Saturday, February 18, 2012

Twelve Bees

An oldie, in honor of upcoming prom dress hunting...

Twelve Bees

Why was I blubbering? This was supposed to be a quick shopping trip with Shana to buy a prom dress. Just one more errand on a busy Saturday and suddenly it's a major Kleenex fest. After coming up empty at three mall stores, we found ourselves at a fancy little dress boutique. Shawn was sitting in the dad chair, reading the dad magazines, when Shana came around the corner. We ignored her dirty face and ratty, unwashed hair from a post-softball game, post-cosmic bowling, post-up-all-night slumber party to see our baby girl looking suddenly all grown up. Even Shawn got a little teary-eyed. 

She had on a beautifully embroidered, butter-colored satin dress, not very promy, but it was stunning. I’m sure the nice saleslady had us pegged from the moment we walked in and put Shana on her “I’m gonna to sell this girl a dress today” radar. Roxanne had another thing coming, though. I knew I couldn’t afford anything in there. The balance in my end-of-the-month checking account was so low I didn’t even look at any of the dangling, laminated price tags, so I stayed calm as the dresses kept coming. A cupcake bright pink taffeta with a full skirt, a pure white wedding-like gown, a long, skinny orange silk that made Shana look like a popsicle, and a really tight red spandex number that made her look like a, well, you know. After totally messing up the dressing room, Shana hit the jackpot when she slipped on a gorgeous lavender dress with black and silver beading. It laced up in the back and fit her perfectly. She looked like a princess. Roxanne just lit up and said it wouldn’t even need alterations. She didn’t have a clue. We’re not worried about alterations, lady. We’re just browsing.

Shana kept mentioning that the store only sells one dress style per high school per season, so no two girls would ever show up wearing the same thing. According to Shana, that would be a nightmare. Roxanne thought so, too.  I was thinking they were both insane when a girl walked in to buy her dress, only to find it had already been sold. She had a meltdown right there on the floor. Roxanne looked over at me with an “I told you so” smile as the girl’s mom rushed over to console her. After Little Miss Sunshine calmed down, her mom sidled up to me like I was her new best friend and desperately explained that there are no dresses left out there and we are all too late for the dress search marathon. Just for a second, I felt a tiny bit of angst – was I too late, too? I prayed Roxanne didn’t notice. She could sell a blow-the-budget dress to one of these lunatics today, but not to me.

I had gotten off pretty easy with the formal dresses quota since Shana started high school, only one formal in the past three years. We scored big when we found a designer dress at a resale shop about four hours before her Cotillion dance. The zipper was broken, so I had to pin in the poor kid for the night, but she looked great. Her Homecoming dances have been themed costume parties, so I got another break there, too. One year it was “New York” and Shana dressed up like a taxi. She made it herself and spoke with a really thick Bronx accent. This year she was a bumble bee for the “Enchanted Forrest” dance. She looked so adorable covered in huge yellow and black stripes, a little stinger and a floppy chrome antenna. She reminded me of John Belushi in that old Saturday Night Live killer bee skit, buzzing around and around.

So I guess I wasn’t prepared when she wailed, “Mom, I have to have this dress! Itfitsperfectlyit’sonlyfourhundreddollarsandIloveitplease. It’s a once in a lifetime event!"  “I know, Honey, it’s beautiful, " I nodded. "Wait. Did you just say four hundred dollars? Are you crazy? This is just prom, Shana, junior prom. My wedding dress was less than four hundred dollars.” She looked devastated as she sulked back to the dressing room.  A few minutes later, from behind the door, I heard her sadly whisper,  “At the Homecoming dance I was one of twelve bees.”

I took a deep breath and said, “Okay, Roxanne, ring it up.”

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