In the midst of all the oddness yesterday, I had another somewhat surreal experience. As I mentioned in my previous post, R.I.F. — R.I.P Jobs, yesterday was something of a rollercoaster day, and at 5PM last night, my life was still doing some little flips and turns. Trying to set the craziness of the day aside for a moment, I attempted to find something to wear for dinner that evening.
I knew this was a charity event that would include silent auctions and a very nice banquet hall, so I figured I had to pump up the dress code a bit. Part of me wanted to throw on any old thing, but another part wanted to look somewhat decent. I went upstairs to my bedroom and wandered to the closet, ready to begin the motions.
Since it had been nice this week and I’d worn most of my skirts already — and it was also still pretty hot that night — I hoped I could find a something long and swishy that would look cute and also give my legs some breeze. I found I had one skirt left in my closet, a purple, pink, and brown patchwork piece that looked cute, but maybe not formal enough. I added one of my few professional short-sleeved shirts — a light pink, sheer shirt, with darts and all — over my maroon camisole. I moved to the mirror and self-assessed. Hey. . . I looked good! Then, what I like to think of as my “girly-girl mode” suddenly kicked in.
Missing something, though. . . jewelry! The lavender dangling earrings and dangling necklace would be a perfect match with these colors; now adding the “garden” bracelet and matching rings. . . Great. A little make-up? Not too much; I’m wearing pastels. Mascara? — Nice. A little light blue eye shadow. . . fitting! Now, it’s hot, so I should put my hair up. . . a half-ponytail? With a pearl clasp? Hmm. . . A little more hair down? No good. Why do I always feel like I’m back in high school when I attempt the half ponytail? Full ponytail, then. But a simple black ponytail holder won’t do. The chocolate leather flowered accessory with a wooden pin? . . . Oh, wait! The creamy frappuccino encircled butterfly with same said pin? Perfect. Can I get a bun to work? No? Well, good enough. Re-assess in the mirror. . . Great. I definitely looked like a “teacher” with my skirt and dangling accessories, but a trendy teacher.
And then I turned to my date. I realized pretty quickly that I had given him absolutely no instructions about what he should wear. I had mumbled something about the dinner a few times in the past month, and he had immediately put it in his calendar. However, when I’d rambled of the long name of the benefit, had he caught the implication of “charity dinner“? Apparently not.
So, after I’d finished the above primping and moved downstairs in search of my shoes (shoe and purse decisions to follow soon), I bumped into Brian. Oh yeah. . . my date. He took one look at me and said “Oh crap. You’re going to make me look like a slob.” I turned and paused in the middle of my process and assessed him. “Wait. . . . You’re not going to wear that, are you?” It was what we wore out on most evenings: jeans and a casual striped tee. But this was not most evenings, AND I was not myself anymore. I was a trendy, hot-looking teacher who now wanted to look good in front of a lot of important district and town people. I realized afterward that I may also have a bit of my mom, shaking her head at my dad’s brown suits. And. . . maybe a bit of Brian’s mom. . . wanting to pick out his clothes for him. (Yikes!)
For the next fifteen to twenty minutes I felt like I was having an out-of-body experience. Like the spirit of wives past and prissy fashion know-it-alls had taken over me and was now spreading its venomous disdain through snobbish hints, hoity body language, and dismissive gestures.
As I returned up the stairs with my shoes, Brian re-emerged from the bedroom, clean shaven, nicely combed — and wearing a blue polo tee with khakis and black dress shoes. I gave him a once over, paused, and swiveled toward the guest room in search of more shoes. “What was that?” he demanded, following behind me. I mumbled something and feigned ignorance. I was already struggling internally at this point. One part of me — the normal part of me — was also asking “What was that?” And the other part of me was wondering what the heck he was thinking. “I don’t like the shoes,” he said, glancing self-consciously at his feet. “Oh, I like the shoes,” I responded, imagining them matched up with his nice royal blue shirt and the gorgeous black suit that melts me into a puddle of drool. But he didn’t get it. “No, I think they’re too dressy. I’ll find something to match.” I sighed and continued my own struggle with shoes. (I’ll leave the details of my shoe woes to another post about my clothes-to-body-matching woes.) A summary of my shoe experience: my normal black babydoll shoes didn’t look right with the outfit, so I changed to my brown shoes. Then. . . I couldn’t use the black purse. So, I took a look at my two brown purses. I tried them both on in front of the mirror. The huge purse from my aunt’s wedding always somehow looks awesome, even though it takes up half of my body. So, now I was ready to go.
Fight ensues. I don’t remember exactly how it went. I was possessed, remember? This is how I remember it:
Me, hands on my hips and skirt swished up to the side: “I don’t think I’m making myself clear, here. Let me explain how this works — ”
Brian: “Forget it.” storming off
As the hairs on the back of our necks prickled, Brian stormed off to his closet, pulling through clothes, and then he was on the floor on his hands and knees under the bed, looking for something to appease my crazy fashion-demon. As he searched fruitlessly for solutions, my normal self began to recover. I hadn’t given him sufficient warning about the clothes. His nice clothes were dirty. I hadn’t expressed the formalness of this event. And it was hot. Why wear a long-sleeved shirt and jacket? Hadn’t I picked a light blouse and skirt? And put my hair up? And what did I care if we stuck out? Wasn’t I rebellious? Seriously, where were these expectations coming from? Who was saying these things??
Defeatedly, the last of my dreams of mini-stardom and popularity dissipating, I say: “You’re going to be the most under-dressed person there. Does that bother you?” “No. (pause) Does it bother you?” “Maybe.” And I turned and walked out to the garage and got in the car.
As we drove, I tried lighten the situation. I may even have apologized. But, I know at some point I asked him: “If I’d given you enough warning, would you have gotten your clothes cleaned and been ready for tonight?’ He said he would have. I didn’t know if I believed him or not, but I didn’t know if I really cared anymore.
Would you know it, he was not the most under-dressed person there. There was one other young man in corduroy pants with a lavender polo and brown shoes. And that was enough for me.
Image: luigi diamanti / FreeDigitalPhotos.net