Back in September I started thinking about my Marine Ball dress. When the pouch can take a month and dresses may take six weeks to special order, September is a very good time to be thinking about a dress you will be wearing in November. I looked around on the internet for a bit, and as usual, didn't find anything with sleeves that I liked. So of course my mind turned to sewing.
I brought this up with Brandon. "You know..." I tried to say as casually as possible one evening as we were getting ready for bed, "I was thinking the other day... maybe I would sew my Marine Ball dress this year."
Brandon swiveled his head toward me, not moving the rest of his body an inch. He fixed me with his dagger-stare, concentrated by the thick black-rimmed glasses hanging off his nose. "What."
"You know," I stumbled on, "because, well, I just can't find anything reasonably priced with sleeves... and... well... I just think it's a good idea...."
"Do you remember last year? A week solid of cold cereal for dinner, black fabric scraps covering the house, and neglected children tearing the house apart around you while you sewed for ten hours a day? Do you remembering sewing the buttons on your dress ten minutes before the babysitter came?! No. Absolutely not." He paused, gathering his decency. "Of course, if you really want to, you can. Just start now. But I think it's a bad idea. You're pregnant and worn out. You have school to take care of. It always takes longer than you think. Just buy a dress. I don't care how much you spend. Really. Just get something you like that you don't have to alter."
So I did.
After looking at the entire internet - including fifty-two pages of dresses at NewYorkDress.com - I narrowed down the field to about fifteen that looked like they could accommodate a sixteen-week pregnant me. One night in early October I sat Brandon down and made him decide which dress he liked the best.
The next day I ordered it. Then I ordered a tuxedo for Brandon.
After wearing a suit last year he told me that he never wanted to wear a suit to the Marine Ball again, a suit was what he wore six days a week and if I was going to wear the nicest thing I could find, he was going to wear a tuxedo. Brandon almost never has a preference, and so when he tells me he wants a tuxedo, even after I tell him how much they cost, I had probably better get him one.
So after ordering my dress from Saks Fifth Avenue, I went over to Jos. A Bank, who happened to be having one of their sales that they have about every other week. Wanting to treat my man right, I ordered a tuxedo and a shirt and cuff links and a black silk bow tie and even tuxedo socks. The only thing I didn't get were the shoes and that was only because Brandon's size was out of stock. Since there was a sale going on, I ordered Brandon another suit (who knew wearing them every day would turn suits into things you bought like socks?) and unsure of which fit would look better, I ordered two.
Three minutes after pressing 'confirm order,' I got an email. We've noticed some unusual spending patterns in your account. Would you confirm that you made the recent order from Jos. A Bank.
I laughed as I imagined the pattern-identifying software scratching its head. I suppose it doesn't fit into our usual shopping habits to kit everyone out for a black-tie event. Maybe I would be a cooler person if it did, but unfortunately for my coolness-factor, the only black-tie event I ever attend is the Marine Ball. The rest of my life I'm just a normal person and the sequined dresses lurk in dark corners in my closet waiting for their turn every few years to come out and play for one night.
Fast forward to last week. Once a month I perform The Great Budget Untangling and comb through all of my purchases in the previous month, assigning each one to a category and wincing at the end as I realize exactly how much more we spent on groceries or media or travel than we were supposed to and then vow to eat nothing but beans and not even look at Amazon until those numbers are black again.
October had been an especially bad month for the budget, between ordering formal gear, traveling to Georgia, and traveling to London, the credit card company was very happy with us. Advancing line by line through my statement I found various guilty parties - Saks, Shoebuy, 6 pm, Etsy - testifying to how much of Brandon's hard work had gone towards clothes for just one night.
One line, however, was missing. Nothing from Jos. A Bank. I looked through my emails. No order confirmation there. I looked on the website. No record of ordering any tuxedos. And then I looked back at the email from my credit card company and read it more closely. "Your credit card has been declined."
Brandon took the news much better than I thought, not even mentioning that my dress had come and he was going to be stuck in a suit again. But of course I felt like the most terrible wife ever - I couldn't even manage to properly honor the one request my husband had made but seemed to have no trouble making sure that I got what I needed. "You'll never live this down," he told me with a smile, "just so you know."
I thought that Brandon had resigned himself to wearing a suit again until he came home Friday night and announced that he was going shopping the next morning - the morning of the Marine Ball. "Roger told me that there was a store at Sahil Metro with great powder-blue frilly suits. If I can't wear a tux, I'm getting one of those." I looked at him, surprised. Brandon hates shopping; I can remember the last time we bought clothes for him together, and he really hates doing things last minute - after all that's why he agreed to buy me a dress that cost more than a dress ought to cost. Maybe he was kidding?
When the shock wore off and I realized that Brandon really, really cared about what he was wearing to the ball that night, I found my voice and suggested that we go to the mall instead. They might actually have real tuxedos, even if we have to pay out the nose for them.
And so we did, packing all of the children into the car, and tumbling them out again to wander the temple of commercialism in the pursuit of black-tie formal wear. On the second try we found one that fit, didn't cost an arm and a leg, and didn't even need the pants hemmed. By 11:45 we were home again, in proud possession of Brandon's first tuxedo. All was right with the world.