By Helena Rodriguez
I see the little black dress dangling from a hanger in my daughter’s closet. I see the shimmering rhinestones making an elegant pattern across the otherwise bare back. I close my eyes and sense memories it will hold:
Memories of prom … Laura’s senior-year prom.
On Saturday night, my hita goes to her senior prom. It’s only one in a handful of emotional events signaling the end of Laura’s high school days and a newfound freedom that expectantly will come as she and my niece, Crystal, cross these milestones.
I’ve been thinking about that little black dress these past few days. It will be the center of attention as Laura prepares for prom night at Portales High School.
It’s often said every woman should have a basic black dress in her wardrobe. It’s an essential. But I know this one will be particularly special, and I believe it will have memories to tell someday.
This little black dress was the very first dress Laura spotted at the very first dress shop we walked into in the South Plains Mall in Lubbock during spring break. We had only taken a few steps into the main entrance, walked into the fashion store, and there it was.
Laura’s eyes were immediately drawn to it. She tried it on and made her mind that was the dress she wanted to wear to prom. That rarely happens. Normally, shopping for even one outfit for Laura requires a day walking up and down the mall.
I’m usually the one tapping my toes, looking at the time, telling Laura to just make up her mind about an outfit. But this time, I was taken by surprise. I was like, “Don’t you want to look around at the other stores? You might find something else you like better?”
“Maybe something even cheaper!” I thought as I looked at the price. I also tried to use the zipper as an excuse. It had a snag, a small pinch of material stuck in the zipper, and I could just vision the trauma, the horrific nightmare that this problematic zipper could pose on Laura’s big night.
Laura was still determined, but so was I. This sounded too good to be true. So I insisted we look at the other shops, and then if she didn’t find something she liked better, we’d come back. At the back of my mind, I knew we wouldn’t be back, but Laura still asked the sales lady to hold the dress, which she gladly did. She even offered to find another dress of the same style with a better zipper. That wasn’t going to happen either, I thought. Laura wears a a size 2.
As you probably guessed by now, we walked the whole mall and Laura did not find any other must-have dresses. Her heart was set on the little black dress. I must say the selection was limited. Easter egg colors, including a bright lemon yellow, seemed to be in this year.
Before going back for the little black dress though, we even went to a few bridal and formal occasion shops outside of the mall. Yes, it is legal to do that.
But even after many hours of looking elsewhere, Laura insisted on getting the little black dress, and by this time, it was starting to get dark and I wanted to have something to show for the day we spent hunting for the perfect dress.
When we got back to the first store, the clerk informed Laura that she had found another little black dress in her size, with a perfect zipper.
“Sold!” I thought aloud. I then watched Laura’s eyes sparkle as the clerk carefully wrapped a protective covering over the little black dress. As I wrote out the check … it was a little more than I wanted to pay at the time … I blurted out to Laura, “This will be a good dress to wear to a wedding or other special occasion!”
I knew, though, that the memories created in that dress, on prom night alone, would be priceless.
Helena Rodriguez is a columnist for Freedom New Mexico.