My crazy aunt once told me she would frequent Goodwill to purchase satin wedding dresses which she made into pillowcases. I thought everything Aunt Meryle said was true, she was one of the coolest ladies I knew; that and the fact that my bullshit meter was not yet developed. Looking back, I doubt Auntie Meryle ever made a pillowcase in her life and I question that she ever set foot in a Goodwill; but it was a good story and she had lots of them.
I found myself in Goodwill a few years later and thought it would be a hoot to look at the wedding dresses, if indeed Goodwill had wedding dresses. To my amazement they did! An entire section of them. The dust and mildew made me sneeze as I sorted through them. Not a satin one in the bunch, just a lot of lace, taffeta, and bits of silk.
There was one that caught my eye. The lace work was amazing and the buttons ran from the butt to the neck. It’d take a half hour to get it buttoned, I thought. I searched through the lace to find a price tag. The tag displayed a $ with a large 2, this was followed by a small 5000. “It’s either $2.50 $25 or $250. I’ll just ask,” I said as I laid it in my cart. Hanging next to this great find was a veil that seemed to have no end. It was hastily wrapped around the hanger and upon further inspection was priceless.
I took both pieces to the checkout, “Can you tell me how much this is?” I asked showing the confused price tag.
“Ya,” said the guy behind the counter, “It’s $25.00.”
“I’ll take it.”
He rang up the $25 and then informed me, “All dresses are 10% off today, I guess this is a dress,” he said hesitantly. The register display read $22.50. He took the dress, rolled it into a ball and stuffed it in the bag. He then reached for the veil, unable to find a tag, “They must go together.” The veil was also rolled into a ball and joined the dress.
A few years later, when this kid I met when we were 11 asked me to marry him, we were planning a wedding…there was this dress hanging in my closet wrapped in a large garbage bag.
As I stood in the dressing room during the fitting of my attendances, the shop owner asked where I had purchased my dress. “I’m actually wearing one I have. It may need a few alteration,” I said. “Would you be willing to look at it?” “Certainly,” was her response.
At the next visit, the dress accompanied me. As I removed the garbage bag protector, the seamstress’s eyes widened. She began to carefully inspect the dress. “Where did you get this?” she asked. I hesitated. “Do you know what this is?”
Yeah – it’s a dusty old dress from Goodwill that was 10% off and the kid behind the counter rolled it up in a ball and shoved into the bag. Wait till you see the veil. “No,” I said.
“This is a Pricilla of Boston, and it appears that it has never been worn,” the seamstress said as she inspected it further. “I don’t think it’s even been modeled. So where did you get it?” I could tell by the awe in her voice, Pricilla of Boston meant something.
Avoiding the confession, I added, “There’s a full length cathedral veil that goes with it.”
She shook her head. “The veil alone would cost you $5,000.” I bit my lips. In 1980 that was a price of a car.
Several version of my story began to run through my head, most left out the word Goodwill. “I’ve had it a few years,” I said. By now there were a few more people inspecting this treasure that had entered the store in a garbage bag. I finally mustard up the courage to tell my story.
“We won’t touch it,” she finally admitted. “It’s not that we don’t believe you, but with a dress like this, unless we know its history, we won’t risk it.”
Thirty-four years ago today, I wore that dress. It did take a half hour to button it up. I purchased a $5 pair of ballet slippers to wear with it since this kid that I had known since we were 11 was the same height as I and I didn’t want to be taller than he. My grandfather worried that the dress would fall apart as I walked down the aisle, Pricilla of Boston meant nothing to him, Goodwill did.
The $27.50 ensemble made it down the aisle and the kid that I’ve known since we were 11 have made it through thirty-four years of marriage. On our 30th anniversary, I told him that we were both young enough to end this marriage and have another 30 years with someone else. He quickly responded, “Who would ever want to do this again?” We both laughed and agreed, so we’re stuck with each other for another 30.
Happy 34th – to the kid I met when we were 11.
Footnote: Einstein said, “Either you believe everything is a miracle or nothing is.” I happen to believe that everything is; meeting the one you will spend your life with at the age of 11, 34 years of marriage, children, grandchildren … and priceless wedding dresses that end up in Goodwill.