Long Suffering Spouse and I were in the car when Older Daughter called to announce that the MOG had procured her gown. Thus, the conversation was on speaker and I could hear, and participate if necessary.
Of course Older Daughter supplied considerably more detail than this, but, being male, what I heard and retained was as follows: The dress was blue and it was long.
Even I know that it would not do for the Mother of the Bride to wear a dress too similar to that worn by the MOG, so I offered an immediate suggestion. "Good," I said, "your mother will get a red miniskirt."
Silence on the other end.
"Yes," I continued, "a red miniskirt. Maybe with slits."
Long Suffering Spouse was signaling me at me to shut up but she said nothing. And she was driving.
And Older Daughter still had not responded.
"Really short," I said. "Yeah...." I elongated the words to emphasize that my imagination was in Overdrive. Why is it taking so long to provoke a response? I wondered. Usually Older Daughter rises to the bait immediately. She must really be stressed, I thought.
Finally, though, my efforts were rewarded:
"Eeeeeeeewwwwwwwwww," said Older Daughter.
Younger Daughter was elated at the prospect.
My late mother was a dedicated shopper. She was incapable of passing a "sale" sign. When she died we found that she had more shoes than Imelda Marcos. Many of them had never been worn. (I always figured this had something to do with growing up poor and fatherless in the Depression and worrying about where the next pair of shoes might come from. But this is strictly my speculation.) Anyway, my mother trained for shopping like an Olympic athlete: Practice, practice, practice. Long Suffering Spouse and I hate to shop -- but my mother would have been thrilled with Younger Daughter.
I've taken to calling Younger Daughter the Fashion Police. She invited herself along on the shopping expedition -- and immediately questioned why I would go at all.
"Mom asked me if you've tried to back out yet," Younger Daughter confided to me on Saturday morning. "Of course, I think you're very loyal for trying."
So the three of us set off for the malls. Long Suffering Spouse and I were the intrepid explorers. Younger Daughter was our native guide.
My first surprise was the Old Orchard parking lot: There was no place to park.
For crying out loud, I thought, don't these people know we're in a Recession? Besides... it was a beautiful day. Why would any person spend it in a store unless it was Absolutely Necessary?
I could understand driving around a mall parking lot in a desperate search for a parking spot late on one of the last shopping days before Christmas (that was one of the hurdles we faced in our December quest for earmuffs) -- but I didn't expect it in May.
Eventually, though, we found a spot and hit the stores. Many of them.
Most of the fancy dresses on offer were prom dresses in useful sizes like 0 or 2. Obviously, anything you've heard about Americans getting heavier must be enemy propaganda. Americans-likely-to-buy-fancy-dresses, at least, are all tiny, emaciated waifs.
At one store (it may have been Nordstroms -- but they all run together in my mind) Long Suffering Spouse found two gowns that Younger Daughter persuaded her to try. Younger Daughter then tried to persuade me to come into the dressing area: Apparently, outside the actual changing stalls, a number of couches are set up for kibitzers. I declined. What about the other customers? Even in these modern times, I would have felt like a pervert.
The prospect of sitting appealed to me, though, and, thus inspired, I found a chair not too far away.
I was asleep within seconds.
Long Suffering Spouse was not amused.
Nor did she like either of the dresses. I will try, in my hopeless male way, to explain why she didn't like one of these: It might have been flattering to a person with abundant hips, because it emphasized the waist and bloused (?) out over the hips. My wife, whose hips are not so abundant, felt that the gown made it appear otherwise. I didn't see the other one on her.
There was a young girl hovering about trying to find other dresses for my wife to try. She tried to ingratiate herself with Younger Daughter -- and Younger Daughter saw in her a kindred spirit -- but Long Suffering Spouse was having none of it. When the girl proffered a purplish-blue dress, after she'd been sternly admonished that the MOG's dress was blue, my wife decreed that we would move on.
We moved on and on. Like refugees trudging down endless roads, we staggered from store to store. We learned that most of the remotely acceptable formals were blue -- Aha! So that's why the MOG got a blue dress!. The other popular color this year was dismissed by Long Suffering Spouse as "puke green." I didn't actually see that name on any label -- usually it was called seafoam or celery or, once, khaki -- but my wife's description struck me as being as accurate as any. A few were a darker shade of green... sort of a Civil Service Green... and if you're old enough to know what that is you'll wonder, as I did, why anyone would make a dress for a nice occasion in such an ugly color.
And, of course, there were black dresses. Lord & Taylor even had a separate "Little Black Dress" department. These were immediately excluded, however, as inappropriate for a Mother of the Bride dress. Even if the bridesmaids are wearing black... but that's a story for a different day.
We returned home discouraged.
I know I keep saying it... but this Internet thing might really catch on: There was much more variety online than on the rack. We formulated a Plan B: Long Suffering Spouse had already resolved to try a different mall in the morning... but if that failed, we'd order one of the dresses we picked out online. We could always have any necessary alterations made.
Long Suffering Spouse and Younger Daughter made the second trip without me.
They came back (many hours later) with a blue dress -- but a darker blue, we are assured, than that obtained by the MOG. (Oh, I hope so!) And Younger Daughter was absolutely thrilled with my wife's shoes... they were by some designer that our daughter just loves... BCBS... no, wait, that's the abbreviation for Blue Cross and Blue Shield... BCBG... yes, I'm pretty sure that's it.
Somewhere my mother is smiling.