Carolyn White: Living the Good Life 10-3-11
Frank and I celebrated our anniversary last month by going out to dinner, something that we rarely do since it’s easier – and much less expensive – to just make a pizza and watch a movie at home. I hadn’t been to a fancy restaurant in so long that it took several days to pick out something to wear. Pouring through the closet; dragging out dresses; trying them on; tossing each aside (with a snort of disgust over how tight they were); finally finding one that fit; carefully matching it with shoes, a purse, and – after pawing through a dozen half-used tubes – deciding on the best shade of lipstick as the finishing touch was all-consuming. It was worth it, though, when Frank nodded approvingly and said, “You look nice” after everything had been put together.
Dressing HIM, meanwhile, was a whole ‘nuther story. After noticing that he’d set out a pair of heavily-wrinkled, greenish khaki pants along with a blue and white-striped shirt I suggested, “What about your suit?”
“Do I have to?” he muttered.
“How ’bout I choose something for you?” It was important that he look polished.
“Sure.” He seemed relieved.
I’d hung some of his nicer clothes in the downstairs sewing room years before in order to have something clean, pressed and ready for special occasions. Selecting some cream-colored trousers and pairing them with a plaid shirt, I headed back to the bedroom. Frank had to crawl into the far corner of his closet in order to find some decent boots, but in no time he looked like a shiny new penny. Meanwhile, after a final primp in the bathroom mirror and the addition of the comb, some breath mints, reading glasses, hand lotion, a tiny mirror and the lipstick to my purse, we were ready to go. And then … as we were walking across the uneven sidewalk towards the car … regardless of how carefully I was mincing along in those high heels … without an arm hooked through my husband’s for extra caution … I caught a toe on the edge of a protruding brick and tripped. Simultaneously, both arms and the purse went flying forward in a jerk response, my full skirt flapped out, and a not-so-ladylike phrase peppered the air, but luckily I didn’t go sprawling.
“Nice save, Honey,” my husband observed, stifling a grin.
“Oh, I hate when that happens!” I complained while sliding into the passenger side.
“Yes, but it was certainly entertaining,” he observed.
As an ancient memory suddenly surfaced, I slowly smiled and then started giggling. “Wanna hear about a time when I really DID go down hard?” I asked him.
“Sure … do I have a choice?” He teased.
“You’ll like this,” I promised.
Back in the spring of 1979, my mother spent nearly half a day helping me to prepare for my very first formal dance – not to mention the weeks that we spent beforehand shopping for the perfect, floor-length gown. An Alabama belle, she knew every trick to playing dress-up and in honor of the grand event I got accessorized with a delicate lace shawl, a pearl necklace, and antique, elbow-length white gloves. She even tucked little blue flowers into my hair! By the time the young escort showed up, I felt every bit as grown-up and elegant as a princess going to a ball.
After allowing a few moments for my father to answer the door (and do an inspection), I paused at the top of the landing for full effect, murmuring, “Vincent” to get the boy’s attention. Looking up, his eyes widened – no surprise since I practically lived in jeans and T-shirts. Gracefully, I began to glide down the stair case … and then … the toe of one 2-1/2-inch pump got snagged on the hem of that dress. For a brief, sickening moment I wobbled … and then tumbled down, down, down helplessly, end over end, before landing in a heap on my date’s polished loafers.
For a moment, there was complete silence, and then several pairs of hands appeared, hoisting me upwards like a limp ragdoll. Stunned, with disheveled hair and bleeding elbows – along with wounded pride – I stared at the anxious faces that surrounded me. And then, out of nowhere, came the boyfriend’s teasing question: “Have a nice fall?”
Frank was laughing out loud – something that he rarely does – by the time I’d finished the story. “We’d better pick a place that doesn’t have stairs,” he said, reaching for my hand. “I wouldn’t want you to do anything that would make me look bad.”