Tuesday, September 16, 2014

First Homecoming

      “I have a dress you can borrow,” Marge exclaimed.  “In fact I have two, they were my sister’s - you can wear one and I’ll wear the other!”  My smile filled my innocent face as I beamed back at her.  Homecoming attire.  Problem solved.
       1964. After being imprisoned in Catholic grade school with white Ship and Shore blouses and turquoise jumpers, I was a sinking rock in a fashion sea of Olympic swimmers as I entered my freshman year at the public high school.  Dressing for my first homecoming, I felt so mature and feminine with the help of my seasoned friend.  Marge and I had gone to Catholic school together, but she knew the ropes of trendy fads since she had an older sister who attended the public high school.
        I was so grateful I didn't have to venture out into the jungles of retail shops to pick out my dress.  A virtual shopping virgin, I sent up a prayer of thanks for her assistance as I donned the borrowed, yellow-laced, spaghetti-strapped bodice with the wide hooped crinoline skirt.  I must surely be the Belle of the Ball, like something out of Gone with the Wind. 
        Feeling like I was trying to control a dozen helium balloons, I packed myself into Tony's parent's Buick, barely able to see out the windshield.  I kept my hand on top of my skirt as we drove, my wrist corsage a purple orchid in a sea of sunshine.
        We finally arrived at the school and after several failed attempts, I exited the car, feet first, Tony pulling at my arms.  As we entered the transformed gym hung with school colored streamers, I stiffened in horror as I squeezed through the door, my date trailing far behind my blimp sized attire.  Wondering why she'd avoided me all week, I tried to find Marge.  I couldn't wait to compare dresses, hers pink and mine yellow.  Then I saw her in the distance wearing a brand new lavender satin gown that clung to her slender physique – the season’s straight-skirted style adorning all the girls in the room – except for me.  The crowd parted as I formed an eight foot wide swath wherever I went, wishing I could sink into the lacy frills and disappear.  Fifteen, fragile and red-faced…
Living through the rest of the 1960s and the next 40 years have tempered my self-consciousness.  I no longer care what anyone thinks of my attire and I never ask anyone’s advice about what to wear.  If a formal event should find its way into my future, I may just attend with tattoos, bright pink hair, and a see through lacy dress – or maybe I’ll look in the attic for a yellow-laced, spaghetti-strapped, wide-hooped dress…

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