quite possibly four, depending on the colors available and other circumstances that are a complete mystery to me.
The options for these mother-of-the-bride dresses as I understand them, cover four distinct styles. There’s the slutty version of something Joan Collins would have worn from the Dynasty years, something the Statue of Liberty would wear, Angela Merkel’s sturdy wool suit, or Meryl Streep at the Oscars. The trick is to find some filtered combination of all of these choices that will look good, yet is still comfortable and age appropriate and not in a color that resembles anything found in a bag of Jelly Bellies.
Mrs. G. is also determined to wear the shoes she wore at our wedding in 1982. In defense of that decision, they were and still are an agreeable pair of shoes that have what is called a kitten heel, which sounds cruel but is supposed to be comfortable and not at all made out of kittens. I applaud this decision, as shoes should not be made out of kittens but more importantly, this could mean that she won’t have to shop for shoes. Shopping for shoes would only contribute to the Internet rabbit hole that found her, at 5:00 in the afternoon, bleary-eyed and still in her pajamas.
“I feel like a fish fry,” she said forlornly from the living room couch, after finally logging off the computer. During Lent, they sell fish fries just about anywhere around here. I think Pep Boys even sells them, so I volunteered to go get her one.
“OK, let’s recap the dress,” I said while putting on my shoes. “None of the stores within a hundred miles of our house has a nice dress in your actual size—which is a common size—for you to try on or even look at, but if you see one online, you can order it from one of those specialty stores. How am I doing so far?”
“That’s close, but if I order it from the store, it’ll take three to four months to get it and if I don’t like it, I still have to buy it because all sales are final,” she said while looking at me as if I were a six foot, two inch piece of fried haddock. “If I buy it online, I can get it quicker—anywhere from two weeks to two months, depending on which dress I order,” she said. My fingers were now French fries.
“OK, so get it online,” I said naïvely.
“If I get it online, I can return it, but it has to be within three days of receiving it, and I have to pay for shipping to send it back and they’ll only give me store credit,” she said. Now as far as I’m concerned, any Internet “store” is actually the spare bedroom in someone’s house in a suburb in Phoenix. Floating a fairly substantial credit in one of these places seems a little iffy but I wasn’t about to share this concern with my wife. Any more doubt and she’d pull a Gone With the Wind and make a dress out of the bedroom draperies.
“OK, so if you buy it online, you’re committed, but at least you can try on the actual dress in your actual size in the actual color you want, right?”
“Yeah, but then there are alterations. I would need to find a good seamstress. If I buy it from the store, they have a seamstress right there, plus it’ll be pressed and on a hanger when I get it and I really would like to support somebody local,” she said.
“Buffalo’s not really local and just how convenient is it to drive seventy-five miles, one way, four times?” I said. I felt as if I scored a major debate victory with that one, so I gave myself a high-five and left for Wegman’s to get the fish fry. Funny story—as it turns out, they were out of fish fries when I got there. Well, they were out of the fish anyway. They had fries, so actually it was just a fry-fry. So I called home. “They’re out of fish,” I said, “but they have fries.” I felt bad about layering this bad news on top of the day’s dress debacle, so I asked someone if they were making more fish.
I was told that they were and that they would be bringing out more fish in about ten minutes, so I hung around staring at the tray of limp French fries while holding a pair of tongs in my hand, fully prepared to snap at anyone who grabbed for my wife’s chunk of fried haddock. When they wheeled the fish out, I put everything in a clamshell container, paid for it, and made my way back home. There is still some heated debate on whether I forgot the tarter sauce and the lemon or if they didn’t have any.
Each morning, after my wife gets up, the conversation about the dress begins anew, but I think there has been some progress. It’s been officially narrowed down to two, so we went with a scientific approach. I can’t speak publicly of the colors or styles so let’s call them dress A and dress B, which are both fine dresses for different reasons. “Let’s flip a coin,” she said.
“OK, heads for A, tails for B,” I said. The coin was flipped. It was B.
“Do it again.”
Flip. Catch. Slap. B.
“Is that a real quarter? I’ve never seen a quarter that looks like that,” she said.
“It’s one of those state quarters. They’re all different although it could be an old token from Chuck E. Cheese or maybe a euro for all I know.”
So this is where we stand. Two dresses, both nice, both essentially the same except for color. As of this moment she has decided to buy the dress locally, or as local as Buffalo is to Rochester. I still have no idea which one she’ll choose, but either way, she’ll look beautiful and either way, on the Sunday after the wedding, that dress will go on a hanger and be placed in the closet, where it will remain until the house crumbles into dust.
As for me—well, that’s easy. All the men in the bridal party plus the groom and both fathers will be wearing a suit of the same style and color. A few months before the wedding, we’ll all walk into Macy’s or Men’s Wearhouse or some such store and pull them off the rack. If one of us (me) has to order a suit in a weird size, it will be shipped from one of the other ten thousand identical stores and be there in a few days. The whole process will be as easy as ordering a Big Mac, but I will not be able to speak a word of how simple this is to my wife. Not ever, or at least not until I’m ready to dodge a pair of kitten heels as they fly towards my thick head.
April 12, 2014
The dress has been chosen, and it is … drum roll … dress A. Everyone is happy, although things aren’t looking very good for her 1982 wedding shoes, so the Internet better get ready. Things are going to heat up again really soon.
©Rick Garvia 2014. This column and is protected by intellectual property laws, including U.S. copyright laws. Electronic or print reproduction, adaptation, or distribution without permission is prohibited.