I went shopping yesterday with Nikki for a homecoming dress and you were very vividly in my heart the entire time. I kept flashing back to you sitting in a chair outside of the dressing room at – probably Maurice’s in the mall – and trying to must up something beyond, “That looks nice, Kim,” as I paraded different prom dresses in front of you.
You weren’t a big shopper. You never really took us shopping unless it was:
- For a specific need (“DAD I HAVE NO BLUE JEANS! I CAN NOT WEAR MY UNIFORM PANTS IN THE REAL WORLD!”) which always simply involved a trip to Goody’s. No where else. I remember needing to buy dress clothes for work when I got my first real job in Huntsville and being SO GRATEFUL they had a Goody’s because I had no idea where else to buy affordable clothes OR
- For an event for which we had nothing that would work, (“DAD. NONE OF MY CHURCH CLOTHES WOULD COUNT AS A PROM DRESS. UGGGGG!”) in which case we went to the Mall. And not to department stores in the Mall, those were too intimidating, we just went to the regular stores in the Mall for “even” type stuff. I think all of my formal dresses (that I bought, I borrowed a few too) came from Maurice’s.
In the 25+ years since you took me prom dress shopping, I have learned a lot about buying clothes. I don’t avoid department stores anymore, although I only buy things on discount if we go there. They are usually way outside my budget. Instead, we do most of our event clothing shopping at Ross which I think would have been right up your ally because it’s super-affordable and NO SALESPEOPLE. You did not like salespeople because you felt as though they were judging you.
There were a couple of times Nikki walked out in dresses that were VERY WRONG in VERY FUNNY WAYS. Sometimes the dress was just ugly, other times it was unflattering, and once the dress was on backwards but neither of us realized it until I was up close saying, “I really like it but I feel like it’s crooked or something…” and saw the tag on the FRONT instead of the back.
As we started cracking up, I remembered suddenly that you and I shared some of those moments too. My memories from shopping with you usually involved you being blandly complimentary and extremely bored, but laughing with Nikki triggered a few flashes of similar moments where I walked out in something VERY poofy and VERY frilly and you pausing for a moment before laughing like you were waiting to make sure I didn’t love it.
Memory triggers are a regular occurrence as I raise my kid’s in your absence, often memories I didn’t know I had will be triggered by experiences with the kids. Some of the memories I’m okay staying hidden (Like the flashbacks of terrible nights with you helping me with Math!) but most of them are happy and I love when they pop into my mind, like while laughing over backwards dresses with my daughter.
Man, Dad, you’d enjoy your grandkids so much. I hate you’re missing out on them, but I’m glad to have hilarious stories to share with them about you and me laughing at giant poofy dresses in the mall.