My friend Susan, when she isn’t having dates with men who wear antlers or slippers out to dine, goes to weddings. Susan attends more weddings than a bag of rice. After she finished attending the weddings of her countless friends, she soon began attending the second weddings of some of them. Even while that round was going on, the offspring of the first marriages attained marriageable age themselves, and a whole new round of festivities began. Susan is invited to all of these second generation affairs.
For this reason, Susan is usually in the process of buying a dress for someone’s wedding. Being a friend of the bride or groom’s mom is usually the bottom rung of any guest list, second only to the obnoxious new spouse of a distant uncle. No one is wondering what you will be wearing, and no one will notice what you do wear.
You will be seated as far from the bridal table as possible, and, if you are unattached like Susan is, you will be seated at a table with anyone else who also happens to be solo. Those at the solo table may include a random reclusive family member, a non-English speaking person who hosted the bride or groom many years ago for a study abroad program, or my Uncle Sid (he is wont to crash weddings for the free meal). It’s usually evident after a few minutes why most of the people at the solo table are there. The bottom line is that you will arrive, eat and leave, and no one will take much notice of you, including the friend who invited you.
Yesterday, at the latest wedding she attended, Susan changed all that. She had bought a dress at Macy’s on Friday, on sale for a great price. The dress came with a hook in the back that Susan was unable to fasten herself, but this didn’t concern her. On the day of the wedding, she went down into the apartment house lobby, scanned the likely subjects who could help her, rejected them due to sex (male) or age–too young (embarrassing) or too old (arthritic fingers), and finally decided on a woman coming out of the UPS store in her building.
Finally dressed, Susan left for the wedding. Always the fashionista, she wore knee high hose. The hose stayed in place until she got out of the car. As soon as she walked across the parking lot of the hotel where the wedding was, the hose started peeling down her legs, until they reached her ankles. She took them off in the parking lot and dropped them into a trash can in the hotel bathroom.
In the elevator at the hotel, Susan realized a good friend of hers was wearing the identical dress. Stores and prices were compared, and Susan won, having purchased her dress for $78, which was $322 less than her friend spent. She and her friend agreed to tell everyone they thought the wedding had a Halloween theme and they had come as bookends.
After cocktail hour Susan found a chair and sat down to talk to some friends. She felt a sharp poke in her butt, looked around but didn’t see a hostile waiter wielding a fork in her direction. She stood up, pulled the bottom of the dress around and saw, for the first time, the extremely large shiny white plastic security tag firmly implanted into the dress fabric. The rest of the evening was spent replying to people who asked her if she stole the dress from the store. When Susan asked people if they had noticed the tag, they said of course they did, but they thought maybe she meant to return the dress after the wedding. Susan explained the difference to them between leaving a store with a sales receipt (used to return merchandise in the future) and a security tag (used to end up in jail, thereby ruining one’s future).
Today, Susan marched back to Macy’s to have them remove the security tag from the dress. In explanation, they said many of these tags are defective and don’t set off the alarm when people leave the store. But they aren’t especially concerned, since, to their knowledge, no one in their right mind would walk around wearing an item of clothing with the security tag attached.
They hadn’t met Susan.