Today is my daughter and son-in-law's ninth anniversary and it is that one day that brings it all back and makes me crazy with the thought..."What the hell was I thinking?"
This all started when Sara and Jeff became engaged. I don't know if it's a New York thing or if this same mania happens elsewhere but it goes like this: "My daughter got engaged", the joyful announcement, and it ends like this: "You better hurry up and start looking for your dress"with never ending stress. It is on that very day that the future mom of the bride starts to lose her sanity and, as in this case, starts gaining even more weight. I think that's the rule in my family. For every pound the future bride loses, the future mother of same gains. So of course, the next breath that I uttered was "I can't buy a dress off-the-rack in MY size", meaning "I cannot show up looking like THE MOTHER OF THE BRIDE!!!!
So, after spending hours on internet searches in my office (full disclosure Number One, I spent very little time actually working in those months), and a much-needed vacation to Florida where my friend Jay proclaimed that I should have "fun" with what I was going to wear....I located some very nice black gowns in a little shop. Black, being the operative word. Here's another disclosure, Number Two. When Sara was a wee-girl, I told her and meant it with every bone in my body, "If Mommy can't wear black to your wedding, she will not come", after I was sure that she understood that she could not marry in June, July, August or any other month that would find me pouring baby powder down my back to keep from sticking to the seat as she and her intended exchanged vows. Looking back, I'm surprised she didn't elope!
With the name of the dress designer and the styles in hand, I rushed back to New York and made an appointment at an exclusive shop on Greenwich Avenue for a Saturday in November. The wedding date was set for April, mind you, but the stress was in high gear and I had to answer for the billionth time "did you get your dress yet?", so I obeyed the commands and got going. My phone call to the shop was all I needed to insure that the dresses I had seen in Ft.Lauderdale would be awaiting my arrival and I was ready to try that perfect gown, the one I knew would hide a multitude of body-sins, the black beauty that would make me feel confident and ready to greet the wedding guests and hold forever in my memory a stunning me. And the dress was there, on a hanger, in a room with other dresses selected by the salesperson.....who changed the course of history. To this day, if I found her, I would have to strangle her. Seriously. Although, I have to hand it to her. She was one heck of a good salesperson because yes, she had the dress I had requested and yes, she also had a few others that she thought I might like and yes, she allowed me to try all of them on before she zinged me with...."and now, try this one on!" I totally thought that at that moment I was in the hands of a certifiable crazy person so I obeyed to the best of my ability. The dresses do not come in real people sizes, they are tiny sample sizes so "trying on" meant holding the garment up to my body and pretending I was actually wearing it...all three pieces of it. A long slipper satin skirt which featured a rear "mermaid" panel in the finest of Chantilly lace, a lace shrug, and the piece d'resistance, a lace, strapless, bustier. Oh my God. Me??? Bustier??? I had enough anatomy to fill two or three bustiers and never, in my life was I able to wear anything strapless. What?
I tried to talk her out of it but she was so insistent. She was great at her job. "Lady, if you've got it, flaunt it!" she exclaimed as she pushed me in front of the mirror and held my dress on tightly. "You don't look like the type of woman who wants a Mother of the Bride Dress and this is NOT one!" she gushed. And then the grabber, "Honey, you are not going to loose 100 pounds by that wedding so go with what you have there". I was putty in her hands and we were headed for the point of no return, especially after she assured me that the dress would be made for me, inch by inch, customized to my measurements and would fit me perfectly.
The fact that all of this would cost me more than my first car did, got lost in how accommodating I was to become, that I could announce to my helpful friends that I found "the dress" and it was 'being made for my body and mine alone". Of course, I did have to think about this and I made another appointment for the following week to bring the future bride who, well let's make a long story short.....was agog. She also slipped into that fantasy world very quickly and both of us took leave of our senses at the same time. The words "Mom, I can't wait for my friends to see you in that dress" put me way, way over the top and a huge deposit later, we were back on the avenue, giggling.
The months went by and the big day arrived. No, not the wedding day. The "fitting" day. What? "Fitting?"
Should this dress not "fit"???? After all, the women who slaved away for the designer, Rose Taft, were working with the precise measurements sent to them by the Saleswoman of the Year, the same one who promised me that it would fit. Pins here, pins there, pins everywhere. Okay. That will be another hundred-and-something more dollars for "alterations". Now, I could have made a scene. I could have demanded my money back, I could have done any one of several consumer-protected things but I didn't. I simply said "wrap it up, I'm taking it just as it is". That was in February. The wedding was planned for April. I spent from February until one week before the wedding date, looking for a new dress. Well, here's another of those long-stories-shortened. I took the damned dress to the little independent dressmaker who we had always used and she fixed it for me for $35.00 after lots of tsk-tsking and shaking of her head. (I told her what I paid for it and she felt very, very sorry for me)
The real big day came. We traveled to Boston where I got my hair cut and colored the day before the event. Another huge mistake. And, on the morning of the wedding, I got my hair re-done, at this point, I asked that the hairdresser just make it look as if a firecracker had exploded on my head, which she did and I sat through the agony of having make-up applied and a few hours later, I put the dress on and magic happened. I felt exactly as the Saleswoman of the Year knew I would, totally distracted from the fact that my little baby girl was all grown-up and was getting married that day.