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They don’t think the dresses will change them, but they do. The moment the hand touches the hangar the wearer’s will seeps away into the rustling cloth and the shoes and makeup assume their places as natural accomplices, manipulating the hands and feet while the dress deals accordingly with the torso.
The dress’s voice is soft as it murmurs take over the mind just do it you know you want to the wearer will never know just do it and be done with it… The ego abides and blinks and opens the wearer’s eyes as its own. Seeing for first time in months, the ego admires the nail polish on the hands it now controls.
The dress is subtle. It wields power cleverly by directing its subordinates, the shoes and the makeup. The shoes convince the hips that the world is the wearer’s catwalk and the mascara reminds the eyes to only carelessly scan their surroundings. The dress nods its satisfaction as the eyes obey. The wearer is weak-minded and easily overcome. Caught up in the thrill of the moment, it abides without a care in the world.
They don’t see it, but I do. How the dresses change them. Nice girls, too, who make promises in the familiarity of school only to flippantly break them among the candlelit tables and the roving lights on the dance floor.
Sometimes I wonder if they even realize what they’re doing. If they’re aware on Monday morning how they treated their friends Saturday night. If they’re saying things they know they don’t mean or if they mean them in one moment but not in the next? Either way, people are purposefully deceiving others or unintentionally deluding themselves. And in the end, is one any better than the other?
The dress may rarely leave the closet, but it knows its exalted position. How the wearer pauses from time to time to take it out and admire it. How the dress in a position to receive compliments as no other articles of clothing are.
So I can understand why the dress doesn’t always view the wearer’s friends with rosy approbation. Just because the wearer values them, the dress need not, not if it can find something better, someone better, if that someone has something better than the someones or somethings the wearer had the day before. But the dress also knows its time in the real world is limited, so it makes meticulous plans and dreams of the day when it will wear the wearer and dance the night away.
It was freezing in the lobby, but the coats and sweaters didn’t stay on for long because the dresses reminded the egos to tell the wearers to reveal the dresses, an easy task really, because isn’t that what it’s all about?
There were little gold stars sprinkled on the tables, pleasing to the eye, but functional too, a means of occupation while waiting for others to arrive. Idle hands would later manipulate these stars into a more pleasing configuration; a larger star, perhaps, which another dress would comment was in fact, a little lopsided.
“They’re all blonde and made up and not from here. His is a brunette, though, but I don’t really care because all I really wanted was for him to be alone. I wanted to be able to make a nice gesture without having to get the rest of the world’s approval first.
“I should’ve known, though. I was hoping for a miracle, the impossible really, but here we are, face to face with the cold hard truth again. It was stupid to think it would be different this time because it’s not. It’s exactly the same: People you thought were your friends are suddenly scrabbling for higher social ground, ready to tread on your feet and elbow you out of the way or ignore you completely if it suits them.
“So what’s the point of fighting it really? Try to do anything differently and the social boundaries snap you back like rubber bands, just to remind you of the state of things. And if you’re defiant and think that you can break through, you might stretch the boundaries a little farther than you ever stretched them before—that is, until the boundaries snap you back, harder, this time.”
The middle of the dance floor is crammed with bodies. The dresses dislike the way their wearers push them up down left right readjusting them as if they’re the ones in control. But the dresses are forced to humor their wearers because what would the dresses be but another item of clothing in the closet without their wearers to flaunt them?
“Does anyone else find it awkward to be smashed against a bunch of sweaty people they don’t really know?”
If you’re not having fun by now, you’re missing something. The shoes may be cast off and the makeup faded, but dance is in full swing. Everyone’s on the dance floor—well, except for the people who aren’t, but we don’t really care about them, now do we?
The dresses are anxious. The clock is ticking down to midnight and Cinderella’s ball gown may fade back into rags when its strikes twelve, but the wearer will remain and if the dress doesn’t leave its mark and fast…what will be remembered but the dress’s failure if nobody lavishes it with compliments and nobody’s eyes wander back for another furtive glance? If that happens, the dress can only hope to be cast into disgrace and never worn again.
Appearances are deceiving. If you think everyone’s having a wonderful time, look again. The mind can be prone to distortion when the ego uses the eyes but it’s sadly unreliable when insecurity’s at the helm. Everyone’s so caught up in their own misery that they assume everyone else is moving through the night without a care in the world.
Study the faces as I have and you’ll see the difference between perfection and the appearance of it. The strained smiles, looks of annoyance, exasperation, exhaustion, irritation, fatigue. Someone trades one friend for another. He walks right past her. She looks through him. They’re not talking to her. He doesn’t care about them.
And then I begin to wonder if I was wrong. If I’ve given the dresses more credit than they deserve. Dresses, after all, do not create power. They only wield that which the wearer gives them. And if people believe themselves vastly superior in a dress, well, it reflects on them as individuals. Two girls may be the same dress without the same result.
I see that now.
“I didn’t think I’d be able to talk to them on Monday. To act like nothing had happened without being like ‘oh yeah, remember how you totally ignored me Saturday night? What was that about?’ I hate it when people act like you’re expendable until they need something and then it’s suddenly ‘I really didn’t understand the math homework. Help me?’
“So by Monday morning I’d resolved myself not to fraternize with the enemy. But when I sat down and she started talking to me like we were friends again I inwardly sighed in defeat, because really, what can you do? Create unnecessary conflict or go on with life? Sure, the latter’s not as satisfying as the former, but people are imperfect and always will be. You have to give them the benefit of the doubt or give up on everyone.
“I guess the main thing is just to know your limitations. Know other people’s limitations. Know that a dress won’t be the deciding factor of whether you have a good time or not. You are. So that also means you probably shouldn’t go if the only thing you want to do is show off your dress.
“In the end, I decided to let it go and we went over homework didn’t talk about the dance. And things were…okay.”
If you listen to the stories—really listen, not just to the words, but to the implications nestled inside the silent gestures and subtle twitches of the face—you’ll see that in the end everyone’s hurting, whether it’s themselves or others. Intentionally or unintentionally. To be sure there’re always a select few, the chosen ones, if you will, whom the world seems to revolve around, but, like I said, appearances are deceiving. That night might be their night of perfection, but what about all the other days in the year? And if there’s one thing people are good at it, dresses or no dresses, it’s putting up a front that says everything is fine.
The dress lay on a heap of dirty laundry waiting to be washed.
Everything was quiet.