Someone shrieked in my ear. I shrieked back as she barreled into me and I toppled over into a puddle of lace and tulle. The dress I was clutching was ripped from my hands, my black velvet headband slipped down over my eyes, and momentarily blinded, I went fetal under a dress rack.
I groped for my walkie-talkie and leaned my head on it. “Carmen,” I moaned into it, “I’m going to kill you.”
“Red Leader, this is Gold Leader,” the walkie-talkie chirped. “Get that dress over here.”
“Would you guys knock it off with the Star Wars crap,” said Cate in the background.
Doors opened at 8 a.m. and it was on a Friday, so we figured we’d get there a couple hours early, duck in, grab dresses, duck out, go to work a little later. Because we’re morons. People in Bergen County are the supreme ninja master shoppers and we didn’t have the cash or the expertise to compete with them.
We slogged up Route 17 to the store at 6 a.m. with ruby-red eyes and Dunkin’ Donuts cups in hand, just to realize that what we should’ve done was slog in at 3:30 with the real shoppers because we were at the back of a mile-long line.
I’d never seen so many women in one place in my life. All ages, all shapes and sizes. All chattering and giggling and clutching their Coach bags to their sides, credit cards at the ready. All of them in front of us. All of them ready to strip the store bare before we even got in.
Cate was heading into full-out freakout mode as we joined the line. “I told you we should’ve camped out overnight. Look at all these people. We’re never getting in.”
“No, it’s a big place,” I said. “We’ll get in.” And no way in hell would I have camped out in a mall parking lot. I was barely seeing Max as it was; the least I could do was sleep in the same bed as him.
I opted for a distraction technique. “OK, Cate, what kind of dress are we looking for again?” Because after watching her hate every other of the ten zillion dresses she’d tried on, I honestly had no clue.
She gave me an incredulous look. “Strapless. Traditional. What else would I want?”
“Poufy. Check,” I said.
“Well, not all of us like plain dresses,” she sniffed.
I sighed and remembered my dress, a halter top with beading around the neckline and the hem. It barely had a train at all. It was easy to move in, it fluttered around me as I walked, it made me feel like a 1940s movie star.
“You know why I wanted a simple dress, right?” I asked her. “No pee buddy.”
Cate looked blank. So did Carmen. “Huh?”
“That’s the problem with the poufy dresses – you can’t go to the bathroom by yourself. Someone needs to hold up the skirts.”
Cate didn’t bother commenting, choosing to stare ahead at the store windows.
Carmen turned to me, eyes wide. “Are we the pee buddies?”