Better Than Nice

By Rose Ann Sinay

Better Than Nice

My son was getting married in three weeks, and I didn’t have a dress. I had been searching for several months for the right gown. You know, the one that makes you look tall (I’m 5′ 2" on my driver’s license) and willowy (thank goodness it doesn’t list your weight or I would have to be creative with that, too). Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a single dress that met those specifications.

The bride, the most important part of this occasion, had already chosen a beautiful creation that fit her perfectly and reflected her romantic soul. The groom, my sneaker-fanatic son, had found a pair of brown “dress” sneakers with purple soles that matched his magenta tie and unique style.

My husband, Terry, had even realized that his good suit was not that good any more. A five minute stop at Belk took care of that. He pointed at the rack, “That one’s fine.” And it was; it was that easy.

The bride’s mother, Charlene, and I commiserated long distance, frustrated with our lack of success in finding that special dress. Secretly, I was comforted that we were in the same boat. After years of simply adding a necklace, a bracelet and a second coat of mascara to bump up our look, this search had taken on an unexpected sense of anxiety. Our choices seemed too clingy, too young or too matronly. Although we were simply the accoutrement, we wanted to be the best we could be.

A month earlier, when there was plenty of time, I had enlisted a group of my friends to go shopping with me. Surely, four pairs of eyes were better than one.

“You should wear blue,” one friend said.

“No, a deep maroon,” another advised.

“You do know you can wear black to weddings these days, don’t you?” the third informed me.

We went from store to store, all of us selecting and rejecting jewel-toned, earthy-hued, pastel-tinted, and yes, black dresses. My friends formed a brigade, passing gowns that flowed from the racks into my dressing room. Some of the dresses did not make it past the hips, but vanity didn’t allow me to ask for a bigger size. The full length, flaw-revealing mirrors in the dressing room made me realize two things: shiny satin was not my friend, and sometimes, bare arms should be covered. At the end of the day, there was no Cinderella (mother’s) gown and I realized that I should have had a dress tailored to fit me. Now it was too late.

My next attempt to secure the illusive dress was on the internet. I scrolled through dozens of sites trying to put together what I had learned from my hands-on shopping expeditions. I found the perfect, rose colored, two piece dress. After weeks of waiting, it finally arrived. I promptly sent it back in the return mail.

Then came the call; Charlene had found a dress. An iridescent gray with a gathered shawl neckline – I could visualize the gown that would set off her dark hair and taller, trim figure. Of course, I was happy for her. But now, the boat we were sharing was totally mine, and it was sinking fast.

I grabbed my keys and my husband. “We are going shopping,” I informed him on the way out the door.

“You don’t want me to go with you,” he argued. “What do I know about dresses? Call one of your friends.”

“You’re it,” I said starting the engine.

After a pit stop at McDonald’s for a double cheeseburger and milkshake to fortify him for the task ahead, we arrived at the Coastal Grand Mall.

We started with the bridal shop and worked our way through the stores.

“It looks fine,” he said as I paraded dress after dress. They all looked “fine.”

After three hours, tired and cranky, and having expended his sugar/carb laden high, Terry announced that we were done. He had had enough.

“Yes,” I agreed. “But just one more stop.” Dillard’s was my last chance.

Desperate to end the agony, I loaded my arms with gowns in every color and multiple sizes. As I headed to fitting room, my husband picked up a drab brown dress with a jacket. I hadn’t given it a second look.

“What about this one?” he asked.

“It’s so…so matronly,” I replied.

“I think it’s nice. Just try it,” he said, adding it to the pile in my arms. I reluctantly obliged. It had been his only recommendation of the day. I would try the nice dress. He sat in the chair in front of the dressing room and waited.

Feeling guilty for wasting so much time on what should have been a simple task, I slipped in and out of the gowns at record speed. The few that I modeled were met with the same response. They were fine, nice. I was down to the last dress – the mud colored one that my grandmother might have worn. I sighed heavily as I removed the jacket from the hanger. The tiny gold beads that covered it sparkled under the lights. The muddy tint was actually more like a rich, mocha latte. I easily slipped the sleeveless dress on and zipped it up – all the way up without a struggle. The chiffon overskirt flowed gracefully to the floor. The jacket with its three quarter sleeves fit perfectly.

Was it a fluke, or was it that special insight that comes with so many years of a happy marriage, I wondered? I wished that insight for my son and his future wife.

As I floated out of the room and pirouetted in front of my husband. I waited for him to say, I told you so.

Instead, he smiled with relief.

“It’s beautiful,” he said. “It’s the one.”

And it was.

About this writer

  • Rose Ann Sinay Rose Ann Sinay is a freelance writer typing away in sunny North Carolina. Her articles/stories have been published in The Carolinas Today, The Oddville Press and The Brunswick Beacon.

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12 Responses to “Better Than Nice”

  1. Diane Quackenbush says:

    Another fabulous heartfelt read!!! I have decided to always read your stories before I put on any makeup. Nice job Ro.

  2. kathy strunk says:

    great story Roe…. and I saw the pictures, the dress was perfect. You looked beautiful!

    • Rose Ann says:

      Aw…thanks, Kathy! I give Terry all the credit for putting an end to the ordeal in such a nice way…too bad he doesn’t mention it when I have spinach in my teeth, LOL!

  3. Charlene Houghton says:

    Beautifully written and thank you for the historical fiction! “Tall” and “trim”!!

  4. mary bosma says:

    Loved the story Rose Ann! I could just picture you trying on dress after dress and all the “oh just not for me” that goes with it. And of course then having Terry find that perfect dress! I love reading your stories….you have such a gift!

    • Rose Ann says:

      I give my husband all the credit for hanging in there and knowing me better than I know myself! Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary!!

  5. Linda O'Connell says:

    My dear husband and I went through the same thing. I usually shop all day and then return to the first store. Enjoyed your story.

  6. Ida Konow says:

    Your stories are always so wonderfully descriptive. It made me feel as if I was a “fly on the wall” watching it all unfold.

  7. Rose Ann says:

    Ida, thank you for your kind comments . . . it makes me want to sit down and write!!

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