A Bridesmaid's Dress Doesn't Have to Look Like a Nightmare

Marilyn has this chronic medical condition that occasionally keeps her out of school due to pain. She's grown tired of having to deal with it all the time so since she was out of school with pain again this Thursday, I decided we shouldn't wait another week for a scheduled appointment I'd made but go ahead and run to the doctor right then instead. Luckily, my supervisor is pretty flexible if it's an emergency, so we drove the hour it takes to get to a place where they actually like taking patients and seeing them (unlike this crazy place we live where doctors don't want any new patients. It's refreshing to see that some people actually do have enough money that they don't need any more work. I didn't think it was possible in this greed-driven society). Marilyn and I head out and find ourselves 30 minutes early for the appointment by the time we get near the hospital. So, like anyone would, we decide we have plenty of time to dash into a nearby bridal shop and look at the dresses they have on clearance in the back room for $10 each. This was the same store Jerry and I had gone into the week previously. I just wasn't sure about anything they had, but there was one really cute dress I thought suited Erin, but I remembered the price tag stating $88. You should know that one of my skills is the ability to pick out the most expensive item out of a group of items without seeing any price tags. I thought if I rechecked, maybe that price was wrong. Entering the store, we found no sales people around, unlike the first time we were there and the young salesgirl was chatting away on the phone, waiting about 5 minutes before coming over to ask us if we needed anything. I just love snooty salespeople who pretend to be so much better than the customers, as if someone coming in with money to spend is below her station in life - which she forgets is a $7.50 an hour salesgirl. There was a guy sitting at the front table, uninterestedly flipping through a tuxedo catalog. I asked him where the sales people were. "In the back, I think," he says. We walk to the back of the store, where fancy places usually keep their sale items, wanting you to walk a little extra effort for the amount of money you're about to save (like Marilyn's $300 prom dress we picked up elsewhere for $49 earlier this year). A sales girl pops out of a dressing room with a huge wedding gown, and said, "Oh, I'm so sorry I wasn't up front to welcome you! Can I help you find anything?" That's more like it. This girl had some manners. Then a tiny old lady pops out of another room asking if she can be of assistance. We tell her we're just looking, then Marilyn and I browse the dress selection. It didn't seem any smaller than the last time I was in, which was good. They had plenty of cute styles available, too. I pulled out the $88 dress. Oh, it was marked to $50. I asked if all the dresses on the rack weren't supposed to be $10. She said, "Most of them are, but not all," thereby validating my theory about being able to select the most expensive item. I further inspect the dress, pretending I'm very interested but really hoping she'll see I do like it and will just go ahead and mark it down since it's been here a while. Near the bottom I spot what looks like a snag in the organza. Hmm, a bargaining tool! I can cover this with flowers or something but she doesn't know that. I pull it up for closer inspection and see the word "sample" embroidered into the dress. That's weird! When I tell the sales girl, instead selling me the dress for $10, she says, "Oops! I'll take that," and walks away with it, disappearing into a room. Damn! Okay, we keep looking. All the dresses are too large, but look like they could be taken up. We find several hot pink tea length dresses, both strapless and very plain. Well, plain is one way to put it, but I prefer to think of them as "ready for embellishment". Marilyn liked them, too, which was good. Grabbed them both off the rack, made sure they didn't have the word "sample" sewn on anywhere, and headed up to the register. Now we had 20 minutes to get to the hospital. Same poor guy sitting at the table, still flipping through catalogs. Nobody up front again. I had seen the young girl go into the dressing room where a chubby bride-to-be was trying to squeeze into a gown that was just a little too small for her, as evidenced by all of the shifting and wiggling she was doing. The old lady then strolls up front and asks us if this is all we need today. I hand her the dresses and think this is going to be quick and painless. Wrong! She puts a key in the cash register, types in some numbers, tries again because she's entered them wrong. Okay, she's in! Nope, wait just a bit more - she's wiggling the computer mouse over and over, saying, "Wake up, wake up!" like the machine can hear her. It finally starts working, and I think, "She's gonna key in $10 two times, get the tax added on immediately and then we're out the door." Wrong again. Apparently the computer won't start working until it has my first name. She has to put on her glasses and type in my name. Then she has to enter the codes on the tags before putting in the price. The bride to be comes out in a tight strapless number, spilling out of the top with abundant cleavage and body art everywhere. I have to fight the urge to say, "That dress really shows off your tattoos!" I figured my joke would have been taken as a compliment by this member of the Tattoo Generation, so there really was no point. I doubt the place sells long-sleeved bridal gowns with turtlenecks. I hope the doctor's office isn't closed for lunch by the time we get there. Marilyn figured out this was going to be a long process and strolls over to the full price bridesmaids dresses. She pulls out ones she likes and shows them to me. She points to details on the dresses, letting me know these are good ideas for things to add to the dresses we're getting. She's such a smart girl, even when she's ill. Alright, we have a grand total of $21.86! Gimme my dresses and I'm outta here! But not before she has to pull a clear plastic bag off of a roll and try desparately to find the opening. I'm ready to snatch the plastic out of her hands, roll it around the dresses and run out to the car but remain calm instead. Finally, she gets it open!! She's got to stretch on her tip toes to reach the top of the hangers on the rack by the cash register, she's that short. I think I hear her foot bones snapping from osteoporosis, she's so brittle looking. It's on, but she can't quite seem to manage pulling it down around the dresses. The physics seem to have her confounded. When I can take no more, I reach over and whip the plastic down over the dresses and pull them from the rack they're on so she can take a rest, smiling at her the entire time. "Thank you, Jessica," she says. "Please come back and see us again." I return her thanks and we head out the door. We made it to the doctor's office just in time for our appointment. How much did we save on this not-so-quick last minute stop? The total for both dresses pre- tax was $255, so we saved $235! Yay!!

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