Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bridal Dresses

Shopping for a bridal gown with my sister was...


It wasn't like prom dresses. When I walked into a store looking for a prom dress (all five times) I was comfortable. Confident.

Walking into a room filled to the brim with white, fluffy dresses and gossamer veils and cases filled with sparkling tiaras and hairpieces?


I felt ready for it, though, if not exactly in my element. Prom dresses? Hell yeah! How different could a wedding dress be?

The first appointment was at Alfred Angelo's or something like that, which had a dress she really liked. And then she added, "I also had an appointment for a bridesmaid's dress. She's got to try it on so I can see if it will be flattering."

Um...excuse me?

I think I missed something because I'm pretty freaking sure the enticement had been comfortable chairs and champagne and fun as I rated, critiqued, and judged the dresses with cards. Trying things on? No.

No. No. No.

The entire store had no walls! Just lots of mirrors with pedestals! You could literally stand in any spot and see every other person in the store because their reflection just appeared. All well and good for the bride, but for me?

No, I do not think so.

Then Relly proceeded to try on five dresses. Some were pretty. One was so awful I did my pinched up Queen Look and didn't even bother marking it on the score because it was simply that hideous. Seriously, it looked like three different dresses had been cut up and thrown together.

And she did have one that she liked a lot, but she had another appointment at a salon that sold another designer she was very interested in, so she didn't want to commit. I thought I had made off like a bandit without having to try anything on but then she said, "Oh, Chanel still has to try on the bridesmaid dress."

Great. Balls. Of. Fire.

Relly, you really should have your matron of honor try it on. She's got the hardest figure to fit. If this dress is flattering on me it doesn't mean it will work of her.

Relly was adamant. 

Into the dressing room I went, and let me tell you I was not dressed for trying things on. I wore skinny jeans, calf high boots, a cami, and a sweater. Layers over layers to remove to slip into this dress.

That was my size, supposedly, and still too big. And it didn't even cover as much of my anatomy as my bras did, and let me tell you I did not want to step out of that dressing room into the Hall of Mirrors for everyone to see a lot more of me than generally gets revealed.

So I stuck my head out and said, " know, I think something a little less low cut would be best. Some of the other girls will be falling out..."

"Just come out."

I'm not going to lie. I didn't try to put on a happy face. I slouched my shoulders, picked up the dress (because even though the average woman is only five foot four and I am five foot six, they make these dresses to fit six feet tall women so they're all too long) and slumped out. In my stocking feet, I'll have you know, because I didn't take off my socks.

A few pins and tucks, and then, "Alright, it's fitted. You can get up on the pedestal."


"Stand up straight, Chanel, stop slouching!"

Straighten up, but I still held the deep neckline together and restated my case. 

Salesgirl: "Wow, this dress is stunning on you. (To Relly:) Look at the way the line follows her body."

Relly: "I love the cut. See how the halter top makes her collar bones stand out? It looks elegant."

Memaw: "You look so tall! It's gorgeous."

Random other people: "Oh, you're so lucky you get to wear a dress that you rock!" Blah. Blah. Blah.

I can literally see myself no matter which way I turn. I am standing in the middle of a sea of brides and bridesmaids and mothers of the bride and they are all looking, commenting on this very red dress that I am wearing that I think needs to be taken up an inch at the neck.

And then the salesgirl starts tucking in the front, getting very close to me, mentioning all of the alterations they can make. "We can have them sew this so it isn't so low here if it makes you uncomfortable. The neck won't be so big, we'll get your measurements and get it in your size. This seriously is a stunning look for you. Are you going with this color? Blue? Oh, yes. Blue will be beautiful."

Relly: "You need a tan, though. You're way too pale."

"I am not tanning for your wedding. I am going to be all natural me. Can I please change back now? We know this is the one."

And I jumped down and ran off without waiting for an answer.

But my ordeal was over.

We went to the second store for our appointment to check out the Maggie dresses. And we were early, so the consultant encouraged us to look around and pull anything that stood out while she prepared a room and pulled the dresses Relly knew she wanted to try.

So we perused. And I found this halter dress with this gorgeous, sparse beading and a low back that was stunning. Relly agreed and we added that to her dresses. All in all there were seven dresses to try on. And none for me.

So I took a seat in a very large, accommodating arm chair, my grandmother sat in a chair next to me. And we waited for her to come out. 

The first dress was beautiful. It was flattering, and even though I hate rouching (is that how you spell it?) it made her waist look absolutely tiny. It was gorgeous, and definitely my favorite of all of the dresses she tried on so far.

The second was pretty, but no good.

The third...not so much.

The fourth...was very pretty, but she liked the first one better.


Sixth? Well, it was stunning, absolutely perfect. But it was way too formal and she couldn't see herself wearing it to the wedding she was planning.

Dress number seven...was the one I had picked. And she came out with a smile. And she did a little dance and looked at herself and said she loved it. Add a veil, take some pictures, add a hair piece...and it was the one. She tried on the first one again, just to be sure, but it was the seventh dress and she knew it.

And that, my friends, was a day of twelve dresses. She decided, and until my fitting, I never have to go back.

My only question is this: how on earth am I going to handle shopping for my own wedding dress?

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A little honesty about my job.

I have a secret.

I've been working at our South location recently.  Not much...just a few times. You know, when it worked with my schedule and didn't entail a three hour bus ride or a six hour walk home in the dark. Just to see what it's like.

And to lend a helping hand. (The entire SM department just up and quit, you know.)

And the secret part?

I kind of love it there.

Okay, I totally don't love the stairs. (Who could?) And it's like a maze up there, and everything is separated. (Which is also a total plus! How many times a day do I get asked for help with guitar stuff at the South side? NONE!)

But I do love the way the people treat me. 

I adore my coworkers here. I really do.

But...let's be honest. I started working with them when I was nineteen years old, and I was a receptionist. So that's really all they see when they look at me. (Okay, so Jay Jay and B-Money are the exceptions to this rule, and Preggers and Jazz because they didn't work there until recently and so didn't know me then.)  When they do something that they shouldn't and I express my dissatisfaction and take the time to explain why they can't just go around leaving things in my department, I get, "You know, it really doesn't matter. When you get used to this job you'll realize it." And when I get angry and express my irritation, the only answer I get is, "It's so cute when you get mad."

My closest coworker actually told me one day that he's planning on leaving and starting his own lighting and sound business and he wanted to take me and Jay Jay away from the store with him when he left. I asked, "Well what would you have me do?"

And he laughed like I'd just asked the dumbest question in the world and told me, "Well obviously you'd be my receptionist. It's not like you can do anything else."

My sales are phenomenal. My customer ratings are up. I had a customer send me flowers as a fucking thank you and the best I can get is receptionist

All that I am, all that I have achievede, every ounce of knowledge I have gained...absolutely worthless in the eyes of the people with whom I spend my daylight hours. 

And the people at the South location...they've only ever known me on the phone. There is no stigma attached to my name and face for them. So when they met me, they treated me like a twenty three year old woman. Like a sane, reasonable human being. And when I mentioned that something they were doing didn't make sense, rather than just laughing and saying, "Oh, it's cute that Chanel thinks she can fix things that are wrong!" and patronize me over "trying to know better than everyone else," they look at me and say, "My god, you're right." And then they fixed it. 

I hate being patronized, and I didn't realize just how bad it was...until I put myself into an environment that actually respected me as a musician, as a coworker, and as a woman. 

Oh, I've known for years that my coworkers don't take me seriously. Because I'm  young. Because I am "perpetually happy", because I am endlessly patient.

Things are changing, sure. But are the changing in a way that will help me?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Sweetest Customer EVER Award

So toady I was sitting at work, minding my own business.

Okay, so I was actually on the phone with Bird from our South Store, trying to get through a very complicated pain in my ass special order for a sheet music customer. 

(By the way, Reverend retired. And by retired I mean he came into the store Monday morning and said he was resigning. And then he packed up his things from his office and left and we haven't seen or heard from him since. I just tell his customers that he's retired now because saying he just up and quit on morning doesn't sound as pleasant.)

I was on the phone with him, talking about how inventory was claiming we had six of them, when I heard, "Channelle? She's standing over there."

So I looked up, wondering who had come in looking for me, and there was a delivery guy holding a huge bouquet of red and white flowers in a giant vase.


I was...surprised. Shocked. Immediately thrilled. 

In a confused voice, I interrupted Bird's sentence to say, "Hey, I'll call you back. Some flowers just walked in the door with my name on it." And I hung up.

Everyone was looking at the flowers and saying how sweet Padawan was for sending them, and I was agreeing as I was opening up the card and the delivery guy was getting the paperwork ready for me to sign.

And when I read the card, I was beyond shocked.

"Uh...these aren't from Padawan."

Every single coworker's head swiveled to stare at me.

"They're from a customer."

Everybody hurried over to see.

Oh, I kid you not. A customer sent me flowers. Actually, not even a customer since I failed in every respect to get her what she was trying to find. You see, this woman lives out of state, and she was trying to find sheet music for a song called "Phoenix Burn" by a local band of Austin's called Alfa Rev. The song was featured at the end of a movie called The Sorcerer's Apprentice, and her daughter loved it so much she wanted to use it as an audition piece for a prestigious choir at her school.

So over the last month I have been in contact with the customer, our sheet music suppliers, and the band and band manager trying to locate a single sheet for piano and vocal for this song. And in the end the last answer I received was, "For legal reasons, our manager advises against sending a copy of our originals. We have no printed music."

And that was the end of it. Once they cite "legal reasons" there is no further argument.

So I had to call this awesome customer who was so friendly, so patient, so understanding, and tell her that I couldn't find it. That I couldn't get it. That for legal reasons, there were no copies to be had. And she thanked me and we talked for a few minutes, because she's cool and I like hearing about the goings on up there, and then we hung up and I felt like I had disappointed her. We had been hoping...and all for nothing.

And then she sent me flowers today as a thank you for going above and beyond to try to help them out, and a promise to let me know how her daughter's audition goes. (It's tomorrow.) 

The flowers are red and white, and there's a red and black ribbon around the vase to represent their school colors. And it's honestly the sweetest, most amazing thing a customer has ever done to show appreciation. In fact, I'm the only person in the store to have had flowers as a thank you. (Although one of our regulars did send us pizza as a thank you for some repair work and general awesomeness, but that was for everyone.) 

It was epic. 

And just for's a picture.

This completely and totally makes up for every single rotten customer I've had in the last year. I'm even feel ready to forgive the jackass who said my eyes were creepy and lifeless.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

I've got one word for you: Bride

It's not me. Don't freak out.

Did I tell you guys that Relly became engaged right before Valentine's Day?
I think I may have mentioned it.

And now she's all about the dresses. Bridesmaids dresses, dress code for the guests, and, of course, her own wedding gown. 

She is beyond thrilled. There is absolutely no aspect of planning her wedding that she doesn't love, and she's throwing herself into with all of the energy and joy that she applied to the planning and decorating of her junior prom. Relly lives for this.

We're all happy for her and we all are trying to be as helpful as possible.

Well. All of us except Lydia. 

Wheat was down with the whole thing...for like two days.

Then she decided to ask Relly what I consider to be the stupidest, most selfish, inappropriate thing you could possibly ever ask of a bride planning her wedding.

"When we all start looking for your dress, would you mind if I tried some wedding dresses on, too? Since I didn't have a wedding."

Now, I told her when she called me on the phone and proudly proclaimed, like a nineteen year old moron, that she had eloped and gotten married in a court house and she was going to regret not having a real wedding ceremony and it would be hard for her when the rest of use went through the process of trying on gowns and planning weddings. (I said the same thing to Breazy when she told me she was engaged and wanted to get married at a courthouse one random Tuesday and she thankfully changed her mind about the whole thing.) Lydia had insisted she didn't care about wedding dresses and she wouldn't care.

And then she pops off with that.

And what do you think Relly said?

Of course I would mind. It's my wedding I'm trying to plan. I'm not going to waste my appointment time letting you try on a dress you're not going to buy and you're not going to wear. I'm getting married, you made your choice.

Any normal person would have respected the bride's decision. She's the bride. 

Then again, any normal person would know better than to ask stupid questions like that in the first place.

Lydia, though, didn't react like a normal person. In fact, I believe her exact words were, "Well, fine, if you want to be selfish and just be the center of attention, I don't want to try on a wedding dress." 


I repeat: Rellly is the bride. It's not selfish for her to want to be the only person in the bridal party trying on wedding dresses. She's the only one getting married. That's what that shiny diamond ring on her finger means, and that's why we're all going to a bridal salon in the first place.

And now she's being difficult. About the dresses, about taking time off to go look for them at all, about the shoes, about everything. A pain in the ass.

Now, Lydia has always been the baby. My mother spoiled her rotten to the point of being unreasonable when she wants something, and her husband continued to do it when he took her on as his wife, and she's so self centered now that it would take a miracle for her to see the light. So I know her. She's going to either keep making Relly miserable until she feels like she's gotten her revenge, or she's going to suddenly play nice only to try on a dress against Relly's expressed wishes when we go look at the dress, just to prove she didn't need permission or approval to do it.

In which case I'm going to slap her across the face.

I haven't done it since I was seventeen years old, but so help me God, if she tries to take away from the bride I will smack her so hard her fixed nose will be knocked off center again. 

I may not be traditional in a lot of ways, but one thing I do know is that the wedding is for the bride. The groom? Meh, he gets a cake and that's the only part that's his. And even if you don't agree with me about that, I think we can all agree that the wedding is never, ever, not in a million years about the bridesmaids. 

And if Lydia wanted to try on wedding dresses and be the center of attention, she should have had the god damned common sense to get married the traditional way instead of carting herself nine tenths of the way to Mexico to get married in a courthouse. 

She made her bed. Now she has to lie in it.

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