I went to the military ball and I did not wear yoga pants. It took days of shopping and searching but I finally found a dress.
Two, actually. In the Third Ward area of Milwaukee there are a few cute little dress shops, and in one boutique there was a single dress that fit me, but the pattern on the fabric wasn’t right for the occasion. I’ve decided to go back and buy it anyway because now that I know just how hard it is for me to find a decent dress that fits I should grab it while I can so that way I will know I have two dresses to choose from in my closet if I need something.
Shopping in the boutiques was funny because my size 12 to 14 self was so big there, looking through the size 4 dresses, but the salesladies were all so sweet. When I say there was one dress that fit me in that store, I mean it was the only thing labeled ‘large’ and it was of a stretchy, forgiving material that worked on me. But the salesperson wanted me to have options so she handed me a couple of other cute things to try. One was labeled a size six, and the other an eight. I looked at her like she was delusional, and she said, “Oh, just try them anyway, you never know.” But you know what I know? I am not a six. It was like trying to get one of Mona’s outfits on, which was kind of hilarious. Either that salesgirl was paying me some kind of ‘but you look like you could wear a six!’ compliment, or she really couldn’t fathom a size six was small for some people. Anyway, I’m going back for the one large dress when I have a minute.
The place where I got the dress I wore to the mil ball was called Lela. The salesperson found several dresses for me to try, and the one I bought I wouldn’t have picked up on my own, but she thought it would work. She didn’t even laugh at me when I accidentally put it on backwards the first time so she earned her commission.
Anyway, the dress is nice and simple, and cut in a way that I didn’t feel like I had to suck in my stomach. The sleeves are comfortable enough that I could play viola in this dress if I ever needed to, and since there are no zippers or buttons up the back or sides it should still fit just fine if I’m able to keep losing weight. I’m really happy to have found this dress! (photo after the jump)
(photo before the ball by Carol Kraco)
And doesn’t Ian look handsome in his uniform? (The dog didn’t think so. He just kept barking at Ian as if he’d never seen him before. The dog is cute, but apparently not very bright. Or maybe we’re missing something since we don’t view everything from ankle height.)
The mil ball itself was fine. I haven’t been to one probably since Quinn was born, but they are all remarkably similar. There are lots of people in uniform, dry chicken to eat, the symbolic empty table with a candle and a rose for soldiers who are missing, and speeches. It was nice to meet the people Ian works with, but the room was very cold. About a third of the women had put their coats on by the time dessert was served.
The main thing that was different this time was the perspective. The first military ball I attended with Ian was in 1991. He was a cadet and I was the out of place girl on his arm in a recycled prom dress. We were seated very far from anywhere and we could see the important people at the head table finishing their meals before we even got our salads. Twenty years later we’re now at the head table, eating first and chatting with a General on one side and a Colonel on the other. For Ian it’s a measure of his level of accomplishment, but for me it’s not that big a difference even though I appreciated not having to wait to eat.
The guest speaker was General Seward who was very nice and according to the program had a list of military awards and accolades as long as my arm. (Although he informed me he also plays the bagpipes, but that wasn’t on the list.) The Army is not my world so I’m not awed by rank and I can talk to anyone. The General asked me about violin making and I answered the standard questions the way I usually do. (When Ian and I go to military gatherings I end up talking a great deal because at least what I do is different. When Ian comes with me to violin maker events, he does much of the talking because he’s the only soldier and people are fascinated.) After the General took his obligatory tour of the room he came back to our table and declared me the most interesting person at the event. I was probably the only person who wasn’t scared to talk to him which would skew his perception, but who knows? Ian still thinks I’m interesting after more than twenty years together, so maybe I could flatter myself into believing it’s true.
It was nice having a night out with just Ian, and it was good to go out in clothes that didn’t have wood shavings on them for a change. But I have to say, the best part of the day was a few hours before we left for the ball. Ian had to sew a couple of things onto his uniform, and I decided to paint all my nails. So we hung out on the bed together while we attended to our little tasks and watched sitcoms on my laptop. We tend to divide and conquer in order to get things done because it’s more efficient and there is so much to do, and as a result we seldom really have time to just be together doing not much of anything. It was nice. (Because after more than twenty years, a bunch of military balls, and three children later, I know I still find my husband the most interesting person in the room.)
(One more photo by Carol)