A Short Story by M.L. Rosynek
In a world where so many changes have occurred during the last century, one constant remains untouched. Almost all little girls grow up dreaming of their personal Cinderella endings. For some, perhaps, their hopes and dreams are to become a CEO, all the while wearing the crispest St. John suits and paying for their very own Birkin bags. However, there are still countless Friday night slumber parties where girls stay up giggling and blushing while reading Judy Bloom passages and creating detailed outlines for their "Happily Ever Afters". This will prove to be quite challenging for future wedding planners, who had better be prepared to juggle the perfect bougainvillea and rose bouquets, while also convincing the groom that German chocolate cake in the shape of his favorite mascot is simply NOT an option. It is an unspoken rule among certain social circles that in order to have your engagement portrait included in Sunday's Social Diary, status and name recognition are key. With people becoming household names simply because of a viral YouTube video, why does it still matter where the newly engaged young man's Bunny hails from? Does the question still need asking if she wears Lilly Pulitzer on Sundays at the Country Club or if or she wears a nonexistent La Perla bikini as this month's latest Instagram model? Are the unspoken rules born or bred?
Claire and Annette are the closest of friends, bound by their sorority sister ties, and pink Greek paddles which still hang proudly on their doors. They endured a harrowing pledge semester during which both took turns being maternal toward one another after having too many limoncello shots and holding each other's hair back for unspoken reasons. After four plus years, countless Mixer costumes worn, and many party pics later, the only obvious next step was assuming the all-important titles of Bride and Maid of Honor.
Claire, born into a monied family, was still mesmerized by her three carat, colorless, emerald cut diamond solitaire, which was presented to her in a blue Tiffany's box. As she emerged from her car, she tilted her left hand upwards toward the sun, allowing the light to reflect off of the platinum band. Her ballerina pink manicure helped the bride to believe, even for just an instant, that she was as close to a modern-day Meghan Markle as is humanly possible.
Annette followed her BFF, watching her as she adjusted her navy A-line skirt, ensuring that all of the pleats fell perfectly above her knees. They reached for the gilded double doors of the chicest bridal shop in the city. A strange feeling began consuming Annette as she felt a twinge of jealousy toward her friend. No matter, Annette remembered that she wore that same skirt with a fitted bodysuit. "I would never," she thought.
However, Claire didn't possess a 5"10' model figure like her Maid of Honor. She could probably stand to lose ten pounds and ditch the predictable brown bob hairstyle she has sported for the last few years. Sometimes, it is what isn't spoken that one can't erase from their memories. Annette began to see visions of her very own Pippa Middleton moment at this year's biggest society event.
The girls stepped their single-soled sling-backs firmly inside the shop's whitewashed walls. The only contrasting color came from the avant-garde steel pipes which were home base to rows of exquisitely hung dresses. Claire began looking for her mother who was to meet them there. In the meantime, Annette decided to peruse the frocks which would eventually become some young lady's exclamation point to a day that she's dreamt of since being inside her mother's womb. Ever so subtly, Annette glanced down at the many numbers and commas stamped onto the hidden price tag. Unlike that of her well-to-do "sister," Annette's upbringing was decidedly middle class. Luckily, being a blond bombshell had its perks, and a few rhinestone crowns later, Annette had packed her Vera Bradley bags and headed off to Rush Week. (Fortunately, as the semesters progressed, the Bradleys were upgraded to Vuittons).
Soon, Claire and her Chanel-clad mother emerged, followed by an overly eager sales assistant with the most perfectly coiffed chignon. The MOTB (Mother of the Bride) continued politely barking orders while air kissing the other pay for play, the Maid of Honor. All of the women entered the plush dressing area, which was the size of a small Soho loft. MOTB played with her very predictable pearls while she handed a list of designer names for dresses that she wanted pulled for her daughter. Now, the only sound came from the Louboutin stiletto heels which continued to clap along as the sales girl scurried across the teak floors.
"Oh, please no," Annette thought to herself. I mean, it's not just anyone who can pull off any dress. The chance of Claire trying to pull off a Narciso Rodriguez, Carolyn Bessette-inspired slip was clearly next to none. Annette was relieved to see that as the offerings began emerging, none appeared to be too form fitting.
Claire had a bit of everything, ranging from romantic, trendy alternative, sexy, and even boho. However, this future bride had locked her eyes onto an ethereal “Grace Kelly-esque” creation. Annette made a small gulping sound as she was truly fearful that anyone who stood less than 5’5” tall would attempt to wear fitted lace.
The two girls soon pulled their favorites from the racks. The bride-to-be gathered up her courage and started peeling away her collegiate clothing. She began having flashbacks of their pledge class when they all opened their linen stock bid cards. There she stood. A young lady dressed in a black Azzedine Alaia bondage dress along with her platform pumps. She might as well have had a strobe light beaming on her. Despite some girls getting a bid who were not considered top tier, there was always one who simply didn't belong.
The room was packed, and the humidity from the August air was almost unbearable. However, no one seemed to notice because the tears were flowing and emotions were running high. After dozens of hugs, the perfectly pressed linen sun dresses were now in dire need of the city's most expensive dry cleaner. Claire was absolutely transfixed. She remembered many episodes of Sesame Street while growing up. The girl in question was the apple among the many oranges
and didn't seem to fit. After all, no one should ever wear fitted Alaia before dinner, and certainly not in black. This beautiful little misfit would soon become Claire's protege'.
Over the course of the next four years, give or take a few sun-soaked summer sessions, the two ladies would forge an enduring friendship that would last a lifetime, or at least a few eventful semesters. Claire included Annette as her “plus one” for charitable galas, while the statuesque blonde helped her newfound bestie comprehend that it was OK to deviate from the gospel handbook, "The Rules". After all, Annette knew a friend of a friend who ended up marrying a suitable prospect after going past “first base” on the first date.
Claire began lifting her arms high in the air, gently guiding the garment over her voluptuous hips. Gradually, the idyllic scene began to grow tense as the beaded back of the "It dress" became increasingly glued to Claire's torso. Despite the Spanx, the pricey item wasn't budging. The future bride began to break down in tears. Annette was puzzled why anyone would even think of eating carbs before 2:00 PM if they were going to be standing in front of a badly-lit mirror! In the meantime, MOTB had become tipsy from the complimentary champagne and snapped, "I can't believe that you're wearing cotton under garments! We are blood to the Old Farm, not the Clampetts!"
Claire and her mother no longer held their tongues, and the once pristine chit chat officially segued into trashy locker room banter that would have embarrassed even a seasoned athlete. The manager begged Annette to seek some additional help.
Annette left, while thinking to herself that her duties should be rewarded with a huge favor. It was bad enough that she once had to steer her dowdy friend away from blunt bangs. The very least this storied family should do for her is to give her a proper introduction to the latest single, polo playing Kennedy.
After discreetly forwarding her message to the next-in-command, the former beauty queen strutted her best 80's super model catwalk back toward the infamous scene in question. As Annette began peeling back the velvety curtains, she stopped, frozen in her perfectly practiced pose.
Claire continued with her ongoing tirade as she screamed, "I'm just doing her a favor. It's not like anyone is really going to take her home to meet his mother."
"Well, sweetie, you could have just placed her in front of the guest book". Finally, the mother and daughter let out audible sighs and began embracing each other. They had no idea that their recent conversation had just been hacked.
Annette released the drapes and turned toward the front door. Was it possible that the squatty girl with no knowledge of what a true Brazilian wax was had been shading her? She began squinting her eyes and rubbing her perfectly yoga-toned core. Had they been as miscast as a bad episode of Gossip Girl? After all, everyone had heard the rumor that Blaire and Serena were only faking it. All of a sudden, perfectly sculpted cheekbones and the best blowout on campus no longer mattered. The small-town girl with hopes and dreams of someday being invited inside the ranks of the highest tax bracket seemed to evaporate into thin air. As she frantically searched for her Uber App, she felt a slight tap on her Zara-clad shoulders.
"Excuse me, can you locate this Vera Wang from Vogue's March issue in a size 10?" Annette was truly mortified. She didn’t know what was worse, being mistaken for a shop girl, or someone asking to try on Wang in a double-digit size! The three women in question managed to make it through the day. Claire ended up choosing the modestly-cut Alexander McQueen simply because it was the most expensive option. MOTB opted for the very appropriate scoop neck gown. (After all, the something new in this particular wedding ended up being her chest size.) The Maid of Honor decided to give everyone something to really talk about. Despite being given a tea-length lilac number, she ditched it at the last minute for a strapless charcoal mini, with matching five-inch Manolos. You might as well leave the party with a bang, she thought. Annette did accumulate over a dozen new contact numbers which were neatly tucked away inside her satin clutch. It appeared that some of the upper crust were willing to expand their horizons after all.
In an era where movies are now streamed, not rented, and college courses can be taken online without ever stepping foot inside a classroom, why do certain things remain unchanged? Is it more rewarding to own the most prestigious boutique, or to be a wealthy patron of one? How does anyone make the all too important decision to swipe "right" for a Saturday night, only to determine that someone isn't "right" for their future. These three women left the afternoon fitting with entirely new perspectives. One became a new wife, as well as the belle of the ball. After she slipped her baguette-filled diamond eternity band onto her finger, the beaming matriarch smiled proudly. The third member of the cast eventually chose to break some steadfast rules and forged her own new traditions, all the while teaching her future daughters to do the same.
Ms. Rosynek is a former television reporter and was a member of Texas A&M track team. She is a mother of three boys who all actively participate in sports. Like so many others, she is a firm believer in the positive impact of athletics and being a part of a team. She feels that the discipline and friendships last much longer than a single season.