Wedding Dresses and Chicanery.

So I’m singing. In this Christmas doohickey. At my church.

Saints be praised, it’s just one wee lil song, and I’ve managed to pull off this sort of thing before. But this year, things are a bit different.

This year, see, we hillbillies is gettin all fancy-pants.

That’s right, our big Christmas shindig takes off this coming Saturday and Sunday night at 7 in formalwear.

Here South of the Maxon Dixon people’s idea of getting dressed up for ye olde Yule is somewhere in the vicinity of clean jeans and an unstained shirt.

You’d think that after all the years this pseudo-country girl spent dreaming of arriving at a Christmas party in a beautiful dress, I’da been better prepared for the dress code.

But no. I commenced shopping for said dress, a hunt that included three solid days in three cities attempting to find a frock that fit the following criteria:

1. Floor-length. This made my quest nearly impossible as The Short Dress has staked a tyrranical reign over Fall and Winter 07-08, and hath smote the Floor-Length Formal with an iron fist and strong right arm. Selah.
2. Solid of color. This means no rockabilly polka-dots. Boo hiss.
3. A correct FIT without showing as much skin as your Auntie Rita did at your cousin’s Bat Mitzvah.

After the third day of attempting to cram parts of my lanky self into skimpy, overpriced swaths of cheaply-stitched silk, I suddenly had the idea that I should cheat on The Mall by having a torrid affair with a Bridal Dress Shop.

Instant pay dirt. I spied the perfect satiny confection in mere minutes. This happened in November. Last week I ventured back to the Bridal Shop to have a fitting and order alterations; they called three days later to say the dress was done early, time to pick it up.

Then the fun began.

Now, the difference between a mall store and a Bridal Shop is like the difference between Jessica Alba and one of my grandmother’s footie socks.

Bridal Shops carry formalwear for all kinds of occasions, see, not just frothy white Cinderella days of wedded bliss. But you’d never know it.

That’s because Bridal Shops are staffed with women who know the three rules.

1. The customer walks in. She is polite and kind. You will kiss her butt.
2. The customer walks in. She is so distracted that she’s worn her underdrawers over her clothes. You will kiss her butt.
3. The customer walks in. She is a hateful, rude, zipperheaded Bridezilla. Pucker up, Honey.

Go ahead, customer, turn diva. Try. Your butt, my dear, will remain kissed.

I stepped through the door into thousands of yards of snowy satin, and immediately three ladies flew to me, their faces glowing, ready for me to regale them with the Fairy Tale Story Of My Engagement.

I realize now that–given my penchant for storytelling–I should have brewed up a dastardly tale on the spot involving shotguns, three toothless cousins named Cooter, and a chicken. But I digress.

As it was, I was so startled I literally dropped my purse.

(By the way, from here on out I’d like to refer to these workers as The Matri-Minstrels.)

“Helloooooo,” The Matri-Minstrels warbled in harmony, clapping their hands and doing freaky pirouettes. One of them stepped out in a solo: “Welcome to our stoooore! What is the name of your wedding, dear?”

Holy Toledo. I’d just stumbled into a Snowy Disney Slobberfest wearing a limp ponytail and a woefully informal overcoat. I threw one suspicious eyebrow toward the ceiling and retorted in my low-voiced drawl the most intelligent thing I could think of: “Uhn?”

“The wedding, dear!” Insisted soloist Minstrel McPerky beatifically.

“I’m not getting married,” I stammered, “I’m singin. In this Christmas doohickey. At my church.”

“Yes!” fawns Minstrel McPerky, “Of course! You can go back and try on your dress!”

Bluebirds zoomed in from the four corners of the Bridal Shop and landed on my shoulders, escorting me down a hall of gleaming mirrors to a delightful silver-haired Matri-Minstrel, who danced out and presented my satiny confection of a dress with a royal flush.

“Here, dear!” She said, whisking me into a fitting room. I wriggled into the dress, which fit like a glove and didn’t disappoint at all.

Did I mention they don’t really have mirrors in Bridal Shops? No, no, no. They have pedestals nestled in an enormous half-circle of mirrors, so you can feel like you were just crowned Miss Watermelon Pits every day of the dang year.

On another note, pedestals give me the willies. Have you read the Bible? I’m pretty sure they’re against my religion. But I digress.

The seamstress clapped in delight as I stepped onto a pedestal and spun to check the alterations.

All this time, Seamstress Matri-Minstrel is grilling me about the upcoming concert. How many times am I singing? Does my song have a name?

“Light a Candle.” I tell her.
“Ooh!” drools Seamstress Matri-Minstrel, “will you sing it for me right now?”

No. NO.

“Okay,” I am horrified to hear my assertive self conceding aloud.

So I burst out in song too, warbling about Christmas candles–badly, I might add– for a crowd of Matri-Minstrels whose lip prints may remain permanently fused to my non-existent derriere.

As I finish, who should pop in but the Manager of The Matri-Minstrels?

The Matri-Minstrel Manager has come prepared to glorify my skinny arse in excelsis deo until my wallet pops an artery and bleeds a massacre of greenbacks all over her pretty store.

“And who is this?” she coos with more fake fascination than a Sunday School teacher uses for a three-year-old. That did it. I couldn’t take the Stepford-osity another second.

“Excuse me ladies,” I said over my shoulder as I flew toward the dressing room in a billowing satin inferno, “You might not want to follow me in here unless you’re looking for more Mardi Gras than Christmas.”

The Matri-Minstrels roared, giggled, and slapped their knees at my unfunny joke.

I’ve since decided to rename the Bridal Shop. I think I’m going to call it “The Hall of Gratuitous Praise.” Whatchyall think?




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