Robins wake me in the morning now. My daffodils are ready to burst into
bloom. I have a feeling the peepers will
be starting within the week.
Spring is here.
And that, unfortunately, can mean only one thing: It’s time
to shop for prom dresses.
V drives us, carefully adjusting the seat for her five-two
height before backing out of the drive and heading out to what she calls “new
territory”—an area she’s never driven in before.
“Slow down, this road is curvy.”
“I’m fine, Mom.”
“Watch. Two lanes
“Mom. I can see.”
“Harder. Harder. Harder!” I jam my foot against my imaginary brake
friend, lifting myself from the seat.
“Mom, I think you underestimate my braking capabilities.”
Thirty minutes later, we arrive at the bridal store. This is new territory for me: My daughters
have never gone to prom. Secretly, my
husband and I had hoped to keep it that way.
“Turn.” I point.
V puts on her directional and turns. “Hey!”
She grins. “I just turned across two
lanes of traffic!”
I pry my hands from the door handle and remove my foot from
my imaginary brake friend and stagger into the store.
There’s a woman seated near the entrance. “May I help you?” She gives us a perky grin.
“We’re shopping for prom dresses,” Filibuster says.
perks. “Just let me have your name and I’ll
send a sales consultant around to help you.”
“Great.” I roll my
eyes. “I think we can handle picking out
two dresses on our own.”
We run through the racks, rejecting practically everything
we see: To much pastel. Too
colorful. Too many flowers. Too low.
Too high. No straps. Too much beading. Finally, V has three dresses slung over her
arm. The sales consultant bustles over efficiently. “Are you ready to try those on?”
Filibuster finds three dresses of her own and we head to the
dressing room to find V.
There are several dozen girls picking out prom dresses this
day. And a couple of wedding parties. Mothers and future mothers-in-law gather
around the brides standing on pedestals before three-way mirrors. Come to think of it, there are mirrors
everywhere. I glance at myself
surreptitiously, out of the corner of my eye.
I notice I’ve got white socks on beneath my leather clogs. And my jeans are torn. I didn’t feel like opening new contact lenses
today, so I’m wearing my ugly thick glasses.
And my hair…Well, you know that’s a sore subject anyway. I turn away from the mirrors.
And I face more mirrors.
I want to get out of here.
Everywhere I look, I see me. Chubby.
Unstylish. Me. “How are you doing?”
“Good.” She emerges
in a long black gown.
Oh, shit. She is
lovely. “Gorgeous,” I say. “That’s the one.”
“Are you sure?”
“But it’s the first dress I tried on. I feel like I rushed it.”
“You have good taste.
Go with it.”
“Is it, promy
“Yes, it’s promy. It’s a prom
dress.” I hope it’s a prom dress. Do girls wear black to prom? I look at Filibuster. Whisper out of the corner of my mouth. “Is it promy enough?”
She nods. “Yes.”
Now Filibuster’s shopping method is entirely different from her sister’s. She finds what she likes immediately but then
exhausts every other possible alternative before going back to her first
choice. She tries on dress after dress
until finally, we agree on one that suits her.
“Can I just look one more time?
My cell phone rings.
“Can I make homemade potato chips now?”
“Put your dad on.”
My husband gets on. “Yo.”
“Don’t let him slice off any fingers. And stay by him when he’s working with the
A girl decides upon her wedding dress. A cry of joy goes up. The bride-to-be is handed a brass bell to
ring loudly, to announce her decision to the store. Everyone stops and claps and ooohs and
V looks at me.
Frowns. “This isn’t my thing, Mom.”
Filibuster reappears holding up a dress. “What about this one?”
I study it. It’s
colorful. Lots of layers of fabric. “I have to see it on you.”
Filibuster disappears into the dressing room. V and I go to look at shoes. The sales consultant tries to press rhinestone
bags on us.
“We’re good,” I say.
My cell phone rings.
“How do I know when the oil reaches 350 degrees?”
In a pinch, I’ve been known to use my meat thermometer in
situations like this. But…”Just tell Dad
to throw a bit of water in the oil. If
it sizzles, it’s the right temperature.”
“Are you sure?”
She looks beautiful. She looks stunning.
“What do you think?”
“I like it.”
She beams. “This is
the first dress I showed you. You told
me you didn’t like it.”
“You shouldn’t listen to me.”
After two hours, we are done. We head to the counter.
In order to pay for two prom dresses and two pairs of shoes, I have to
provide my name, my telephone number and the dates of the two proms, which I
still don’t have figured out yet (It takes me awhile to get organized).
I’m given the total and pry the debit card from my
hand. “You guys are paying Dad and me
“Are you sure?”
We head back to the car, the girls beaming.
V starts the car and heads for the exit. “Turn here.”
She cuts too soon.
She hits the curb. Hard.
“Aaarrrrrgh!” Filibuster yells, from the backseat. This from the girl who hours earlier, during her driving time, floored the accelerator, thinking it was the brake.
The car kind of leaps into the air. There’s a scary scraping sound.
I think of the tire my husband and I just replaced last week.
The car is hung up on the curb.
“What do I do?”
“Stop!” I press my imaginary
brake friend. “Back it up a little.”
But before I can respond, V guns it.
The car lurches. The bottom
“THERE’S A CAR BEHIND US!” Filibuster again.
“Just a little.”
The car behind us backs up.
The car kind of falls off the curb. “Just go forward,” I tell V, pointing. "Let's check the tire."
V drives across the exit and into a
carwash. The guys with towels slung over
their shoulders look at us hopefully, point us towards their station.
“Ignore them,” I say.
“Go that way.”
Finally, we navigate our way out of the parking lot.
We head home.
And as soon as he hears the car in the driveway, Squints
runs outside, potato chip samples for each of us in hand.
Next week: Graduation dresses.
Labels: Creative non-fiction, Daughters, Sons