The Prom Dress, The Paracetamol and the Patience of a Saint
I don’t really do femininity. I love being a woman and am comfortable in my own skin but I’ll admit there are certain aspects of being a girl that have completely bypassed me. Pink in any form, for example, is neither pretty nor acceptable within a 50-mile radius of me. Flounces, frills, frippery and finery leave me completely cold. I am partial to a nice shoe or handbag, but that is about as far as it goes. I don’t wear much make-up, I rarely bother with perfume and yes, the stubble left languishing on my barely-can-be-bothered-to-shave legs is occasionally responsible for the scarring on the Man-Hog’s calves and the tears in his manly eyes.
Hence the past few months have been a trial to say the least. The Teen has a prom to go to in July. A rite of passage must in the Teen’s social calendar. It all began back in February when said Teen announced it was going in a long dress and “Oh, by the way…” you’re buying it, Mum. Hours spent searching the internet (instead of revising for one’s GCSEs) resulted finally in a dress that the Teen thought was acceptable and I didn’t think looked like she’d gone on the game. We agreed on it, I ordered it on-line, slapped down my credit card details and that was supposed to be that.
Of course not. How silly of me. I should have realized once the email arrived from the very perky and completely unintelligible Nancy Lee “confirming order for dless in plurple size ate”. This was the first clue that all was probably not what it seemed. The second clue was that the same dress appeared on multiple similar websites – something the Teen had failed to mention. My only comfort was that I had paid through PayPal on-line and was therefore hoping that my fears of fashion fraud were unfounded and the site was entirely reputable.
How naïve can one 45-year-old non-girly woman be? Three months on and with no delivery in sight, I sat on-line for over an hour waiting for a live 24-hour chat operator to be with me shortly. As the clock ticked towards the second hour it was clear the operator was not live. In fact, dead was probably nearer the mark or at the very least tied to a chair with a sock in her gob because it was clear that no-one was coming to the party to chat with me. I hung up and then sent a frustrated email to my old friend Nancy Lee, also to the address on the website and to one random email I found on my receipt from PayPal. You guessed it – nil response from all three. The end result was a complaint raised with PayPal and a reimbursement of my money. That was the good part.
The bad part was the Teen frothing at the mouth as July is around the corner and she had no dress. Pressure was mounting from her prom date who had apparently bought a tie in “plurple” to match her Chinese creation that was now never arriving. I had no choice – I had to take it shopping. Next to pink dresses and daily skin care regimes, shopping has to be my least favourite activity. I would rather mud-wrestle multiple Chinese chat room operators in a live on-line paddling pool for days on end than go shopping.
Probably not best to choose the day following the riotous, amusing yet completely pointless Netball Awards night, then. The day when I woke up with a hangover and a mouth like the just-raced crutch of Usain Bolt’s lycra shorts. A day when all sensible people except me were lying horizontal until their heads stopped pounding, their nausea faded and someone had produced a hearty fry-up to aid their recovery. Not me. No. I was on a train to London in 30 degree heat, rattling with paracetamol and sweating hideously. Oozing the smell of last night’s Chinese into the garish seat cushions and cursing all things oriental that had brought me to this point. The Teen was attempting to jolly me along with a proposed route plan for which shops we would visit first. All I wanted to do was lie down quietly in a pool of my own sick. Not only that but I had to suffer the wholly inappropriate chirpiness of the Man-Hog and the Mini-Pig who came with us as far as London en route to visit the Science Museum. My only comfort was that during their trip they might actually find a scientific answer to the god-awful gaseous gut explosions which seem to accompany any hangover I have these days. To anyone who was on that train with us, I can only apologise.
London. Sweltering heat. A tumult of Jubilee fetishists and early Olympic tourists to add to the usual summer contingent of gigantic Middle-Eastern women piling en masse into Selfridges. The Teen forged ahead in search of fashion Nirvana. Me – I weaved tearfully behind her through the make-up counters, trying desperately to escape Sandra from Yves Saint-Laurent who wanted to pounce on my ageing skin and rub me free of blemishes. I told her exactly where to stick her Touche-Eclat and I sincerely hope it hurt when she did.
Three stores, seven dresses and a nervous breakdown later, we had bought a dress. It was not plurple, it was pleacock-blue. Actually very nice if you like all that girly crap. But by then I was slumped into a corner of the changing room, gibbering slightly with eyes rolling like a maddened horse. Not one person offered me a medicinal gin and the Teen showed even less empathy by demanding I sit up straight and take some mobile phone shots of her in the dress. For the love of God, why? Did she not realize I was one vapour attack away from A&E?
But thank the Lord! – the dress is purchased. And it was 20% off day which was a bit of a result. As we were leaving London accompanied once again by the Man-Hog and the Mini-Pig fully scienced up and having displayed what I firmly believe was the patience of a saint, the Teen casually mentioned that her date for the prom is quite challenged in the height department and she didn’t want to tower above him, so could we go again next week and look for some flattish shoes? Grabbing her by her pink and flowery shirt, I pulled her across the train table and hissed “Don’t…even….think about it!” through gritted noodle-stained teeth. I think she’s got the message.