A haunting tune floods the room as you cautiously glide along rows of white. Taffeta, silk, satin, tool (and a little too much of it, you note), organza and lace tower around you like an army of white stallions. Your eyes burn from the relentless glare of “diamond-white,” “off-white” and ivory. As you turn down another colorless corridor, a chill runs down your spine: someone is watching you.
You continue down the aisle quietly, holding your breath in fear that you will be discovered. Beads of sweat begin to form on your brow and stash-line. Suddenly, you catch site of a ghostly reflection in a dozen gaudy rhinestones pinned on one of the off-white numbers. The ghoul’s muggy breath steams up the stones and fills the air with a potent moth-ball aroma. Before you turn to face the spirit you can’t help but notice: did the steam manage to form a 666 pattern on those stones? No … it must be your imagination.
“Good evening, young lady! What brings you to the shop?”
You turn around, nearly falling into an ocean of silk. “Well…” you gulp in terror, “I’m getting–”
“That’s great! Come sit with me over here, let’s get an idea of what you’re looking for.”
She takes your sweaty palm into hers (icy, you note) and drags you to a worn velvet couch surrounded by a hexagonal prism of mirrors and lace.
After handing you a heavy catalog full of bridal gowns she begins her round of questioning: The date, the venue, number of attendants, time of wedding, colors, height/weight/bust, etc. After ten minutes of detail gathering, she finishes up by asking one very intriguing question:
“Okay, so, last question: tell me one fun fact about yourself!”
You laugh, assuming this is some sort of cheesy joke, but after an awkward moment of grinning at each other blankly … you realize she is not kidding. You kindly respond with the first thing that pops into your head: your major in college.
“Great! So, a fun fact about me, I’ve worked here for 18 years and I’ve never once been invited to a wedding! Weird, huh?”
You think “not so strange” but instead shake your head and put on your best “no way!” face.
“Okay, so let’s find some dresses in here that you like. Then I’ll go ahead and pull them for you and we can get started!”
You ask if you can just browse the shop to check out the gowns instead. She freezes and stares at you in perplexity, still maintaining that enormous grin. For a moment you think, “Booger? Do I have a booger?”
“Umm…” For the first time you can’t see her top row of teeth, “it’s more relaxing for you this way … I do all the work, see?”
You hesitantly point to a few pictures in the catalog and, with a wink and a nod she prances away and disappears into a blinding cavern of chiffon.
She returns with two dresses (you pointed to at least five) and a strapless bra-girdle thing.
“Go ahead into the dressing room and put this on, then let me know when you’re ready.” She hands you the undergarment and shoves you into the “dressing room” (aka broom closet).
The instant you manage to hook the last notch on the girdle-contraption she throws open the door (which opens out to the now-bustling shop). Before you can react to your embarrassment she hands you dress #1, which looks nothing like any of the dresses you selected in the catalog.
“Here you go, come on out when you get it on.” She abruptly closes the door, trapping you in a dark casket of itchy fabric.
The dress fills the room like pudding in a cup, drowning you in a heap of vanilla-white. It takes you some time to figure out how to step into the monstrosity without losing balance. Your mind flashes forward and you see yourself falling through the door, tumbling onto the carpet (naked) in a web of ivory lace. You’re sweating again.
Finally you manage to get into the gown and proudly announce that you are ready. As you wait for her to open the door, you envision you/the dress oozing out of the dressing room as soon as the door opens … like frosting out of a tube.
You continue to wait. Nothing. You call out again, “READY!” … but hear nothing other than your own panting breath. You begin to fear that you will suffocate and die in this awful dress that you never liked to begin with. You panic and begin feeling around for the door knob. Just as you find it the door opens, flooding you in florescent lighting. All you can see in the brightness is a familiar, colossal grin.
Your eyes adjust and you can see her standing before you in awe.
“WOW! That looks amazing on you, come stand on this platform and take a look!”
You shimmy to the platform and turn to the mirror in absolute horror.
“Oh my god, this looks so perfect on you. It was MADE for you! I think this is the one – I mean, it rarely happens that the first dress you try is the one, but I really think this is it, don’t you?”
“Wow, do you want to call your mom to have her come look? It’s just perfect! I’m so happy for you! Congratulations!”
All you can do is laugh in disbelief.
“Awh you are so modest! I know you love it because you’re smiling and laughing! How exciting for you!”
She yanks you off of the platform and hugs you in excitement. “Go ahead and get undressed and meet me at the front of the store – we’ll work out the price and get everything ordered there.”
You are shoved back into the closet and before you can utter a word she closes the door with a giggle, leaving you in darkness (again).
At this point you aren’t smiling anymore. It’s time for an escape plan.
After twenty minutes of worming your way out of the gown, you get dressed and sneak out of the dark stall. After what feels like hours of snaking through a series of aisles and hiding under satin trains when necessary, you finally spot the front door. You impulsively let out a sigh of relief … but your heart drops when you recognize your mistake. The sigh was not a sigh at all, but instead a victorious cry: “YESSSS!!! THANK YOU SWEET JESUS!”
Time stops as you assess your surroundings. It isn’t long before you see her. In slow motion her head spins around, revealing her grin-stamped face. You flinch in anticipation of a pea-soup explosion and shield your head with a nearby unity candle. Once you realize she has not vomited exorcist-style all over the shop, you drop the candle and make a run for it.
As you leap over dozens of flower-girl baskets and fake bouquets you can hear her shrill voice calling out behind you, “Hey! Getting your wallet?” but you continue to run: you are in survival mode.
You finally reach the door and pounce through it like a caged animal escaping its prison. The outside air slaps your face as you fall to your knees and weep in joy. You made it out alive… this time.
Then you realize you left your purse inside.