On any weekend in March and April, there will be mothers and daughters experiencing pain - headaches, nausea and irritability. And no folks, it isn't the flu or seasonal allergies, its prom dress shopping.
See, the guys have it pretty easy. The girl gets the dress; you go to a tux shop and rent one that color coordinates or whatever. Is it that easy for the female population? (Hand raised: The answer is a big no.)
There is a lot of planning when it comes to The Dress. It starts early. If any of the girls were like me, I'd take note of what fashions were displayed during the previous prom cycle. Those dresses would quickly be discarded and I would begin searching for new styles and colors. During the winter months, I'd look at various fashion magazines, scouring the pages for a silhouette that would compliment my body shape and that would stand out in a crowd.
Finally, prom season arrived. Parents always cringe at this time, as the amount of money spent on any given outfit is pretty outrageous. Kids never seem to think so (I never seemed to mind.) By my senior year, I had this prom-dress shopping down to a science.
I never wanted to be the first one to purchase their dress out of my friend group. While they would proudly boast about the one-of-a-kind spangley dress they found or the 20 pound beaded number they just had to have, I'd secretly chuckle. Amateurs. While they had their outfit and coordinating jewelry and shoes nicely displayed in their bedroom closet, I had the chance to find something different, something new. It was a risky game - the selection became sparse and picked over; but I always enjoyed the gamble. For the later in the season that I waited to pick my dress, the more chance that new stock would filter into the stores. In the bridesmaid and prom sections, items would be added. It was more likely that I wouldn't find a replica at my prom to compete with. (For some odd reason, I just loved to bit my nails to nubs in anticipation.)
On that prom dress-shopping day, my mom and I would start early. Get up with our coffee and drive to our destination city. Our stores had already been targeted and mapped out. Store one was a bust, as well as store number two. After stopping for a fuel up of lunch, we geared up to continue our hunt. We'd squabble (usually after I found a dress that equaled the amount of money of a car payment.) I'd sigh and move on.
Fitting room after fitting room, it was all the same. Too small, too big, too flashy or too drab. Finally, after exhaustion set in, there it was. Either hidden in the racks or poised on a mannequin surrounded by lights. The Dress. Each time, you knew. My mom would be quiet, and I'd say, "This is it." We'd finally agree after having mini-battles all day long and head back home with our fresh purchase. And then the anticipation and nerves for the actual prom day would begin.
Now that I look back at it, I don't know if it was the perfect dress, or if it was the best game plan. It could have been that we were tired of arguing and just wanted to head home - settling on a dress.
I can laugh as I remember telling my friends that it didn't take long to find it (they would nod their heads as well, us teenage girls with our pack of lies.)
When (or if) I eventually get married, I realize that I'll have to go through the whole process again. Am I looking forward to it? Sort of - while I don't miss the whole stomach-tied-in-knots, irritable process that dress shopping always ends up being, the hunt for The Dress is always an adventure. The closest wild game hunt you'll find this girl venturing on.