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Distress and Dat Dress

Just a little bit weary... my visit to Mum was by turns fun and frustrating. She was in good spirits  though she had still forgotten Dad was dead -  I reminded her when she told me she had written to him. She lifted her hands to her mouth in an embarrassed smile, as if she had committed a drawing room faux-pas/forgotten to buy someone a birthday card/left the gas on.  And then shrugged and continued the conversation.

I wanted to give her a subject to chew over, so discussed my wedding dress with her. She saw pictures, she didn't like it.

'What made you choose something that makes you look so fat?' She started. When I said my choice had been informed by my prospective sister-in-law who runs a business as a personal shopper, she nodded. 'Well, your personal shopper friend has fallen in love with the back and the colour,' was her decision. 'But what is the point when it looks so ordinary from the front? No, we will have to find something else.' And with that, she switched to her alter-ego meta-human identity of super-shopper. This is what my mother was born for, this is her fuel.  But unlike Clark Kent, she won't return to the Daily Planet tomorrow- she barely bothers with this planet anyway - so away we went until we found something. The first day ended well. She was happy, I was happy.

The next morning I wore a vintage dress, a deep brown and cream affair with cute stripes and polka dots. I knocked on her door, she opened it and stared at me in open mouthed horror.

'Oh my god,what have you done?'  She said, 'Come in, come in!' I honestly think she looked out of the door both ways to see if anyone had observed me enter. She closed the door behind me, and said in despairing tones, words that have haunted me since I was old enough to dress myself, 'What are you wearing?'

Now, I have a healthy enough self-image. I can doubt myself, I can be assured, I can focus on tiny flaws no-one else sees, I can ignore glaring issues that needed dealing with aeons ago. But actually, despite swings of the vanity pendulum,  I'm sort of OK-ish with physical self confidence... until I am with Mum, and then it oozes out of me like jam from a bitten doughnut. 'I... I liked it. I thought you would...'

'You thought I would like this thing?  Oh Debbie, how could you?' A pin magically appeared from nowhere and subdued my decolletage under dotted material. ' You walked through Granada like this? Those breasts hanging out... you look like [your father's] mother!'


As my mother's observations of her mother-in-law were seldom more generous than to ascribe to her all the qualities of an alcoholic demi-prostitute, I was genuinely shocked.

'Well I am sorry, don't take on too much. You are very well prepared, too well prepared some might say, and there really is no need to show it off.'

From such words it might be imagined that I am some kind of Booberella, Queen of the Dark, but I am an averagely proportioned woman. It's just that my mother has always been naturally thin,so any bump in the material counts as an eyebrow raiser.

'It's vintage,' I protested weakly.

'Ah, vintage! Worn too often and washed too often. We will get you something else.'  With that she insisted on us loitering outside the dress shops until they opened (she couldn't stomach the idea of going to breakfast in public with me in such a dress) and only relaxed after I was in a new t-shirt and leggings, having solemnly handed the dress over to her. 'I will find a proper use for it,' she promised, 'A duster or something.' With that, she decided to ignore everything I said repeatedly about finding groomswear, and forced me to  endlessly try things I would never wear, in shops I would never visit. Repeat ad nauseam for days. In the end, we argued, because I got exasperated and bored, and she just wouldn't listen.  I am still annoyed with myself about that.

My real victory was regarding the Termagent,who has now had her second dramatic fall and resulting hip replacement. Mum has been refusing to go see her, because she recalls their mother crying in a wheelchair, and didn't want to see her sister, all fire and acid, shrivel into aged pathos. So I went to see the Termagent myself, and was relieved to find that the vitriol levels were still dangerously  high.

'Your mother will never come to see me,' she said, 'Because I have come from the hospital, and she thinks doctors have followed me home so they will follow her home. Because she is mad. So there.'

It took some connivance to get my mother to overcome her aversion, but eventually it worked. When she walked in,she sat down and twittered like a bird at her elder sibling.

'You see my sister, this mother of yours looking so well and healthy?' Came the sharp tones of the Termagent across at me,  'Do you know how often she has visited me in four years?'

'You mean the sister sitting in front of you now?' Was my rejoinder, laughing. The old lady rolled her eyes and laughed too.  The third of the sisters came in with her daughters and grandson, and the evening turned very pleasant. The Termagent showed me the photo album of her favourite grand-niece (daughter of her sister's daughter?) which was an eye opener. I understand that first communion is a big deal in Southern Spain but had no idea how big. It's like a tiny wedding, with the little girl done up in white lace and ribbon and tulle, her hair professionally done, all curls and flower adornments, and this photoshoot thing, little girl by fountain, little girl holding flowers, little girl sitting on silver crescent moon... then joining the other children, boys dressed up as sailors and in suits. One little fellow was dressed as a mini-generalissimo, complete with chains and epaulettes. Very strange.

The night ended with my mother saying she would visit more often. I returned to my hotel on the Plaza Del Carmen, exhausted with... I don't know, who gets exhausted with shopping?  My mother doesn't get how I run out of headspace for it. I was so tired that even hearing the inevitable party going on outside, it wasn't in me to get dressed and go out to enjoy the atmosphere. Instead, I tried to phone-photo the Celtic Warrior* riding his way across the Town Hall Roof  while revellers prepared for the Crux De Mayo celebrations. Then I slept badly. Next time, I'll just go dance.
Turns out he's not a Celtic Warrior. He's based on a painting called, 'The Precise Moment.' The sculptor was Ramiro Megias Lopez, the painter was Guillermo Perez-Villalta. 


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 8th, 2016 09:22 pm (UTC)
If that was the "Lost entry" it was fun to read. Always good to have experiences - and especially the dialogue of others - that could have come out of a very readable novel (or to be saved-up to someday be so inserted)

May. 9th, 2016 03:50 pm (UTC)
It was indeed the lost entry.

Thank you for saying such nice things about it :-) Lj has become something between a discipline, a diary and a scrapbook for me. Even if I never use the bits and pieces I record, it will be something to muse over one day.
May. 9th, 2016 11:58 pm (UTC)
I hope that the wedding dress shopping clarified your views on the wedding dress you have. I'm willing to bet it looks stunning - but if you still don't feel it then it's no good for your wedding day.
May. 10th, 2016 08:22 am (UTC)
You are quite right!

It really did help, got everything very clear in my mind. I'm much happier.

Mum wanted me to buy this heavy beaded silk thing, she fell madly in love with it, but it was a muddy pink, one of those half and half colours that doesn't do me any favours. She's still holding out hopes of persuading me when we return for my cousin's wedding in June!
May. 10th, 2016 03:13 pm (UTC)
I'm really glad you've got some clarity - I was a little worried about you. I hope you managed to return from Spain without too many hurt feelings.

I recall my mother telling me that I needed more sparkle in my wedding outfit, and offering to front further money specifically to fund a dress with an entirely sequinned bodice, despite the fact that I hated it. I think there's a mothers and weddings thing - Mum complained of having her wedding dress made for her the first time she got married - and having no input as to the style at all. One of the many perils...just so long as you come out of the other side feeling good.
May. 12th, 2016 07:52 am (UTC)
Thank you, I do feel a lot better now.

I think there is a generation of women who wore the wedding dress their mothers bought them and never got the chance to apply their own preferences. Mum wasn't one of those, she was a complete diva when it comes to such things! But she too had the blingthing - she always wanted me to wear a La Croix thing encrusted with jewels. Now she's toned things down, it's all rather more Downton. I have gone for neither!
( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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