Posted by Danny
The amount of money I’m likely to spend on high school dances over a 12 year period of time for three daughters. I accounted for two big dances a year and included 5% a year for inflation. This does not include middle school dances, college formals or debutante balls.
I can see myself in thirty years – living in Michelle’s cardboard box in downtown Raleigh – a large picture book of my daughters, wearing my retirement, my sole possession.
It took two grandmothers, one aunt, three of Lisa’s friends, an army of saleswomen and me to find THE dress for DJ’s first formal. The shopping started just two weeks out with family members dropping by every dress shop from Benson to Oxford.
At one point I think we had four dresses on hold.
Finally, as the calendar grew tight, I stepped in – sort of the Godfather of shopping. A decision had to be made. I was strong and equipped, I’d just paid off my monthly VISA bill.
We started at North Hills – a store called Ubiquitous (or something like that). They had nothing (under $300) that we liked. We ran by Hayley’s – they were holding one. The woman assured us this was the only one of its kind in the free world. Grandma liked it better than DJ.
We hit another store on Oberlin Road – it cost me one $50 Sunday dress, but nothing for the event.
I was getting worried.
Two days later, it happened. She found something else in North Hills and put it on hold. We walked in together. There was a comfortable black and white couch with a huge framed mirror propped right in front of me. I looked good – graying at my temples, the black circles under my eyes hidden under the soft lights.
She came out in the dress – it was a darker shade of purple. It was short.
“You look beautiful but you’ll need to wear a bathing suit under that one.”
“It’s fingertip length.”
“Maybe your pinkie fingertip, if you’re slouching. What are you going to do when you raise your arms?”
“Why would I raise my arms? It’s a formal, not a math class.”
“Don’t you raise your arms when you dance?”
I demonstrate some of my basic moves – hands in the air.
“We don’t dance like that.”
There were slits in the sleeves from shoulder to elbow. “What are those for?”
“I don’t think they have a specific purpose.”
“They’re like air vents – they’ll keep you cool on the dance floor. Or, you could put your cell phone in there.”
The nineteen year old salesclerk assured me the dress was an appropriate length for a high school dance. “Would your father let you wear it?”
The shoes were next. We headed to Southpoint mall. She knew what she wanted: Nude (color, not a state of dress), patton (means shiny), pumps (unrelated to the gas station). Easy to find – but expensive to me.
Ends up that all of the girls checked their shoes at the coat closet when they arrived at the dance. That means that those shoes cost about $1 per minute of wear.
I think the best part of the evening came when at about 10 pm, Jesse texted DJ with these two pictures and the following message:
Who looks better in your dress? Michelle, you or me?
Yes – Jesse and Michelle had taken pictures of themselves in DJ’s formal dress earlier in the week with the sole purpose of harassing her in the middle of her date.
I cannot tell you how much joy that one act has brought to my life.