We have a lot of choices to make in this life, and a lot of those choices assume the ability to make a firm commitment. To many people this is not a problem. To many people, their goals and desires are fully in hand and their selections are pretty much black and white.
As for the others...
It's pink or blue or purple or full or slinky or sequined or long or short or strapless or... please pardon the insane ramblings of the mother of a prom dress seeker. Yes, these aren't the choices of worldly importance, decisions of war and finance and national security. Nations will not collapse, nor will lives be ruined if the wrong selection is made. Unless you are 18.
A couple of weeks ago we ambled through the local mall at a leisurely pace fingering the soft, silky and filmy materials of the proms gowns displayed on well busted mannequins. Everything seemed the same, row after row, a blur of lookalikes. Then 'it' caught our eye.
It was pretty, it was sexy, it was the kind of dress that made you stop. It looked even better on. BUT, this store does not allow returns. You must drape yourself in twenty dollars worth of material shaped into two hundred dollars worth of dress and stand in a closet with a half mirror and make a decision for one of the most special nights of your life. No taking it home, adding shoes, parading around in a three way, getting the comments of your friends and family and changing your mind. No customer satisfaction here.
"I'm not sure"..."Suppose I find something better"... So, wistfully we walked away from what I was sure was the perfect dress. However, it's an expensive mistake to make, so we erred on the side of caution.
Last weekend we decided the time was right. Actually it was more like the time was nigh...and if a decision was not reached soon, she'd be dancing in the Lady Godiva look.
We left our home at 1 P.M. and drove about 45 minutes to a local store. We entered with great trepidation, having memories of last year's visit when the saleswoman from hell came damn close to physical abuse in her efforts to convince us we were the most fashion-challenged people on the face of the earth for not liking the horrible things she was literally shoving in our faces.
Luckily we were met with someone so nice we considered purchasing something we weren't sure we wanted in thanks. But, we logged in our choices and kept them firmly in mind and set out with the comforting knowledge that should we fail elsewhere we were still set. It took the edge off the desperation tucking it away to a quiet niggling.
Our next destination was two hours away, as we drove through the spring?? day with sleet and snow pelting us. Knowing our itinerary, speed limits were tested to the max. We were on a mission and had no time for lawfulness.
Finding a parking place directly in front of this store was to us like karma, a fate, a certainty that inside those hallowed doors was our 'find', that we would not have to complete the last legs of our intended journey, that victory would be ours right here and now.
And find we did, never have I seen so much tulle and lace and glitter and satin. Armed, or I should say two-armed, with our choices we crammed five dresses and two females into a three by three room.
My daughter had no preconceived notions as to the style or color of the dress she wanted, she was keeping an open mind. The selection of items we selected bore out that fact. Each one was lovely in its own right and speaking not biased as her mother, each one looked lovely on her.
Well, perhaps I was a little less inclined to care for the one with the cutouts that bared skin where one expects coverage. And the strapless one brought forth gales of mirth as it fell down as quickly as she pulled it up. We still aren't sure what holds it in place. Oh...yeah...really?
However, once she donned the last one, we knew we loved it. It was not debatable, we loved it. She paraded around the room outside as others smiled and looked on with shared enthusiasm. She felt good, she looked good, she wanted.
She looked at the price tag.
Sometimes it's hell to have a frugal child.
She doesn't understand the concept of a bird in the hand, she didn't buy the argument that we found it, we could discontinue our search, that if we didn't get it, someone else would and it would be gone if we didn't find anything else later. She didn't see the savings in gas and time and sales tax by making the decision here. She bought none of that, nor did she buy the dress.
And so we struck out, hell bent on our next destination another nearly two hours away. I spent the better part of the first hour trying to get her to let me turn around, to no avail.
As we slammed the car doors behind us at the store everyone had told her was 'the best', she was heard to say, "Please God, let me find something". It took only the time to open the double doors and enter the richly carpeted store to realize that unless the prom was held in New York City or that her nickname was 'Jugs', we were way out of our league.
Depression quickly crossed her face, her normally sunny smile gone, the color of her skin taking on a sickening green. The day suddenly became more cloudy.
Assuming the role of soothing consoling counselor I made vain attempts to lay out our options. After all, we still had the first choices, we still could take out a ten year loan on the second...
Silently we climbed back into the car, and headed to our last gasp, another nearly two hours away...the dreaded MALL! I soon grew tired of listening to my own reassurances.
And so, we found ourselves after a seven hour three hundred mile trip through sleet and snow, chafed by fifty dresses in two states, to the place we'd ambled through two weeks prior.
We bought the original dress she tried on first, that's pretty and pink and still sexy enough to turn a head at the place where if we buy it we own it. She was positive she wanted it, despite my death grip on the credit card and my pleas to her to be sure.
Home we came where she added shoes and paraded around in front of a three way, family and friends...and as I knew, decided she doesn't like it after all. But, we bought it, we own it. It's done.
She must this week decide between the five universities that have accepted her for this fall. She must write four of them and thank them for their desire for my dollars and her sense, then write the fifth...a check, a non-refundable check.
How can she make a decision about four years of her life when she can't reach one for just prom night?
I think it's a pretty safe bet that she'll never walk down an aisle of a church with this fear of commitment. Either that or she'll have two churches, with a guy in each as she paces back and forth between them...
And of course she'll have two wedding dresses.