April 24, 2001
Wedding Anxiety Dream #3


Wedding Anxiety Dream #3:

I've got exactly ten minutes to get dressed for my wedding.

We've been so busy sand-bagging the river all morning that we sort of forgot all about getting married. (The good news is that the Space Needle is not going to be swept away in the flood! Whew!)

"Do you remember where you put your wedding dress?" David asks me, and I say of course I remember where I put my wedding dress -- it's hanging right here in my closet. And I open the closet doors ... and of course the only clothes that are hanging there are my maternity clothes from my third pregnancy, fifteen years ago. (Including my crusty maternity jeans -- the ones with the split crotch -- and the relentlessly tacky "I'm Not Fat, I'm Pregnant" T-shirt ... which, as I recall, I continued to wear for about a year after the pregnancy was over.)

"Oh noooooo!" I wail in anguish. "I packed the wrong stuff!"

David stands next to me in front of the closet, trying to "help" me pick out something suitable. 

"What about this?" he asks, holding up an icky, shapeless, salmon-colored maternity sweater. I wore that one through all three pregnancies: I can see it still has Ragu-stains on the collar.

I yell at him that I can't wear any of these clothes. "It's bad luck to wear anything from your first marriage!" I sob. "It's got to be something brand-new!"

He looks at his watch and shakes his head. "If it weren't for the flood conditions, we'd be able to go to K-Mart and buy you a dress," he says sadly. "But we'll never make it across the river in time now."

End of dream.

      *      *      *      *      *      *

Scary Bridal Shop Lady does not seem particularly enthused about helping us.

As a matter of fact, I get the distinct impression that she isn't "particularly enthused" about David and I being in her fussy little store in the first place. I suppose it's our advanced age ... David's Motörhead T-shirt ... our "We're just here to look" demeanor. I suppose, furthermore, that I can see it from her perspective. This is obviously not a first marriage she's looking at here: she won't be selling any floor-length taffeta today. And even if she DOES get lucky, and one of her insanely expensive off-the-rack samples miraculously makes it out the door, I am clearly not a *froufrou accessories* sorta gal. No wedding veils or skinny little pearl-buttoned shoes or $200 garters to go with the dress.

So if she isn't exactly bending over backwards to make a sale, who could blame her?

Just to be polite, though, I take a cursory look at some of the gowns hanging on the rack. Lots of lace. Lots of satin and tulle and beaded appliqués. 

Lots of WHITE. 

"This might be just slightly more formal than what I've got in mind," I say carefully, as Scary Bridal Shop Lady stands a couple of feet away, scowling at me.

I swear I can actually hear her sphincter muscles tighten.

Visiting the bridal shop was more a token gesture on our part than anything, really. We hadn't planned it. We were technically on our way down the street to the bike store, to shop for Schwinns ... but fate had parked us directly in front of the building that houses the bridal shop -- a building we've driven past a bazillion times, in the past couple of years -- so we decided to check it out and see if there was anything even remotely appropriate here.

There isn't. I knew it the instant we stepped inside. But it would be rude to simply walk in and walk right out again.

"Perhaps you'd like to look at one of the catalogs?" Scary Bridal Shop Lady says tersely, once I've dismissed the dresses on the rack. And she points to a stack of massive three-ring binders, spread across a glass countertop. except for the blonde hair, i mean

Yeah. OK. Why not?

I still believe that my perfect wedding dress is going to magically *appear* one of these days ... most likely when I'm least expecting it. I'm going to walk into a department store, looking for something else entirely -- a pair of work shoes, maybe, or a new bathrobe, or some nice tight Spandex bicycle shorts -- and all of a sudden I'll see this perfectly marvelous, uniquely beautiful dress, hanging in a distant corner of the women's department ... and suddenly I'll hear music and bells and see fireworks bursting above the "Clearance" racks ... and I will know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this is The Dress. That's how it's going to happen. I know it.

(But just in case: I'd better not overlook any possibilities, regardless of how unlikely they may seem.)

I open up the first catalog and begin leafing through laminated page after laminated page of wedding fashions. Most of it is the same ridiculously overwrought/ridiculously overpriced *Royal Wedding* kind of stuff I've seen in every ridiculously overwrought/ridiculously overpriced bridal magazine I've purchased in the past four or five months. Fine for a first wedding -- or a coronation, maybe -- but definitely not right for the second-time-around bride. Disgusted, I skip over the next few pages and open the catalog closer to the middle.

And there it is.

"Wow!" I say in surprise. "That's the exact dress I've been talking about!" And I point to the open page in front of us. It's a dress that I've been looking at online -- and seriously considering -- for the past three or four weeks. Technically it's not a wedding dress: it's a Mother-of-the-Bride dress. And technically it's not even a DRESS: it's a two-piece suit. But it caught my eye the first time I saw it, and I seem to like it a little better every time I look at it, and it comes remarkably close to the *vision* I have of myself as a dignified-but-radiant second-time bride. I would probably accessorize it a little ... pearls, maybe, and flowers in my hair, just to make it look more "bridal" ... maybe some Hello Kitty! ankle socks ... but otherwise it does seem to fit the bill.

"Let's ask about ordering it," David suggests.

But when we turn around to look for Scary Bridal Shop Lady ... she has disappeared. Disheartened, no doubt, by our lack of commission potential. We actually have to go in search of her, and when we finally locate her (in the back of the store, eating a doughnut) and show her the dress in the catalog and say that we might be interested in placing an order ... she still seems weirdly reluctant to help us.

"You said your wedding is in July?" she asks skeptically, and when we say yes, it's July 21st, she says "The delivery time on this dress might be eight to twelve weeks."  Which would make it late June/early July before it gets here. 

"That wouldn't even allow time for alterations," she adds dourly. Case closed.

Under any other circumstances, this news would probably send me spiralling downward into a complete and profound funk. What saves me this time, however, is one teeny tiny fact:

She's wrong.

I know that she is wrong, you see ... because I have already spoken by phone to the manufacturers of this exact dress. Twice, in fact. Once to find out how much the dress costs (expensive, but not out-of-line), and then again to inquire about shipping and delivery time. Once the order is placed, the seamstress assured me, the dress can be delivered in fifteen working days. I still have the fax she sent me.

Fifteen working days versus eight to twelve weeks. Anyone here see the difference?

I want to tell Scary Bridal Shop Lady how wrong she is. (And -- while I'm at it -- how rude she is, and how unctuous, and how stoopid she looks with lipstick and doughnut on her teeth.)  But I don't say anything about it ... mainly because I'm not ready to commit, to the dress OR to Scary Bridal Shop Lady. The truth is I'm still not 100% sold on this dress. I mean ... I like it. If it's what I end up wearing to my wedding, I'll be perfectly happy. But it doesn't *grab* me, the way I know The Perfect Dress will reach out and grab me when I finally see it for the first time. (Similar to the way The Perfect Husband grabbed me, when I finally saw him for the first time.) Dumb and naive and absurdly Secralike as this may sound, I harbor an almost religious conviction that somewhere out there, The Dress is still waiting for me.

All I have to do is find it.

So instead we very politely tell her that although we're very interested in this dress, there are still "a couple of other places we plan to look." (This is not a complete untruth: I have a list of other shops in the Bay Area that I'd like to visit in the next few days. David -- my loyal Bridal-Shopping Partner -- has offered to drive me anywhere I want to go.)

She doesn't take our names or our phone number as we leave. She doesn't offer us her business card. She doesn't pencil our names into her little leather book.

I know for a fact that she doesn't blow us a kiss goodbye.

But that's OK. We figure that if we don't find something I like, anywhere else, within the next week to ten days ... if The Perfect Dress eludes me, after all ... then we'll go ahead and have me professionally measured and we'll order the catalog-dress from the manufacturer.

We just won't be ordering it from her bridal shop.

throw a rock