Thursday, 14 April 2016

Three Dresses and a Pair of Shoes

Yesterday I gave away three dresses and a pair of shoes. They went to the costume box of two deserving girls to be shared (if possible) by their young neighbour. I loved two of the dresses and the shoes to distraction, which is why they have gone to friends, not the charity shop.

The blue-green half-lace evening dress.  This is a beautiful dress, but it's only meaning for me is that I bought it at Value Village in northernmost Toronto with my sister Tertia. At the time I had been on the 5-2 diet for months and so it almost fit. I was sure it would fit perfectly in another month.

It didn't.

The sky blue silk Indian Bollywood suit. It was made for me off Toronto's "Indian Bazaar" neighbourhood in 2003 and includes a silver-spangled top, an ankle-length skirt and a matching dupatta (scarf/shawl). It was for International Night at the theologate. I had asked an Asian friend to do a Bollywood dance because I was frankly bored with the annual line-up of Irish and Scottish deedle-deedle. My friend said she'd only dance if I danced with her. The effort she put into teaching me how to dance was truly heroic. When we danced it, we brought the house down. Imagine a table full of slightly homesick Asian Jesuits going nuts. You had to be there.

Here is the song we danced to:

I actually knew the words.

The amusing Part 2 to this story is that we danced it later at the Newman Center and afterwards everybody except one widely smiling South Asian guy stared at us with glassy eyes and shocked expressions. My friend was surprised and disappointed. Apparently 99% of the audience thought we had sinned against the chaste environment of the Newman Centre. We were, like, whaaa?

The copper lamé evening dress. Okay, so the lamé is a thin filmy layer on top of a dark layer and was frayed here and there from sheer time, the dress having been tailored to fit my then snake-like form in 1998, I think it was. This was at the height of my amateur boxing career, and I thought I would weight 117 lbs for the rest of my life. It had copper, high square heeled sandles to match, aye me. It cost an arm and a leg, but did I care? No. It is high necked and high backed but had no sleeves at all--it scooped towards the collar bones, if that makes any sense. It showed off my then arms--like twisted vines, y'all--to perfection. Sigh.

 I wore it to a wedding; the bride and groom later divorced. The divorce hit me like a betrayal. I thought her family life was perfect; she had always told me it was. No matter how awful my own personal life was, I always thought, "Well at least everything is great for X."  To put it in a nutshell, she left him for a sexier, more exciting guy. When she told me (over the phone), my brother and sister-in-law were just moving into the first house they bought and my days-old nephew was in a basket on a table, out of the way of the boxes. I am trying to think of a non-clichéd way to say my blood ran cold. Never, before or since, has someone else's love life/marriage disaster had such a powerful effect on me. Having been a guest at the wedding, I weakly attempted to "defend the bond", but it was too late: she was already with the new guy.

And then I did the absolutely socially unspeakable from the BFF  point of view: I wrote to her husband to say I was sorry for his loss.

You can see why I never, ever got rid of that dress.

The shoes.  Irregular Choice, the Scotty dog on one shoe, the leash continuing on the other, grass green, pink heels.  (See photo.) I hadn't been long married to B.A. On sale,  I think they were £45. I loved them, and then one of my feet shrank, apparently. Alas.

But now off they go to some deserving girls, who will dress up in them and imagine great imaginings. The shoes, I know, will be part of a 1950s murder game. (The blue-green dress would work, too.) The Bollywood outfit would work for a princess or a beggar maid or one becoming the other. The copper lamé--well, who knows? Cleopatra, perhaps. At any rate, they will be loved just as I loved them, and will be put to better use and by girls who will at least be able to get into them, however long or short the skirts. They have gone to a good home. I hope they will be worn to death.


  1. Sorry about your friends' divorce. That sucks.

    It's so awesome that you wore that to their wedding though, because it sounds like a proper formal dress, and I've noticed people do not tend to wear those to weddings much anymore. Is the dress long? Are long dresses allowed at weddings or are they just for the bridal party?


    1. It sucks so much I almost cried over it this morning, just thinking about it. Of course, I'm short on sleep. Still, so much going on there, including finding out that my BFF couldn't really have been my BFF after all. Sniff. Well, this was years and years ago.

      The dress wasn't for the wedding service but for the reception. (I wore something else for the service.) The dress fell to my shapely ankles. I don't have as much as a photo of me in that dress, can you believe it? The only photos that show my sculpted form involve me having my face punched in the ring. The group photo afterwards features my massive adrenaline-fuelled grin and my swollen schnozz. Oh the humanity.

  2. Love love love the Bollywood dancing story. The most genuinely womanly and alluring dance I ever saw was from a group of Rwandan women at the parish hall during a patronal feast celebration.

    1. I can well believe that! I love traditional "women's dances" so much more than... ballet. No insult meant to the balletomanes, but I did ballet for ten years and... Anyway, I love traditional "women's dances." I've tried flamenco and belly-dancing too.