Monday, May 20, 2013

Foiled Plans and Happy Accidents

A dramatic retelling of a personal debacle

I'm very much a supporter of plans. I make plans to make plans. So of course, crisis management has never been a strong suit for me. Welcome surprises are just fine, but the unexpected has me much out of sorts. 

It was quite an unwelcome surprise when I opened my awaited package (I stalk them via tracking numbers online many times per day until arrival) to find not only the wrong size in my ordered dress, but the wrong color as well. My younger sister's debutante presentation was the next day – a full-day family affair and the apex of my hometown's high society. I ordered the dress months in advance (Rent the Runway, yes), and was looking forward to wearing it since it was different than what I usually go for. Any woman can tell you how wonderful it feels to wear a beautiful cocktail dress. Of course, just as your aren't allowed to upstage the bride, I knew I couldn't upstage my sister. (Although, I had little chance of doing so. She was wearing a heavy satin Ulla-Maija gown.)

Nevertheless, I put it on the dress I was sent and felt like a Las Vegas call girl. A little tight, a little short. I've always thought I look good in red, with my fair skin and dark brown hair. I had never felt more wrong. 

Here starts the small town shopping scramble.

Don't get me wrong. I love where I grew up, mainly in that there's plenty of Tex-Mex restaurants and that my cats live there. The shopping, though, is marginal. Sub-marginal. Our mall is terrifying, and what boutiques we do have offer slim pickings and high possibility that someone you are related to owns the exact same dress you just purchased. 

I quickly exhausted my few retail options later that night and the morning of, thoroughly put out by the lack of competence in whoever was in charge of my dress' shipping and that Smalltown, USA had nothing to offer me in terms of acceptable sartorial options. I was utterly helpless, wandering around my least favorite department stores, looping around again and again because there had to be something.

Like a soundtrack to a terrible movie, "I've Got a Feeling" by the Black Eyed Peas was playing in Dillard's, and when I got in the car – and this is not a joke – Daniel Powter's "Bad Day" was on the radio. 

I was being dramatic, but for valid reasons. I like to think one of my few redeeming qualities is my innate ability to shop – and with razor sharp focus. Historically, I'm ruthless in the retail realm, scanning racks and fighting the crowds like it's an everyday thing (which, it nearly is). It was embarrassing.

At this point, you've got to be worried. Was I going to be stuck wearing a hideous dress in the face of my judgmental hometown and as the subject of at least a good third of the 1,000 photos my aunt took? (As the only family member with a Nikon, my aunt was the unofficial photographer for the day. She did take around 1,000 photos that day. No, she did not charge an hourly fee.) Or worse, would I have to re-wear a dress from a previous event? As ridiculous as it may be, I'm staunchly against outfit repeating, as I like to call it. (Think what you want. I consider it a fun challenge.) 

Alas, my reputation was spared. Hanging in the back of my old room's closet was a satin strapless BCBGMaxAzria dress. Tags on. Never been worn. A beautiful sight for the sorest of eyes and the weariest of hearts. 

My dear, dear sister had been hoarding a collection of dresses the past year in anticipation of the flurry of events this spring, her final semester of high school. Apparently, she had one too many – a most happy accident.

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