24 August 2005

The Prom: Take Two (part 2)

(The sequel to Hamlet was my undoing: Parts I, II, III)

The Prom: Take Two (part 1)

For fuck's sake, are you not at the goddamn prom yet? Um, well, no. I swear when I decided to write this, I never thought it was going to reach the scope it has. If you've read the whole thing thus far, you totally rock and I appreciate it.

Part 2:

Asking turned out to be the easy part. I figured out what I was going to say, he was actually home when I called, and he agreed to go without any hesitation even though the prom was only a week away. After calling Liza to say we wanted in on the limo rental, there wasn't much I could do: stores would be closing in a few minutes if they hadn't already, and none of them would be open on Sunday.*

Mom picked me up from school on Monday, so we could start the dress hunt. I was at a serious disadvantage shopping this close to the prom because all the boutiques in the county networked so that no two girls would end up at the same prom in the exact same dress. In addition, I had no idea what I wanted since I hadn't given it any thought other than having some vague Prom Dress conception. The first two stores had nothing that I liked, so we got back in the car.

When I walked into the third dress store, there was Missy Fallon, the closest person to an arch nemesis that I had at my school, which is to say mainly that I disliked her immensely. She acted like an airhead, tormented people to elevate herself, and ruled her own clique. If my mom hadn't been with me, I would've ducked back out before Missy could see me.

I took a resigned breath, walked to a rack as far from her as I could, and started looking at dresses.

"Hey, Claire. Can I help you find anything?" Missy asked from behind me.

She works here. You're fucking kidding me.

"No. Thanks. I'm just looking right now," I replied.

"Ok." She was as chipper as ever. "You might want to check over here too. We've got some great dresses that will work for the prom that you could also wear to a semi-formal at college next year. I mean, why get a dress you can only wear once, right?"

"Right," I replied weakly. Apparently she couldn't tell I had my heart set on a Prom Dress.

Mom held up a few dresses she thought I would like. I took two and headed for the dressing room. Missy followed handing me her practical wear-more-than-once dress pick for me. "This would look great on you," she said. It was a short sheath cut dress in rayon with spaghetti straps. I admit that I liked its blues with hints of maroon and green. It was not the first nor last time someone would get excited by the prospect of dressing me up. Missy was eager and expectant, so I decided to try hers on first to get it out of the way.

I closed the curtain and took off my jeans and rugby shirt. I put my arms through the straps and tried to wiggle the dress down. It was too narrow and bunched up at my shoulders: I was stuck. I was trying to ease it off when Missy spoke from the other side of the curtain, "How's it fit?"

"It's too tight."

Her fingers closed around the edge of the curtain, peeling it back so she could peek in. She stifled a short giggle and said, "Here," as she opened the zipper along the side seam and stepped back out. The dress slid easily into place finally covering my underwear. Stupid hidden zippers, damn dresses!

"What do you think?" Missy asked.

I stepped out because my cubicle had no mirror. In the large three-sided mirror of the dressing area, my bra straps loomed conspicuously, and my cheeks were still flushed a violent red. The dress was fine but not at all what I wanted, and after my last few minutes experience with it, I never wanted to see it again.

"I think I'm going to try some other things on," I said as I pulled the curtain as closed as it would go on both sides. From then on, I scrutinized the dresses carefully for zippers, buttons, and fasteners of any kind before trying to put them on. Still nothing suited me. I was frustrated, worn out, and ready to give up.

"You could always wear a tux," Mom offered from the other side of the curtain.

I laughed because the idea had appeal, but said, "Nah," because I didn't have what it took to pull it off. Besides, I wanted to show off how great I could look if I felt like it.

Needing a respite, I pulled my jeans and shirt back on and took another circuit of the store.

"This looks comfy," Mom said, fingering some fabric. "Here, feel this." The rippled material had an easy stretch to it. It might actually be comfortable. When I pulled it off the rack, Mom added, "I didn't mean you had to try it on."

"No, I know," I replied as I carried it to my dressing room. It was a short green dress with puckered stretchy material for most of it, ending with loose cascading material landing above the knee, strapless with off-the-shoulder poofy bits like folded bows. It was comfortable.

Missy stood nearby as I looked in the mirror.

"Do you have this in blue?" I asked.

"Let me check."

Mom looked at me in the dress and said, "I like it," in a tone that meant she really did. I changed back into my clothes.

Missy returned and delivered the bad news, "Someone already bought it in blue. This is the only color we have it in."

I sighed and contemplated more dress shops, dressing rooms, and agony. "What do you think of this green?" I asked, holding up the dress for Mom to consider.

"I like it, I think it's good," Mom replied.

At that point, I'd had it and decided it was good enough. "Ok, let's get it."

"I'll take that for you," Missy said, as she took the dress and retrieved the hanger from the dressing room. "Ok, so you'll need shoes, hose, and a strapless bra," she continued. The blush returned to my cheeks; I desperately wanted to leave.

I glanced at the display of white shoes and dismissively said, "I don't think white shoes would look good with this."

"No, of course not. You get 'em dyed to match the dress," Missy explained.

"Really?" I looked to Mom for confirmation.

After finding a simple pair of flats, I plunked the shoe box down by the cash register. Mom suggested we get the rest from somewhere more reasonably priced. I was immensely relieved: I couldn't face any more embarrassment spawning from my ignorance of formal wear.

At least I had a dress...

*We did have a mall, but nobody bought their prom dress there in those days.
(names changed)



  1. Regarding posted picture:

    Eeks, it's the headless prom date! :-P

  2. yeah well, if I hadn't convinced my mom to finally get rid of that dress earlier *this year*, I would've taken a clean shot of it.

  3. I can't believe after all that, it was just so simply...Yes!

    LOVE the dress, and shopping for the dress! It really is such an ordeal.

  4. seriously, right? I suppose the lesson is don't be afraid to ask for what you want, though I'm not sure I'm any better at it these days.

    And now that I think of it, a year and a half ago I called a friend in a panic because I needed to buy a dress for a wedding. Again with the last minute, the anxiety, the try-this-on for her amusement...so apparently, I haven't gotten much better at dress buying either. ;] She was a doll to help me out though, and the dress she found totally rocked.