The First Time’s the Charm

By Erika Hoffman

The First Time's the Charm

When I was a mother-in-law-to-be the first time, I chose the first dress the saleslady showed me, even though I took my good pal with me to prevent me from doing that very thing. That day, I had planned to buy a champagne hued dress, aka beige. I ended up with fuchsia. It was stunning and fit great. No regrets.

Therefore, this time, for the upcoming April nuptials of another son, I decided to trek back to the same shop with Laura again and search for another dress. Two days before my planned shopping spree, my buddy, Beth, over the phone said, “Wear that pink gown you wore before; it was lovely.”

“I can’t do that,” I replied. “It’s in the photos from my other’s son’s wedding. Everyone will remember it!”

Beth laughed. “I’m gonna wear the same dress for my second son’s wedding that I wore to the first.”

“I wouldn’t do that,” I warned.

“Then I’ll wear my long black gown.”

“Black? I wouldn’t do that, either,” I stated.

Beth laughed. She then asked, “What does your future daughter-in-law say about the dress you should wear?”

“She told me to wear anything I want. She said she just wants me to be happy.”

“Yeah, mine said the same thing,” Beth said. “So, I’m going to wear what I want.”

“The difference between you and me is: When they say: ‘Wear anything,’ you believe them!”

The next day I attended Bible Study and mentioned my upcoming dress shopping. I was prepared to drive all the way to Wendell, a good hour and a half distance, to the store where I’d bought my last mother-of-the-groom gown two years ago.

“Why do that?” a woman in our study group asked. “Dina Porter has lovely mother-of-the-groom dresses. It’s only fifteen minutes away.”

So, that afternoon I redirected myself and headed to Chapel Hill to check out their clothes. Before I pulled into the mall, I phoned Connie, a pal in the area. She agreed to meet me.

I entered the shop. A sales lady greeted me. After some preliminary chat, the sales gal queried me on the hues of the bridesmaids’ gowns and the color of the suits of the groomsmen. I told her a Bellini tint for the evening gowns and navy for the guys’ suits.

“Bellini?” she inquired.

“Like the drink. Peachy.”

“I have just the thing!” She strode away and returned instantly with a layered, fuchsia dress – a doppelganger for the one I’d worn a year and a half ago to my other son’s wedding.

I smiled and shook my head no. She looked perplexed. She asked, “Not your taste?”

I told her why I was amused. At this point, Connie showed up, and I related the uncanny coincidence.

“That fuchsia evening gown you wore was perfect for you,” Connie said.

The clerk returned with a similarly styled dress, only in turquoise. Instead of an accompanying scarf like my previous “m.o.g.” gown, this dress had a sheer jacket.

“I’ll try it on,” I said. The piece didn’t wow me on the hanger. It was smaller than my usual size so I was certain I’d not be able to squeeze into it. I did, though. I walked out of the change room for the inspection.

Connie and three salesclerks gawked.

“Looks great!” one said.

“That’s your style,” said another.

“Except for maybe a little pulling up in the shoulders, it fits,” said the third.

“You should get it!” said Connie.

Déjà vu all over again. I looked in the mirror. The dress slenderized, complemented my complexion, and didn’t need hemming despite my short stature. Also, the price was reasonable: Much less than I expected to pay.

“I should try on some more,” I said, “although I do like this one.”

“Of course,” said the clerk, and within minutes they had hauled out five more dresses.

I tried on a blue dress with a top and skirt ensemble. I walked out to where Connie sat.

Connie shook her head sideways. The others looked glum. I glanced in the mirror and understood their long faces. Thumbs down, huh? I returned to the dressing room and changed into the light green one. I sauntered out.

“The bodice doesn’t look right,” Connie said.

The sales clerk added, “Because she has it on backwards.” I ducked back in my cubicle and turned it around 180 degrees and re-surfaced.

“Not much better,” said Connie.

I returned to the dressing room. I tried a gown with an Oriental theme, but the skirt didn’t zip so the gaping back ruled that one out. Next, I slipped on the purplish frock that I had admired on the rack. It had bunches of material folded to resemble roses, planted on various parts of the dress.

I emerged.

“What do you think?” I said, hopeful. Subsequently, I glanced down at my bosom and noticed that a couple of the rose petals were positioned in a strange place on the jacket and now jutted straight out, blooming.

“Those roses look like pasties,” remarked Connie.

The sales ladies smiled.

“Don’t want everyone noticing that!” I said.

“You’d be the talk of the wedding!” Connie said.

I re-entered the fitting room for the umpteenth time and scanned the hangers. I hollered out, “I’ve tried them all.”

“Slip on that first one again,” shouted a trio of voices. So, I reappeared in the blue ruffled gown with crystals trailing from various edges. I could see instantly as I studied my reflection that this dress outperformed the others.

“That’s the best!” they clamored.

“It’s the first one I tried on, just like last time.”

“For my son’s wedding, I chose the first one I tried on,” said Connie.

“Sometimes, you luck out the first time!” said a salesclerk.

I thought to myself: Marriage is like that, too. Sometimes you know when it just feels right, and you just luck out the first time.

About this writer

  • Erika Hoffman Erika Hoffman views most travel experiences as educational experiences and sometimes the lessons learned are revelations about oneself.

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