Luigi Escaño must have changed cellphones. He did not answer my query whether his store had a sale on gowns. I needed three. Fuschia, coral, and burgundy.
I thought maybe I'd try what Joy Bernales had got off the rack, but I got to her shop too early for it to be already open. I headed right on to Victoria Plaza.
Seemed like I got there too early in the day for people to be out shopping. The ladies' formal wear section was deserted, save for the ever helpful salesclerks who wanted me to try on everything. You'd think that would have been easy, but when you're a size 4 and you need a ninang gown, it would take you forever. Those off the rack begin at size 10, I tell you.
I checked out the invites. One said formal at 3:00 p.m. The others did not say, but the time was late afternoon. I thought maybe I'd try the cocktail gowns instead.
Soon I had three very helpful salesclerks assisting me at the fitting room. Man, that had never happened to me before. Oh, okay, I've never gone leisurely shopping for this stuff before. I guess maybe these days I look like I could afford it. Must be the gray streaks in my hair. The novelty had me texting (MindaNews editor) Bob Timonera (in Iligan City): "I'm a girl and loving it!"
Fuschia, coral, burgundy. They're not on the color wheel, so Bob wouldn't know any of them from pink. Taking my cue from that, I considered a hot pink number with a flowing skirt and a tube top. It had microscopic burgundy beads and the lining was coral. One gown instead of three. Gee, and I got the shoulders for this thingy.
Okay, I'm buying now.
Actually, I committed to buy because I was feeling distinctly guilty from the princess treatment. The salesclerks were so helpful. But looking at my choice, I felt guilty some more because I didn't think my husband would like me to show off my shoulders anywhere without him. I felt guilty some more at the checkout counter. Even with twenty percent off, Harley Ruedas burned a hole in my wallet.
I don't have a credit card so I would register the tearing pain every time I part with my hard-earned money. It keeps me virtuous.
Surprisingly, carting my purchase home, I did not at all feel like self-flagellating. This time, I finally got to understand that Citibank Credit Card TV commercial that has a girl skipping out of the mall carting so many shopping bags. The hot pink number was – oh, there's no other word for it – it was smashing. It was its own excuse for being.
Bob gets the message: "I'm so girl!!! I spent!"
Bob consoles: "Sometimes, we need to splurge on gadgetry."
Right. I just hope my husband does not nail me to the cross.
He didn't. He was taking a nap when I got home. He cracked one eye open to see me try it on in front of the mirror.
"Honey, you look so pretty," he said. Then he went back to sleep.
Hey, if this be the kind of reception I get, maybe I should be doing this more often.
"You need new shoes," Sage judged.
Yeah, 3-inch heels at least. Not on my budget, though. I texted that to Bob.
Sagely, he texted me back something on the fettuccine principle. You got pasta, you'll need sauce. You put sauce, you'll need more pasta. And the beat goes on.
At dinner, Liane mentioned there was a 3-day sale at SM. I lasted till wash up time. Then I dragged hubby to SM. Thirty minutes before the mall closed, I found a last pair down seventy percent what it used to cost.
"Yeah, yeah," texted Bob, who refused to understand how finding that Figlia pair was an achievement worth crowing over.
Fettuccine principle. Gown. Gown and shoes. Gown and shoes and bag. Gown and shoes and bag and my mother-in-law's garnet set. Gown and shoes and bag, my mother-in-law's garnet set, and someone please do my nails. Do my hair. Makeup, too… in shades that Bob's color wheel would merrily throw off if it got a hard enough spin.
And finally the wedding.
I got to church early because I had to drop Liane to visit a friend two blocks down from the church. But first, I needed Liane's help to get me into my top. Liane bargains like a Palestine. She'd help only if I saved her a ride and if I let her try on my new heels. Bob heard about that again.
He turns solemnly reflective on that one, like he'd been to church or something. He texted me back how we should feel for OFWs who never get to experience times like that with their kids. He told me Kara, his brilliant teener, is the ultimate arbiter of what his wife is allowed to wear to public functions. Haha. Ever wondered why we mothers make sure we are our daughters' best friend?
So I was in church already when the other ninangs started arriving. Uh-oh, they were all in beige or ecru or camel. Not on Bob's color wheel, too.
I fretted over the prospect of standing out, which is probably a girl thing to do. Oh, well. What's done is done.
Then the flower girls arrived. Oh, good. They too were in pink, in a shade I'd call the first blush of youth. It looked like on that occasion, the participants were as old as the color of their dress.
Funny thing was, the other ninangs probably had the same thought. Trooping to our designated seats during the wedding march, they asked me to move next to the center aisle as, according to them, I should be assisting the bride. I did not understand, but I obliged just the same. Comprehension dawned on me when I heard their collective gasp as the matron of honor came into view, marching down the aisle to take her place beside me.
Hello, I smiled at my seatmates. I'm a ninang, too. Really. I just couldn't find a ninang uniform to fit me. You see, I took Bob and his color wheel out shopping, but they were no help in that department.
(Wayward and Fanciful is Gail Ilagan's column for MindaViews, the opinion section of MindaNews. Ilagan teaches Social Justice, Family Sociology, Theories of Socialization and Psychology at the Ateneo de Davao University where she is also the associate editor of Tambara. You may send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. "Send at the risk of a reply," she says.)