Leigh pulled the dress over her head and tried not to inhale the musty/stale cigarette odor that still clung to it. Popping her head out, she wrestled the rest of the dress over her chest and hips and turned to take a look in the dressing room mirror. “Huh, that’s actually not too bad,” she said to her reflection as she smoothed the dress down before checking her posterior to see how it was fairing in the garment, “not bad at all, actually”. Taking the dress back off, Leigh noticed someone had written something on the back of the collar. “JG loves LD” Leigh read aloud. “Cool,” she thought.
Having scoured several Goodwill Thrift Stores that day, Leigh was beginning to think she wasn’t going to find anything… which would have been a bummer. It was 80s Day at school tomorrow, and Leigh, as usual, had waited until the last minute to find an outfit.
Bringing her find to the counter, Leigh had a second stroke of luck when the dress rang up at half price, $3.59. “Man, what a steal!” she smiled in delight at the kindly cashier. Eyeing the dress, the cashier knitted her brows slightly, “If you say so dear. Have a blessed day,” and handed Leigh her receipt.
Upon arriving home, Leigh went directly to the laundry room and tossed the dress into the washer with a few other items. Leaving the machine to its task, she walked into the kitchen for a snack before throwing herself into the homework assignment she had due tomorrow. Barely noticing her parents when they came home from a day of their own shopping, Leigh worked on her assignment until about 11 o’clock, before deciding she had better get some shut eye. After ensuring her dress was ready for its debut the next day, Leigh readied herself for bed and turned in.
Sleeping through her alarm (again) Leigh was a frenzied whirlwind as she attempted to get out of the door in time for school. “Leigh?” her mother, Janice, called through the bathroom door, “Are you dressed dear? I wanted to see your ‘80s outfit before going to work”.
“Sorry, mom!” Leigh yelled back through the shut door, “I’m running super late and don’t even have it on yet. Can you just see it when I get home?” Leigh continued to apply the bright aqua eye shadow before applying way too much fuchsia blush in long streaks to both cheeks. “Sure, honey. No problem. Have a nice day and take pictures!” Leigh heard her mother move down the hallway and a few seconds later heard the front door open and close.
School that day was a blast. Everyone had pulled out all the stops for 80s Day, even the teachers got into the spirit (although Leigh was almost positive some of the older teachers had only needed to search the back of their closets for the day’s ‘costume’). Leigh and her group of friends had posed for hundreds of pictures together in their outfits, and she had received more than a few compliments on her dress. During the assembly later that day, she was even crowned as “Queen Bee” of 80s Day thanks to her ‘choice’ attire. Following school, Leigh and her gang decided they wanted to show off their duds to the rest of the world and continuing the 80s theme, headed to the mall.
It was close to 7:30pm when Leigh arrived home to find her parents already seated at the dinner table. “Sorry, I’m late. Did you get my message mom?” Leigh felt a little guilty about her tardiness and seeing her mother’s blank stare she knew she was in for it. “It’s ok, Leigh. Come sit down and grab some dinner before it gets cold,” Larry, her dad, replied when his wife failed to respond after a minute had passeed. Filling her plate with salad, a piece of garlic bread and her mom’s specialty, eggplant parmesan, Leigh was about to dig in when she noticed that her mother was still staring at her in a very odd way. “Oh, I forgot…” Leigh stood up and twirled in her 80s dress, “I won 80s Day Queen Bee at school today, everyone loved the dress. What do you think mom?” she looked hesitantly at her mother. At that moment a large, wet tear rolled down Janice’s face and before Leigh could react to her mother’s strange behavior, Janice bolted from the table and ran out of the room.
“What’s wrong with mom?” Leigh asked her dad worriedly. “I haven’t the faintest,” Larry was as confused as his daughter at his wife’s behavior. Janice soon reappeared and returned to her seat at the table with what looked like an aged photograph. “Mom, what’s going on? Are you ok?” Leigh stood up and walked around to where her mother was sitting. “I’m fine dear, I’m just fine,” Janice replied with a bright smile despite the tears that were still falling down her face. “I want to show you something. Larry, you too; you are not going to believe this,” Janice waved for her husband to join then at the other side of the table.
“In 1986, your father asked me out for the very first time. From the moment I met him, I knew he was the man I was going to marry. I was so nervous for the date to go well, and I spent hours picking out the perfect outfit for that night. The date turned out to be a disaster, do you remember, Larry?” Janice looked up at her husband who had also grown a bit misty-eyed. “Of course I do, sweetheart. I wanted everything to go perfectly- I made reservations at this fancy French place; I bought your mother a dozen roses and even packed a picnic dessert for after dinner. Unfortunately, your mother was allergic to the flowers and her face turned as red as the roses, then on the way to the restaurant my car ran out of gas and we had to walk a mile to the next gas station. Then it started raining cats and dogs on the walk back to the car. I was sure I’d never see your mother again after that night,” Larry smiled at the memory.
“Despite all that, I came home that night and knew that we were meant to be together,” Janice grabbed Larry’s hand and squeezed it lovingly. “So, I found a permanent marker and wrote our initials in the collar of the dress I had worn that night, I thought it was my lucky dress. Five years later your father and I were married and a year later, you came along,” Janice smiled nostalgically at her daughter who was now staring in disbelief at her mother. “After years of just hanging in the back of my closet, I sold my dress in a yard sale over 10 years ago. But here you are, somehow wearing the very same dress I wore all those years ago. I guess it really is a lucky dress after all,” her mother smiled as she showed Leigh the picture in her hand. It was a slightly faded photo of her father as a young man with rain-slicked hair and her mother… wearing a partially wet gray, blue and pink striped dress… the same dress Leigh had worn all day.
“JG loves LD!” Leigh shouted as she recalled the writing on the collar, “Janice Goodwin loves Larry Danning!” she exclaimed and hugged her mother in true astonishment at this bit of kismet.
The Not So Fantastic Reality:
The above story was inspired by the following tidbits I encountered today:
ONE: Today I had a bunch of fun trolling the racks of several Goodwill stores around the Central Florida area for random and awesomely unique clothing and other brick-a-brak. You never really know what you are going to find walking through those crowded aisles and the people-watching is just as good as the shopping (usually better). So while Andy searched for some new slacks, I lazily sorted through the dress rack. And there it was. The sweetest dress straight out of the 80s I have ever laid eyes on. I immediately wanted to break into ‘the robot’ but managed to restrain myself and took the dress into the dressing room for a look-see. Ok, so I know there won’t be a lot of occasions that will call for such an awesomely dope dress, but I couldn’t resist. Who knows, I might even wear it to work if I’m feeling plucky one day (what… the 80s are totally back, right?).
TWO: The name Leigh is an ode to my pops, H. Lee Handley who had a birthday today (incidentally, Leigh is also my middle name). Happy Birthday, Dad! Hope you had a fantabulous day!
THREE: There was another interesting find at the thrift store today. At the Orange City Goodwill, I was beginning to tire of shopping (I have a very low threshold for crowded stores filled to the brim with people) and I was only half paying attention when my fingers fell upon a pair of short-pants that looked very familiar. On closer inspection I discovered that they were in fact the very same pair I had given away over a year ago. They had the same snag by the front pocket, were my size (at the time… Sam needs to hit the gym) and the same unique lining that had attracted me to them in the first place (I have a thing for interesting linings in clothes, weird I know). How had they ended up all the way in Orange City (a good 40 minutes away from my current place of residence)? I almost bought them; feeling like it was some type of sign from the universe that we should be united. I fought the urge though and after a sentimental grin, I set them back and moved on.
Love & Squirrels.