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Shop: In the Name of Prom

Nothing good comes of shopping for prom dresses.

It’s almost May, and if you happen to have a teen-aged girl, there’s a good chance she’s going to prom. Or thinking about prom. Or hoping to be asked to prom. Or planning for prom. For some reason, most teen girls are consumed by it in some form or another.

Parents, on the other hand, would rather see the arrival of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The most important part of prom, for many, is the dress. It’s second only to a girl’s wedding dress. The search for it will more than likely take just as much time. Now, take the stress of prom, and add not one, but two girls, and you can see that I had a recipe for disaster brewing.

Most girls head straight for the mall, which by and large caters to the teen set. I, however, hate the mall. I’d rather fight Tyson, Holyfield, and Ali at the same time with my arms tied behind my back. Sadly, it has the most options in the smallest amount of real estate. The mall it was.

Matt, bless his heart, wanted to be helpful and actually volunteered to take them. He figured he’d take the girls, let them loose and head off to Radio Shack or Game Stop. He was certain they’d be home with dresses and all would be right with the world.

Taking them was so sweet, I didn’t have the heart to tell him that was a fantasy only a man could believe. I waited for the inevitable. Sure enough, they came home with empty arms, sore feet and a shell-shocked father who couldn’t speak coherently for days.

Then it was my turn and round two had begun. Trembling like a frightened rabbit, I entered the hormone-fueled teenage realm of hell, cleverly disguised as a mall. We stopped at every dress-bearing store, twice.

Thankfully, after a few hours, we narrowed down the dress selection to around six lucky prospects. The problem, however, was that the two stores that housed the selections were at opposite ends of the mall.

Of course they were, heaven forbid anything about this should be easy.

We’d go to one, try on dresses, but not being sure, made the 10-minute trek back to store number two. Back and forth we went as if we were dancing to some type of mad metronome. Finally, one of the girls found one that she liked, but didn’t love, but the other didn’t. I told them we’d have to try another day, since I felt like I’d run a marathon barefoot over broken glass. It would have been just as pleasant.

To make matters worse, some of the dresses were so skimpy they’d make Lady Godiva blush. Yet they were expensive. I have no clue what marketing genius of teen apparel got the idea that parents want to plop down hundreds of dollars on a dress worn one night that was made of possibly a yard of fabric covered with sequins. And what dad on the planet wants to let his daughter go to a testosterone-filled room in little more than a nighty?

We soldiered on, and two miserable malls later, we finally found two dresses that didn’t make my daughters look like street walkers. We carried our long sought after dresses to the cash register, which was more like the finish line to me. My three-week ordeal was finally over, or so I thought.

Right before we reached it, the girls’ friend, Lisa, came running up to us, mother in tow. She breathlessly shared that the bridal store down the street had just gotten a truck load of prom dresses and was having a sale. And wasn’t it good timing that she’d gotten to us before we made our purchases?

I’ve always believed that there’s a secret code among mothers. Lisa’s mom just shattered it. In my addled brain, all I could think of was plotting my revenge. Sadly, because my brain was pretty much fried, all vengeful thoughts were promptly forgotten by the time we got home that night.

Another week filled with visits to every bridal store in town, and we finally had the dresses. Ironically, they were the dresses we almost bought before Lisa and her mother had been so “helpful.” I came home, opened a bottle of wine and began to celebrate. As Matt and I toasted to the end of prom dress season, the girls began discussing what purses, jewelry, shoes, perfume, makeup, hair and hair accessories would go with their new dresses.

I downed my glass in record time and Matt began to twitch.

Weeks later, the prom was almost upon us and the end of our four-week nightmare was in sight. Matt began to relax thinking he could finally stem the cash outpouring. I was relieved because he’d finally begun to speak in coherent sentences again – without drooling.

That’s when the girls brought up the after prom party, the day after class trip to the amusement park, the prom photo package, the . . . . .

Oh, brother, TKO.

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AidanJ April 30, 2012 at 12:39 PM
At times, I'm so glad I have boys.
Joe Hart April 30, 2012 at 12:41 PM
Me too.
Tamara Kells April 30, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Unbelievably, we had to do this another year with both, then one more with my younger daughter, the one in the picture. Thankfully, our third child, Dakota, is a boy (big sigh of relief).

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