When my daughter informed me she was marrying in Spain, I thought, Wow, I have no castanets! But the real problem became what on earth would I wear? Traditional mother of the bride dresses tend to be, you know, ugly. Though I clocked in at 60 years, I wanted to look my youthful best.
“I want a dress to surprise — a dress to dance the night away in — with a silver-templed Flamenco dancer,” I told my friend, Kathy.
Kathy said, “Cut the fantasies, girl, and start looking for shape wear. Even with your commendable weight loss for this wedding, you may want to cinch in a few pounds.”
Kathy and I had spent years fighting the bulge and I knew she was just trying to keep it real.
The next day, I tried on a shimmery blue, skin tight, sheath in Nordstrom’s wedding shop. I turned several times in front of the tri-fold dressing room mirror — you know, the kind that shows every ounce of flesh? The lighting turned everything green, including my tongue, which I stuck out at the mirror. I looked like a baby pachyderm.
I came into the hallway to see if I looked better in that mirror. The saleswoman looked me over with a semi-polite sneer said, “Perhaps a foundation garment would help.”
I looked up and down her bony frame, returned to the dressing room, and snapped the door shut.
The next week, I took Kathy along to help. In three hours, we had tried on nearly every dress in the mall. The flippy skirt. The twirly short dress. The swirly long dress. Slinky one-piece jumpsuit. (Ok, I admit, at that point, we had lost it.)
“You’ll find the right dress,” Kathy said, as we headed for the parking lot. “There’s a dress for you out there, somewhere.”
Thankfully, Kathy was right. The next week, I found it, in — do not gasp — Target. The Spanish proletariat would surely appreciate my economy, wouldn’t they? I asked myself. It was a simple black “stretchable” sheath, sleeveless with low v-neckline. What appeared to be, on the hanger, a dress I should never wear fit very nicely.
The Dancing Shoes
I knew I couldn’t dance all night without the right shoes. I’ve spent a lifetime trying to find wide shoes in a skinny shoe universe.
A red strappy pair, I thought.
I went to all the shoe shops in my area and tried dozens of pumps, sling backs and slides. Not one fit.
Finally, and not a day too soon, I found them at Macys. Red, sexy! A strap around the ankle.
“I always wanted a strap around my ankle,” I said to the air.
A young male store clerk watched me try them on and said, “Honey, you don’t want your pinky toe sticking out of those shoes.”
I looked down and indeed, my pinky toe was hanging out. I wanted to put my pinky toe in his eye because, at that point, I was desperate. Though the shoes fit snug, I bought them.
The next week I visited my trusty shoe repair man.
“Joe, find a way to make these shoes fit.” I said.
Joe said he would subject them to his super stretch machine.
“Don’t come back for five days though,” he told me. “That’s how long it’ll take for these babies to fit.”
Kathy was right. I needed shape wear. For the right “silhouette,” as the fashion world calls it. I found a light-weight garment called a “total body wrap.” It claimed to suck in the hips, the rear, the thighs, and the stomach. The trick, of course, was to tuck them all in at once. Getting it on was akin to wrestling a bear. Getting it off was heaven. I wanted the “silhouette” it provided, so I bought it anyway.
As I was leaving the store, I spied a silver shawl with threads of red and pink woven through it. And a lovely red organza rose pin for the slightly over exposed cleavage. Perfect. I was so happy, I hugged the lady in front of me in the checkout line.
Later, I sent Kathy an email. “The wedding attire is complete!”
She wrote back, “I knew you could do it! Brava!”
Now, I thought, if I can walk, talk, breathe and pee through the long hours from the ceremony to the farewells, I will be the most successful mother of the bride ever.
— Kaye Curren
Kaye Curren writes humor and essays for various blogs and magazines and on her website at www.writethatthang.com. This piece is an excerpt from her upcoming book, A Wedding in Spain: A Mother’s Journey.