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LAce Posted Monday, March 20th, 2006
Raw Silk
Kim Teeple

I carry fifty pounds of white satin over my head. I hear chatter and giggling behind the pink curtain, the bridal party. I push the curtain aside and wait until all eyes are on me. While I’m waiting, I study the bride, her figure.

The bride is bird boned. Her hips, her shoulders, jut out from the slip and bra. She’s asked me to bring her “sheet” gowns to try on. She means sheath, form fitting all the way to the ankles. She thinks the style will emphasize her hard earned anorexia.

The gown is not attractive on her, it’s not the right cut; with my background, having seen a million brides-- I know this. Her bridesmaids flatter her, tell her how wonderfully skinny she is. The bride turns in front of the wall to wall mirrors. “I’m so fat!” she says. A round chorus rings out, “You’re not fat. Look at me, I’m fat!”

I fight hangers, separating them to present each gown in its full and sequined splendor. The bridesmaids, the mother of the bride, and the mother-in-law- to be, coo over each gown. Then I show the gown I’ve saved for last. As I’m accustomed to do, for my own pleasure, I’ve slipped in a simple silk A- line. I’ll agree, when the time comes, with the bride, when she says how plain it is.

It’s raw silk, an eggshell white, with small seed pearls dotting the bodice. It’s simple, understated, and will hide all her bony parts. One of the bridesmaids, her brown bangs sprayed into a tower over her forehead, makes a gagging sound when I present this last gown.

Miss stiletto-bangs sneers, “It’s so boring.” I ignore her, she’s small-town.

The mother of the bride runs her hand across the skirt of the gown.

“Why is this fabric, scratched, snagged?” She asks.

“It’s the nature of raw silk,” I tell her, “it’s expensive.”

Her eyes widen. She caresses the fabric.

“You’d think,” I continue and move the dress out of her reach. “At this price they’d fix it.” I laugh.

She smiles. Her eyes stay on the gown.

Mom, I know, is thinking, if the gown is expensive, other people at the wedding will know it too. I can almost hear her internal calculations. The price of the gown equals elevated status. I’ve won her and her checkbook over.

She tells her daughter to go ahead and try the dress on. “Humor Mommy,” She entreats the bride.

The bride whimpers, pouts, “But Mo-om I want sequins.”

In a way I feel sorry for her. There’s a part of me that understands. I dream about a winter wedding, carrying a holly bouquet, and floating down the aisle in layers of diamond-white tulle. All brides want to be a shimmering princess.

Finally, she gives in to Mom’s prodding, Mom’s daydreams. She raises her arms for me, I put the silk gown over her head, and the fabric whooshes into place. It should be perfect. The A line cut will flatter her starved frame. The simplicity of the gown is dignified. The muted white, is soft and rich looking. We don’t see the gown-- we see the bride.

And looking at the bride, not the dress, we all notice it. A collective gasp ripples through the dressing room.

Her thin face is skull like-- a grimace. Her eyes are dim, watery, vacuous. The split ends in her yellow bleached hair wave like a thousand antennas. Her teeth are yellow too, the gums bloody ‘round the edges. She’s ghastly, a horror, frightening, the bride of Frankenstein was prettier. Any perceived attractiveness has been shed like a skin; she’s an illusion, a slight of hand, a magician’s trick that’s been exposed.

We all agree. She needs sequins, thousands of them! White shimmering satin, bright neon white! More of everything! The gown! We only want to see… the gown!

But the bride, she wants her mother to buy her the raw silk.

I make the sale; it’s a good sale with a big commission. I leave the dressing room dejected-- I failed this bride.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Nonnie Augustine on Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 9:10 AM
Funny, believable, and sad-quite a combination! Nonnie

Posted by Anna McDougall on Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 9:30 AM
Excellent Kim, truthful and heartbreaking.

Posted by Myfanwy Collins on Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 9:38 AM
Kim, what an exquisite story. I love it.

Posted by Kathy Fish on Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 9:40 AM
Powerful story, Kim!

Posted by jeff landon on Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 11:42 AM
This is a wonderful story, Kim Teeple. I am proud to know you. Way to go. Keep your eye on the rainbow!

Posted by Katrina Denza on Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 1:17 PM
Beautiful story, Kim!!

Posted by nance knauer on Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 4:58 PM
Amazing details to this striking story, Kim. Love the idea of bright neon white. You must have a few more bridal stories. Let's here them!

Posted by Patricia Parkinson on Monday, March 20th, 2006 at 6:27 PM
Ohhhh Kim, this is so beautiful and lovely and then it's funny but heartfelt at the same time, I love, love, a holly bouquet, and floating down the aisle in layers of diamond-white tulle. You have captured the dream of all brides. I look forward to reading more of your work. xoxoxo

Posted by P. H. Madore on Tuesday, March 21st, 2006 at 12:49 AM
"The bride is bird boned. Her hips, her shoulders, jut out from the slip and bra." Well done, Kim. You are a positive person and a good writer. Don't stop.

Posted by Cecilia Miller on Tuesday, March 21st, 2006 at 9:12 AM
You adeptly paint a picture for us in this piece. You appear to be taking your readers in one direction when, with your own slight of hand, you push us into another that's stark and bares us. This is truly brilliantly written.

Posted by Sharon Hurlbut on Tuesday, March 21st, 2006 at 3:20 PM
Kim, this is stunning, in every sense of the word. Truly a brilliant piece of writing.

Posted by Judy Cabito on Tuesday, March 21st, 2006 at 6:33 PM
An eloquent story mid layers and layers of tulle craftily pealed away exposing the rawness of this girl whose vanity is as ugly as “all her bony parts.” Wow, Kim.

Posted by Gerard C. Smith on Tuesday, March 21st, 2006 at 10:13 PM
Wow! You captured it. Great work.

Posted by Miriam Kotzin on Tuesday, March 21st, 2006 at 11:27 PM
This has such perceptive observations; great story here.

Posted by In Transit [ ] on Monday, April 3rd, 2006 at 9:57 PM
A pleasure to read... the comments are well thought... U No Who heartily suggests to read a wonderful story: SILK (SEDA in Italian SOIE in French) by Alessandro Baricco, and then when you have finished that go on to PERFUME (PARFUM in French) by Patrick Suskind... Ciao I'm off to Egypt for the smells & colours of the souks and St Catherines Monastery in Sinai for Easter... Lawrence

Posted by Delores Carson on Thursday, June 15th, 2006 at 7:13 PM
Kim, The tip on writing, "write what you know, write about where you have been," certainly worked for you... You have taken your experiences and told a poignant story with few words. Best of luck always. Delores Carson

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