Saturday, we returned here to pick up Miss Whimsy’s gown from the dressmaker.
Every time I return to that boutique, I’m reminded of my “Least Likely to be Named Mom of the Year” moment. That would be my first trip to Prom Dress Paradise several years ago:
The Princess Diaries, Episode I.
As I’ve mentioned, MLK Day in our town
is prom dress Black Friday.
Now, I rarely if ever venture out during that other retail nightmare in November, no matter how glorious the sales. I hate crowds and confusion. So why I decided that it was prudent to set my heart on that day for my first princess dress excursion, I don’t really know.
All I remember is that I felt that I had waited a reasonable amount of time (16 years) and had my heart set on the Great Prom Dress Adventure that day. So bright and early, the ever compliant Practical One and I headed for our long anticipated first visit to Prom Dress Paradise.
I was giddy with anticipation.
And I wasn’t alone. As we approached the door of the boutique, we discovered that a crowd of excited Prom Moms and their princess projects had already begun to assemble. Apparently, the door was still locked.
I looked at my watch.
It was at least five minutes past the official opening so, despite the obvious, I reached up and rattled the door handle. Yep, locked…I glanced at my watch… and then at the other impatient waiters, simultaneously shrugging my shoulders and lifting my eyebrows like a perplexed marionette.
They simultaneously shrugged back. We murmured.
Then one of us
(OK, that would be I)
felt the need to step forward and rap on the door.
And we waited.
Finally, the shop owner came to the door and explained that there was a man, strapped to a bomb, holding a lawyer hostage in the courthouse downtown. Apparently, there was some sort of domestic dispute, and he blamed his lawyer. They had closed all downtown businesses.
FOX and CNN were on the way.
Now, normally, I would have been a little thrilled to have the national media descend on our small town. I’d probably be home, glued to the television, all atwitter. But as I’ve said, this was prom dress Black Friday. The Prom Moms had only one question:
Was it nuclear?
Because, folks, short of an atomic explosion, the prom moms intended to be inside that store on that day. There are certain things for which it’s worth risking life and limb. The prom dress is one of them.
Apparently, the bomb was some sort of homemade device. They were sending the SWAT team and a negotiator to the crime scene.
I could have given them a better plan. I would have suggested they just send the Prom Moms in to get him; we would have taken the guy down in 30 seconds flat. Crisis averted. Film at 11…
But since they never asked me, I was relegated, like the rest of the testy marionettes to the alley behind the boutique. There we waited, a simultaneously shrugging mob.
Finally, the shop owner tiptoed to the door and whispered to us that we could come in and browse if we stayed away from the front of the store. We cheered. She shushed us. So we secured our princesses in dressing rooms in the back of the building (in our defense… still technically behind that crime tape outside…) And The Moms commando shopped for dresses in a dimly lit store.
Well, either somebody snitched or they spied a careless Prom Mom serpentining too close to the window because we were busted. Barney Fife closed the shop and sent us all home…
Where we sat, eyes fixed to the TV as the national press carried the story of the redneck strapped to a Yoohoo bomb at the courthouse in a small southern town. I watched until they nabbed that sucker, and I cheered. I hoped they gave him fifty years to life.
But then… I realized that there was still daylight left. We jumped in the car and headed back to Prom Dress Paradise where the shop owner was waiting, confident of our return. I forgave the Redneck Bomber in my heart when we found our princess dress that day.
Every time I return to Prom Dress Paradise, I feel the need to yakkity yak this tale to some willing listener. Today, it was you.
I’m a little sentimental, and I’m sure you’re not surprised, that I picked up my last prom gown. I have truly enjoyed every princess making moment of the prom years. Nevertheless, I left that boutique with a heart of hopeful anticipation. Although proms will soon be a thing of the past, I will return.
Because this is what they sell on the second floor...
And neither rain, nor sleet, nor dark of night…