THE Dress, I guess

Dress shopping, I’d heard horror stories of it taking months. People travel to different cities, hit up boutiques, mass chains, and the Internet. The Internet! Full of pages and pages of models in white dresses and the thought – I won’t look good in any of these. Only models get married.

But I try any way. It’s no pressure, really. I mean, it’s not like the dress is something people even really take note of.... people being 200 of your closest friends, acquaintances, family friends and their plus ones who are all looking at you. Not to mention that you are going to be professionally photographed for the first time since basketball senior year of high school.

I’ll go ahead and skip lengthy descriptions of tulle heaven in plastic wrap – white, beads! a mannequin with her sweet-heart strapless down around her hips, a customer in scrubs with tattoos on her arms, and shoes and veils. Purity is gaudy, I guess.

And I’m in the dressing room with a slip, a poof slip, and a low-backed corset top. Sales-lady Heather is going to help me with the dress, but she’s let me fend for myself with the under garments (and I’d call them something more crass than under garments, but the way they hold up and lace down and pack in is truly medieval). The corset thing’s a problem: it has a dozen eyelet hooks running up the back. There is no way to both wrench the thing shut around my torso and match and hook all those suckers unless I put it on backwards. So I do this, and the little bra part cups my scapula, and I’d swing it around but it’s a corset... thing, and it has ribbing and grip tape and apparently brides are supposed to look as conical as possible.

I like the first dress I try; my mom keeps asking me if I can breathe ok. I can breathe... ok. It takes both her and SL Heather to zip it all the way up. It reminds me more of an Easter dress I’d wear as a little girl—come to think of it, I got baptized in a similar outfit—than a wedding dress. But can we talk for a second about how wedding dresses tend to be glaringly ugly? They either look like tablecloths or curtains or doilies or lingerie or cupcakes. Women who wouldn’t so much embroider the pockets of blue jeans insist on having their busts covered in rhinestones for the big day. Weird. Brides, I think, have an unusual love for their breasts (push-up sweetheart tops galore) and for flowers and bows and not men... I guess.

But I like the first one ok. My dad walks in the store while I have it on. He doesn’t say anything, but I can tell he likes it ok too. He approves of the feather headpiece I’m wearing that my mom doesn’t care for (and he hasn’t even seen the Sex and the City movie). We practice walking around the store—me on his arm. Mom thinks we might not fit down the isle; it’s a cupcake dress.

So we buy it, and the whole thing wasn’t so bad. (Well, my parents buy it. I’m so grown up?) The dress actually has pockets... for snacks or rubbers I guess. And the manicured man behind the register says it looked elegant even though I think he means baptismal or like a toga married (ha, marriage! everybody’s doing it) an air pump.


The First Day of Summer

3:05. Break is over, but I won’t go back inside.

3:06. I’m late to everything – sometimes unseemly late.

Grass and short stories. The sun makes it warm out here, tranquilizing, for the first time this year.

A lady came to the front door yesterday. She wore a long white skirt and squatted on her chunky heels to talk to me. I was sitting on the front landing, reading, sunning myself. She handed me “Watch Tower” magazine. There was a photo of a blonde woman on the cover. She was holding her temples. It read, “Do you have enough time?” the crouching woman, cropped auburn hair, pointed out the article to me, but she said it looked like I had enough time.

3:07. I’m squeezing the minutes.

Cherry blossoms. Quail sometimes burst out of the tall grass (burnt whiskers) next to me. The range of hills opposite still has patches of snow. And if they ask, check the clocks, I’ll probably say something like, “But have you seen how nice it is outside?” And if I were a better person, I’d say, “I quit.”


At Happy Hour

Jessica, Jessica Allen (new to me, Jess’s friend from church), and I sat drinking $3 margaritas at a bar by the Sound—by a marina, a forest of white masts. There were rows of white hulls, more like fleets of bobbing seagulls than anything else. Expensive seagulls. I ate a bucket of apetizer shrimp and Jess and Jessica both had nachos.

Church. Jesus and church. Every other group discussion I have these days is about those two. Pastor Ellen is trying to take alcohol out of the downtown Seattle Presbyterian community. No more ladies’ club nights or happy hours before Bible study. Ellen is from Texas.

And you know, I can see it. The reason brought to session: some people are alcoholics, and the church should be a safe place to socialize. Social events shouldn’t make this THING harder than it already is.

But there’s this other thing too—a goal of purity, discipline, starvation to perfection. Order. Control, at least of yourself, and, in Ellen’s case, those whom you can influence.

Jessica told me that her cigarette-smoking ponytailed Italian (as in from Italy) fling alerted her to the primary definition of the word decadence: rot.

Decadence, decadence. What is it? Only a clear movement toward death or, preferably, non-humanity.

And Jesus turned whole jugs of water into wine when the partiers were already drunk. And we wine drinkers love him for it. First miracle! Bring out beer and cosmopolitans at night and Bloody Maries with our eggs for breakfast. Mimosas come a little later and keep coming while we tan our thighs and lower backs out in the sunshine. We lay on the ground.

The cryptic Jesus. Nomadic. Who, in my mind, has a gift for skipping stones. Gonna love you all seven days a week and not be cute about it. His blood is wine, for Christ’s sake... over the limit, under arrest.

... or preferably, non-humanity. As Fausto II and III [...] became more inanimate they moved closer to the time when like any dead leaf or fragment of metal they’d be finally subject to the laws of physics.

When Jesus arose from the dead did he have any blood left? Or between the Supper and the flogging was it dispersed in a flood of drunkenness? That culture conservatives would like to keep out of church events.

Jesus on Sundays—when the girls wear soft skirts and sandals that wrap around their ankles. Jesus in the desert not eating. Starved to perfection. Thin ankles.

I left our table two margaritas in and followed a maze of white corridors to the bathroom. I looked in the mirror over the automatic soap dispenser. I had a red glow in my face. A short woman with dark hair looked at me too.

“You are beautiful,” she said. “If my son weren’t so far away, I’d have him meet you.”

And All the time pretending it was a great struggle between the laws of man and the laws of God.

Italics: from V. by Thomas Pynchon