catapult magazine

catapult magazine

Vol 6, Num 19 :: 2007.10.19 — 2007.11.02


The secret lives of dresses, Vol. 1

I knew there was trouble when I saw the grocery store. I mean, look at me, I'm not a grocery-store kind of dress. I mean, maybe now you'd wear me to the grocery store, kids today and so on, but when I was new—no. But there I was, in the grocery store, with house slippers, no less, and her husband's windbreaker. No one said anything. We bought three cabbages, five bags of marshmallows, and beef bouillon cubes. The cashier rolled her eyes, but I didn't know why that was unusual—for all I knew that was a week's shopping. I was more of a cocktail-party dress. I knew wieners on sticks, and little cubes of cheese, and crudités.

After the grocery store, we went home, and lay on the sofa, watching television, until the man got home. There were a lot of nice dresses on the television. "Where are we going?" he asked. He didn't notice the house slippers, or the lack of makeup. He just saw me.

"Hell!" she shouted, and threw her drink at him. None got on me, not even a spot, and I was thankful, because bourbon stains.

He just stood there for a moment, dripping, and then walked into the other room. I heard him dialing the phone, but I couldn't make out what he was saying. He didn't come back in the room, even though she was sobbing. She wasn't watching the television, although it was still on. Soon she stopped crying and then she was asleep. I don't like being slept in. It makes creases. When she had been asleep for a while, the man came back in with a nightgown, and took me off her. He was pretty gentle. I'd heard stories of men ripping dresses, but he didn't. He was upset that she wasn't wearing anything under me, not even a slip, but he just sighed and went off for a minute. He came back with a bra and panties, though they didn't match. I guess he hadn't noticed that hers always matched, or maybe he didn't think it was important. Then he put a coat around her and carried her out.

I didn't get hung up until the next day. It was odd to spend so much time off a body but not hung up. She always hung me up right away.

He hung me up, but put me way in the back of the closet, not near the other dresses I'd been by before. That felt strange. And then no one opened the closet for weeks and weeks. When the door opened again, she looked in and said, "Oh! None of these will fit now, I've lost so much weight." She didn't seem happy or sad about it, either way. Her voice seemed kind of flat, not bubbly like it was before. Anyway, she never wore me again, and I was given away a few months later, to her sister who lived in Tucson.

For more volumes of The Secret Lives of Dresses, as well as other vintage and contemporary fashion musings, visit Erin’s blog, A Dress A Day.

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