She’s standing in front of the full length mirror, looking at her reflection with a degree of apprehension. That red dress…no. It’s too red, and it hugs her hips too much. She turns around and makes her final judgement. No, not this red dress. What would they think if she had to bend down to greet one of those children from Sunday school? Especially the ones who insist on crying until you had touched their sticky faces. She shudders at the thought.
“Tomorrow, when I go to work I’ll wear this”, she thinks to herself.
She turns around and looks at the other candidates draped over the bed. The floral print one was beginning to fade, a result of too many washes. “I should donate that one…soon,” she thinks as she folds it in half. The only other real candidate is the sleeveless white top-black bottom knee length peplum dress. It doesn’t really flatter her figure but it is the only decent, bend-over proof dress in the line-up. She picks it up and throws it over the top of the mirror frame.
Much grunting and gymnastics later and she’s out of the red dress and in the peplum. Just one thing to go, zipping up. She reaches for the zip but can’t find it. Why are dresses designed like this? Would it hurt to have the zipper in a more accessible place? Not the front obviously but somewhere more accessible so a girl could dress herself without anyone’s help, just a thought. She gropes fruitlessly for the zip then gives up. She turns her back to the mirror and meets a great disappointment. The zip is missing.
Damn! This is the dress she wore to that date last week. The one with the guy that kept playing tricks all evening and broke her zip when he was fooling around. What was he thinking? Putting your hand over her shoulder is so 1960. She shakes her head in dismay as she recalls the night, when he put his hand over her shoulder, yawning as he did so.
“I need to get some fresh air,” she said trying to extricate herself from his cheap cologne. He seemed somewhat disappointed by this but he begun to remove his arm, only the back of her dress tugged up with it.
“What are you doing?”
“I think I’m stuck.”
“I think I’m stuck.”
“My sleeve is caught on your zip thing.”
She rolled her eyes and sighed in severe frustration. “I think I can get it out,” he said as he examined the back of her neck. With a palm to her face she waited to be set free. This was officially a bad date.
She had to walk home on a modestly warm evening all wrapped up in a thick black leather jacket to preserve her dignity as he sheepishly held onto the now useless zip. Worst date ever.
She exhales. Red dress it is.
Grunting, aerobics, gymnastics, red dress on!
She looks at her hips, exaggerated in the red dress, bulging even. And her knees, now totally exposed without even the hope of hiding in the shadow of the hem of her dress. She dare not turn around. She knows too well not to begin that guessing game. Then it hits her!
But the excitement dies down when she remembers the two previous sessions of work out she just had. “I have beautiful knees,” she thinks to herself. She glances at her wrist for the time but her watch is missing. She looks immediately at the bed and finds the watch lying innocently next to the faded floral dress. She straps it on, slips into her black heels with white polka dots, and picks her black purse and out she goes.
Her walk to the bus stage is uneventful and gratefully she gets a seat by the driver in the matatu.
More people labor into the matatu, seemingly their eyes fixed to the ground as they admit to sleeping in or not paying enough attention to time. Or even watching cartoons instead of legging it to ‘holy’ Church. They form the late service group and she’s a proud member. The second service was designed with people like her in mind. And yet that is not what’s on her mind, he is.
He plays the guitar…acoustic or something like that. He’s probably already at the church, warming up for the second service. With this dress on she’ll probably have to sit in the second or third row to avoid distracting him. And even if she did, he’d probably just smile his small smile, purse his lips and get on playing.
He was always like that, cryptic. If men were open books his language was written in hieroglyphics. He smiled, but only slightly, and at everything. Simple things, complex things, children, adults, compliments even insults. Nothing fazed him, except her.
He would try to avoid her but the gentleman in him wouldn’t let him. So he would see her and put some physical space between them. He would steal glances of her while he was playing his guitar on stage, at least she thought he was. And after the service he would find an excuse to hang around her, or let her hang around him. She had no idea which was which but some hanging around was going on and no one was complaining. It had to be her. The after service tea was not that good and who ever enjoyed eating a cold scone?
The driver eases into his chair and pauses, looking down at her knees… she hopes. She looks at him from the corner of her eye, turning her head ever so slightly and arching her eyebrows so he notices the look on her face. This dress can cover no more of her body than it already is.
(Find out what happens at Church tomorrow)