I suffered the indignity of trying to find a Christmas dress.
Entire Canadian forests' worth of fashion magazine print (and pictures) have been devoted to the Little Black Dress. The staple, we're told, of a woman's wardrobe. Except that I don't have one. And I'm not exactly little any more. Neither are my dresses.
I have to go to the company Christmas party, wearing something other than a sweater and skirt. I have a reception (for work again) to go to in January, in a fancy hotel with clients and guys in suits and whatnot, and I have to dress like a goddamn grownup. Fancy. Something that looks like the swanky woman in a movie would wear. Something that doesn't scream "forty-five-year-old-mom-from-the-suburbs-who-escaped."
I shopped with my thin, pre-pubescent, eleven-year-old daughter Tadpole, who looks adorable in everything. Really. She's beautiful, she's young, and she's sweet enough to not know yet how lovely she is. We found a black velvet dress with a white bow, little-girlish enough, and a little bit grown up. She will look beautiful. She already does.
Then it was my turn. Lucky for me, Tadpole was content to sit outside the fitting room and text on her newly-acquired cell phone. Some things I want to tackle alone. Like zipping large dresses over my even-larger hips.
I wasn't always this size. But fourteen years of kids, twenty-five years of work on a computer which means I only get paid when I'm sitting down, lethargy, Oreo therapy, and a love for every carbohydrate ever baked has its price. The price, now, is that once I venture out of my sweaters and mom jeans, I have curves in all the wrong places, and bulges where nothing should bulge, and sizes with numbers on them that I refuse to admit. Or divulge.
I plead with the dresses. I'll go back to Weight Watchers! I signed up for the gym last week and I've been three times, doesn't that count for anything?
The dresses are silent. They just hang there, enormous, and refusing to zip.
Can't I get a nice Christmas-themed brown paper sack? Perhaps a shower costume, a la The Karate Kid?
These dress makers don't understand. I may be this size, but I don't rock it like some suburban white Aretha Franklin. I don't want anything strapless. Nothing that plunges or clings or sticks or reveals.
I don't want a clone of what I might wear if I wasn't this size.
I'd like something with sleeves, but something that doesn't look like a nun's habit. Something without too much lace calling attention to my stomach. Something without a bow on the butt. Nothing that wraps around, threatening to unwrap itself if I move, or if I bend over the buffet table. But maybe it's the buffet table that got me here. And I'd like to breathe now and then.
Another undignified trip out to the racks. A bigger size in that one. An oh-my-god-are-you-kidding for that one. Who ever thought of a cocktail dress in purple denim? Really?
I finally found one that zips. It's plain, black, no ruffles, no lace, no butt-bow. I have an awesome multi-colored scarf that will look perfect with it. I found some flat shoes that I can wear and not break my neck. Super-control black tights hide a multitude of Cookies of Christmas Past.
And I'm going to the gym tomorrow.