Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Dress


I don’t like New Year’s Eve. I came to that decision twenty-eight years ago as I considered the cowboy hat perched on my date’s head. The hat should have warned me. We were more than a thousand miles from any ranch, and as far as I could tell, my  date had never branded the rump of a steer or, for that matter, settled his own in a saddle.  The more I stared at that hat, the more I found myself thinking about horses, and donkeys and asses.
I was also thinking that I was going to have to take my coat off. We were standing in the split level’s microscopic hall, and all I could see were feet.  There wasn’t a heel among them; unless I was being charitable, and I wasn’t feeling charitable. No one was wearing what I deemed a party shoes – spiked heels and a few straps. And worse,  the hostess who watched me from the top of the stairs was the type of girl I’d learned to be careful around. She was wearing a white shirt under a pink fuzzy sweater and a modest black skirt. Since it was her house, she’d forgone shoes. She was wearing a pair of house slippers.
My date turned for my coat. Conversation petered out as I slithered out of my coat.
He’d asked me to a party. A New Year’s Eve party. This did not qualify as a party. This was a few old friends gathered in a  living room drinking (oh someone shoot me) kahluaa on ice. This was a world of crew neck sweaters and dusty rose house paint.
Clearly, my dress had been invited to the wrong party.
That dress. It had more slits than seams. It glittered. It showed thigh, the ridge of my spine,  and the shadow between my boobs.  It was a great dress if you were feeling slightly risquĂ© for a big party. It was  a horrible dress if you were sitting thigh to thigh on a living room couch, beside married guy #1 and married guy #2. 
Their wives glowered at me all night.
So, here’s what that taught me. To be charitable to the girl in the wrong dress. To only blame myself if I answered the door in a pair of new house slippers with an 8.99 price sticker still stuck to the sole.  And that I was truly capable of making a New Year’s Resolution and hanging on to it.
As the girls talked about people I didn’t know, and their men talked about cars I cared nothing about, I thought, don’t do it. Don’t go out on New Year’s ever again.
I haven’t.