It’s not like I didn’t know the day was coming.
I mean, not only had we known about it for the last 17 years, but 13 first days of school, countless school lunches, and too many late homework nights, surely should have been a reminder that the day would inevitably come; my son’s high school graduation day
And yes, the day IS all about him: what he wears (suit), what he does (party). But nostalgia, sentimentality and celebrations aside, the day is also a bit about me – what I’m going to wear.
A few months ago when I mentioned the coming day to my friend, her first response was “You’re gonna have to get a dress!” And honestly, at that point, I hadn’t really thought about it. I should have been a tad more proactive with that timely warning. But time and budget, both in small amounts, had me panicking two weeks before his big day. I had no choice; I had to get something. I don’t have a lot of fancy clothes, and what I do have is worn and dated. I don’t shop a lot – time and money has been spent on 17 years of child-rearing - so I was out of touch and out of practice. I was dreading it.
I started with one store and tried on five dresses. I hated them all. Of course the changing room mirrors didn’t help.
Exhausted and frustrated after all the changing of clothes, I put back the ‘duds’ and was about to leave when I spotted it – a ‘possibility.’ I didn’t have the energy or heart to try on yet another dress, but I needed to try.
The price was right and it fit okay; it would have to do. Thankful the task was over, I skipped home and hosted my own fashion show for my men.
They were kind and sweet, as complimentary and interested as three men can be about a dress. I strutted and twirled and checked-out every mirror in the house.
And suddenly - I hated it. I thought I could make it work with a throw or a wrap, a few safety pins here and there, and of course, sparkly accessories...but no. I wouldn’t take it back to the store just yet, however. I had one more weekend and one more store in my price range to visit. If all else failed, I would wear the dress I bought and make do.
...and cringe for all eternity as every time I would look at the photos from my son’s graduation, I would remember, “Oh, there’s that dress I hated so much.”
So the next weekend, the LAST weekend before the big day, I hit the pavement again. With my sister as support via cell phone, I marched into the store with a determination that would make any General going into battle, jealous. I flitted from rack to rack, my sister’s words of encouragement in my ear.
And then I found it. THE DRESS.
With six dresses in hand this time – I found five others I thought I should try – I said goodbye to my sister, and hustled into the change room.
I tried on THE DRESS, and it fit perfectly; no pins needed, no wraps or shawls needed to cover-up certain flabby parts.
I tried on the others, just in case. One was a ‘maybe.’ I hummed and hawed, trying them on again. I texted my sister from the change room, announcing I had found THE ONE. The ‘maybe’ was kind of growing on me, but THE ONE was best. I hoped/wondered if either/both were on sale. I couldn’t decide between the two. THE ONE fit just perfectly, but I was having doubts. There was just something ‘off’ about it. The ‘maybe’ was just that, a maybe. I couldn’t decide on either, so strong was my loyalty to THE ONE.
I was tired, stressed, and getting very short on time. I hustled to the cashier, and ta da! Both were on sale. I now had three dresses, and knew I would be returning one, if not two.
But I was in even more of a dilemma. What if whichever one I chose for the big day decided be a dud after all? I didn’t want to spend the day tugging, pulling and adjusting, worrying about every little flab and bulge.
But time was of the essence. The mall was closing in fifteen minutes, and I had to make one more stop in the mall. I could decide on which dress later.
As I charged through the mall, I stopped short. The dress of my dreams called to me through a store window. “Oh my God! That’s IT!” I wanted to cry. I ran in, oblivious to what store I was in. The sales lady with her power suit and over-sprayed hair assessed me over the rim of her glasses. I was in a high-end boutique, clearly out of my element.
I found the dress, and seeing the price tag, I swallowed a gag. Yes, one might say, ‘If you could afford three dresses, maybe you could afford that one if you returned the others.’ Um, no - not quite. The graduate would have to be sold for me to afford it.
With the sales clerk eyeing me, I tightened my pony tail, straightened my cat-hair-covered jacket, prayed she wouldn’t see the hole in the toe of my running shoe, and as regally as I could, exited the store. But I realized one critical error in my part. One thing I should have noticed before walking through the mall and entering such a ritzy boutique.
My shorts were on inside out.
It was time to go home. The girdle I needed would have to wait
In the end, two dresses were returned. The one I kept after all that? The ‘maybe.’
It wasn’t overly fancy. Nothing ‘fell out’ like in the first dress, nor did I feel matronly like when wearing THE ONE. The ‘maybe’ was comfortable; it was ‘me,’ it had a built-in tummy tuck panel, and it was just right.
I was happy – the graduation could proceed.