It happened again today. Nordstrom somehow managed to have the perfect dress for me for a challenging social commitment. In my size, in a beautiful color, and flattering while also being comfortable. In this case the function is a Saturday evening wedding, but not a *night* wedding, and not formal. But fancy. And at a hip location (too hip for me to have any business going there). The wedding is for two people I don't know and I don't know any of the other guests, except my husband, who is no help on providing guidance on appropriate attire. And yet there it was on the rack. Perfect. And did I mention reasonably priced?
This isn't the first time Nordstrom has been there for me. Previously they helped me rock the ultimate Survivor Style Challenge. Last year in late September I attended an interment at Arlington National Cemetery of a long serving former US Senator. In other words, it was a big deal. Hundreds of people, VIPs, the media, you get the picture. The funeral had been held the previous month up in Alaska so the exact time and date of the interment was known well in advance. Plenty of time to find something appropriate to wear. Except that I assumed that I would be able to wear something with sleeves since it was at the end of September. I have several lovely black dresses that are perfect for fall weather. And when the interment was less than three days away I looked at the weather report and realized it was going to be in the high 80s and humid as all get out. So there I was, frantically trying to find a conservative black dress that was appropriate to wear after Labor Day but still cool enough that I wouldn't melt into a puddle while standing outside. And unbelievably, Nordstrom had just the thing.
I rejoiced in my good fortune and decided to pair the dress with some awesome black patent heels I had also picked up. Even though the heels were 4 1/2 inches high it wouldn't be a problem because all I would have to do is shuffle over to the gravesite in my suitably somber yet stylish and cool ensemble and then shuffle back to the car when it was over. That turned out to be a huge tactical error on my part.
I confess that this was my first interment at Arlington, and since it was for a former US Senator I have no idea whether it was typical. For starters, we were escorted to parking which was aways from where everyone was gathered. That wasn't too bad because I could shuffle the distance just fine. Then there was standing around for awhile - still doing fine although my make up had begun to run off my face. At this point I am craning my neck trying to see where the actual ceremony will take place and am growing puzzled. Then the music started. And the caissons began to move. And suddenly I realized we would be walking in a processional behind them. Down a steep hill. For over a half a mile. In the 88 degree humidity. Oh wait, it gets better. I forgot to mention that I am so sick I can barely stand up, even if I wasn't wearing the 4 1/2 inch heels (I found out the next day I had strep throat). So I wobbled and lurched down the hill and tried not to pass out. And as we walked of course we saw a million people we knew, some that we hadn't seen for over a decade, maybe longer. So there was lots of reminiscing. I can only imagine what came out of my mouth between the pain in my feet and my overall illness and heat delirium.
Finally, after what felt like a lifetime, we made it to the gravesite. But not quite the gravesite, more like an embankment overlooking the gravesite. Remember, there are hundreds of people there, and with my slow shuffling pace we were some of the last to arrive down the hill. At that point I cursed myself for not being elderly or pregnant because those people got rides in air conditioned vehicles and were dropped off right up front. So there we were for the ceremony, me still in those heels, which, with the incline of the steep embankment, caused me to tilt at an alarming nearly 45 degrees. The ceremony lasted over 30 minutes and when it was done we turned to walk back UP the hill. At that point I just couldn't take it any more. I took off the shoes much to the embarrassment of my husband who walked several paces away from me in an attempt to distance himself from my spectacle. Did I mention that the road was gravel over concrete? And yet the pain of walking in stocking feet up a hill in gravel was still less than the agony of walking down the hill in those heels. And my stockings were snagging and tearing and my makeup had completely run off my face and my hair was a frizzy mess. But oh my, I looked awesome in that dress.