June 12, 2001
Attention to Detail


I'm standing in the bedroom, trying on my wedding dress.

It's early Friday afternoon  --  the first Friday of the Totem Pole Company's new summer hours  --  and I've been home since shortly after noon. David won't get off work for hours, so I have the apartment all to myself for a while.

This is the perfect time to take The Dress out for a test drive.

This is only the third time I've tried it on: once in the fitting room at Sears, the day I bought it, and then once again when I brought it home. The rest of the time it has languished safely, sheathed in plastic, in the farthest regions of the bedroom closet I share with David. Part of that is superstition: I don't want to jinx things by letting David see The Dress (with me in OR out of it) before the wedding. And part of it is vanity: I wanted to drop a few more pounds before I tried it on again.

(And part of it sheer practicality: if I accidentally dribble A&W Diet Root Beer on my dress, between now and the wedding, I'm gonna have to pay a buttload to get it dry-cleaned.)

The dress slips right over my head, without resistance  --  I don't even have to unbutton the back buttons  --  and the fabric drops and drapes itself smoothly around the contours of my body. The hem of the dress hits me exactly at the ankle. I flex my arms experimentally. No pulling or tugging at any of the seams. No bra straps showing anywhere, either.

So far, so good.

Because the bodice of the dress is so plain  --  so unadorned, except for the bit of lace on the bolero jacket  --  I felt that it needed a little jazzing up. So I ordered some vintage pearl jewelry online: a necklace and matching earrings, in dark metal with ivory pearls ... very ornate, very old-fashioned and romantic-looking. This will be the first time I'll see the dress and the jewelry together. I fasten the necklace around my neck, and slide the earrings into my lobes. Finally, I slip the bolero jacket over the dress.

And then  --  nervously  --  I walk into the bathroom to take a look in the mirror.

Here's what I see: I see a fortyish woman in glowing good health  ...  slimmer than she's been in fourteen years, pink from the sun, clear-eyed and well-rested, enjoying a Fabulous Hair Day  ...  standing in her bathroom wearing her lovely wedding dress. The dress actually fits better today than it did when I first bought it: the neckline lays more smoothly, without puckering, and the bolero closes all the way across my chest without straining. I twirl around, trying to catch a glimpse of the back. I love the neat row of buttons running down the back of the dress. Even the color of the fabric, a soft vanilla-white, looks better now than it did a month ago, thanks to some careful time in the sun. I see a woman poised on the edge of her life's next great adventure, looking  --  and feeling  --  like a bazillion bucks.

And here's what else I see: I see a tag sticking out of the neckline of the dress, just above my cleavage.

Whut the ... ?

Closer investigation reveals it to be a care-instruction label ("Dry Clean Only"). How strange that they would put this label in the front of the dress!  Wouldn't it be less visible  --  and less scratchy  --  if they put it in the BACK of the dress, instead ... perhaps right above that neat row of buttons that runs down the back ... ?

And that's when it hits me.

I've got my wedding dress on backwards.

.tsirhC .H suseJ

I've been wearing the dress BACKWARDS, all along ... since that very first afternoon I tried it on, in the Sears fitting room during my lunch hour. The "neat row of buttons" I'm so fond of? They go in the FRONT ... not in the BACK. How could I not have noticed this minor detail????

It is a moment of profound but amusing personal humiliation.

I yank the bolero jacket off and toss it onto the bed  ...  pull the dress over my head, turn it around, pull it back on  ...  and fearfully take a look at myself in the mirror again. Of course everything is different now. The silhouette is different, the "hang" is different, the fit is different. (The neckline is totally different: with the buttons on the front, the vintage pearls are all wrong now. I'm going to have to start all over again, looking for jewelry.)  It's as though I am wearing a completely different dress than the one I originally purchased.

But you know what? I think I like it better this way.

I can actually see the neat row of buttons, for one thing. All I have to do is look down, and *poof* ... there they are. The dress has a symmetry of design it didn't have before. It looks more detailed and polished and more ... I don't know ... more dressy.

Plus now I know that if I accidentally dribble A&W Diet Root Beer down the front of the dress at the reception, I can always turn it around and wear it backwards.

one year ago: help me send junior to europe!
[and win a free ham!]

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