Updated weekly. Usually on Tuesdays. Unless some small person eats my blog post.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Or, How I Almost Ruined My Mother’s Birthday

The Mother (AKA Giver of Life and Nana to my children) had a big birthday this month (I think she’s 19 now) and The Dad made some major plans to surprise her. He spent the build-up to the Big Day keeping secrets from everyone, and getting people to lie to The Mother. My job was to make her think that I, her oh-so-innocent eldest daughter, was planning something. And then to make her think it had gone horribly, terribly, irreparably wrong.

As you can imagine, I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Mustache twirling will cost you extra.
I executed my tasks perfectly and was able to start dressing for dinner out with a clear conscious, knowing I had completely freaked my mother into thinking we weren’t doing anything for her birthday.

My dressing was almost my undoing.

We all do things we shouldn’t do. Eat a little too much chocolate, sneak into work late, use the kids as an excuse to escape, blame the flying monkeys for the late payment. You know, normal stuff. And I don’t think I know many adults who aren’t guilty of, at least once, the Number One High Fashion Crime of Badness: Wearing Squeeze Clothes.

Squeeze Clothes: Noun. Clothing that once correctly fit a frame that has since changed but, by dint of sucking in and squeezing, can still fit onto said frame. See also: Fashion, Crime Against and Sister, Forget It.

Hm. Just cut off a few toes; who needs 'em?

Let me tell you a story: Way back in the land of High School, there was this strange ritual known as Prom. All of the little savages in High School looked forward to Prom, either as the High Point of All Important Things, or as a fun event to throw rocks at people. I, being a good little savage, desperately wanted to go. However, being a “if-a-boy-looks-at-me-sideways-I’m-going-to-die” sort of savage, I dreaded being asked. 

So I avoided all the male savages with all my might. And was still very, very sad when I didn’t get asked to observe the strange ritual by any of them. 

The Dad, surveying the mess of High School, felt very badly for me. Especially when I expressed, with tears flying everywhere, that all I wanted was to wear a
Pretty Dress! His tender heart was mushed, and he gruffly declared that I should go forth, find a Pretty Dress, and join him for dinner the evening of Prom. (It was, by the way, the best Prom in all of savagery.)

Being of a practical frame of mind, I eschewed the more Prom-like glitter dresses and picked a formal gown that might actually get more than one night’s wear. It came with me to college, where I dreamed again and again that some dashing knight would sweep me off my feet while I was wearing it. I had it tailored to fit, just so I’d be ready when the horse pulled up. 

It fit me very, very well. 

So, back to getting dressed for The Mother’s dinner. And SCs.  

The problem with SCs is that if the fabric is hardy enough, you still look
just fine. Enter the Pretty Dress.

I swore that I was just going to try it on. After all, I’d had my third baby not 3-½ months earlier, and even getting it over my hips would be surprising. Then, after getting that out of my system, I’d put on a church dress and head out for the par-tay. 

Not only did it fit over my hips, it was like a straight jacket for my baby pooch. That thing wasn’t even going to try and misbehave with all that fabric squeezing it in. Okay, so it doesn’t actually zip all the way up the back. Stick a safety pin in the zipper, cover it with the matching jacket.


Magically, I fit into my high school prom dress after 3 kids. 

Just try and tell me you wouldn't have so worn that dress too.

So what if the safety pin popped the second I stooped down to get into the limo? Was I going to worry about such a little thing when I was in a
wow-who’s-the-famous-person-riding-in-there limo for the first time in my life?  

Ab-so-freakin’-lutely not. 

The spots dancing in front of my eyes shortly after we ordered appetizers in the fanciest restaurant I’ve ever been to were a minor inconvenience for such a triumph. The shortness of breath could even be ignored. For a little while. If I concentrated. 

Okay, so I gave in and unzipped my dress a little more. It was a cold night, I had my dress coat, and as far as anyone else knew I was a Pretty Dress NINJA, with super shape-changing abilities and a get-into-the-dress shimmy to bring down empires.

Dinner was fantastic. Conversation was great. Dress looked good. 

Then came dessert. A mountain of oh-no-you-didn’t chocolate torte, piled even higher with the best minty ice cream you have ever tasted. 
I thought I had died and gone to dark chocolate heaven.

And that was just the first bite.

 I knew that even though I was sharing with my sister, I’d never be able to finish my half. But when she said, “Oh, ugh, I couldn’t eat another bite! It’s all yours!” it was on. Me or the dessert. One of us wouldn’t survive. 

The dessert won.

I took one more bite. One, teeny-weeny, chocolate-filled taste of decadent yumminess. It was exactly one too many. With that one bite, The Pretty Dress was suddenly, unquestioningly, and unforgivingly too tight. 

Death is bad, and I saw it
coming for me.

If you’ve never almost suffocated yourself, let me fill you in: Light headed. Dizzy. Seeing spots. Nauseated. 

I bolted for the bathroom, hoping no one had noticed. Shimmied out of my control-top pantyhose (why did I think those were necessary with the belly straight jacket?!), unzipped my dress the rest of the way, and slunk back to the table, only to discover that I couldn’t sit down any longer; the final bite of chocolate torte was squishing the air right out of me. 

The evening was over, and within sight of the finish line I was discovered—yeah, laying down in the back of the car, gasping for air on the way home kind of gave me away.  

Kid Sister is glad Pretty Dress did me in. She was up to inherit.

And because I know you’re all frothing at the mouth with curiosity:
(Presumed) FAQs About Near-Death By Dress: 

1. How do you feel about Pretty Dress not fitting?
My body is no longer a child’s. It’s a woman’s. Thank goodness.

2. How were you able to laugh at yourself when you almost puked all over The Mother’s Super Important Birthday Dinner of Awesomeness?
Very carefully. Laughing at yourself is great fun, but also suffocation-inducing given the circumstances at the time.

3. What did you learn from this experience? That o
ther people look very, very funny when they’re worried you’re about to have a size-related nervous breakdown. 

4. Was the chocolate torte worth it?
Oh, even yesser! 

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.Creative Commons License
This work by Carolynn Dyer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.