"Norm, can you stop by sometime today?" I had to stop and think. Who was calling? The voice was strained and obviously upset, almost sobbing. Beth, its Beth. In less than two weeks I was committed to 'escort' Beth to her daughter's wedding.
"Sure, ... I'll be there about three this afternoon."
My 'escort' duty had been setup for me by my deceased wife, Dot, when she was helping Beth plan the wedding. Unless Beth had a 'man' in her life by the time the wedding came around, Dot had volunteered me, her new husband, to accompany Beth. Unknown to either Beth or me, Dot at the time, knew she was dying of pancreatic cancer. Beth was Dot's best friend. I had first met Beth at our party to announce our elopement to Sonoma to be married without too much fuss. In Dot's last weeks and helping me take care of her personal affairs, Beth had been a true friend.
Beth and I moved in different circles so we hadn't seen much of each other since winding up Dot's affairs until a couple of weeks ago when I phoned Beth to check on my 'escort' status.
When Beth opened her door to me I could see immediately that she was very upset. Her eyes were red and puffy. She'd been crying. On the doorstep she put her arms around my neck and with her cheek against my chest said, "Thanks for coming. I didn't know who else to turn to. Come in and look at this mess." What the hell was she talking about?
On her dining room table was an open UPS box with tissue and a tomato red garment dumped on the box. "Look at this! Tell me what you think."
"What is it?" I asked.
"Supposed to be my 'Mother-of-the-Bride' outfit! Supposed to be a Vera Wang! Supposed to make me look glamorous! Supposed to make me feel good about myself! Norm, what am I going to do? The money I've spent. There's no time." Beth burst out crying, grabbed a pile of used tissues on the server, turned away and blew her nose, loudly.
Let me explain, for Beth to call me was not off the wall. She knew that all my business life has been in the garment industry, one way or another, retail, manufacturing, cleaning, etc. I picked up one of the two garments, a skirt. There was a 'Vera Wang' label, but no care label. Well, apart from the appalling color, the workmanship looked like a Girl Scout merit badge project, with unbound seams, uneven stitching, puckered lining, etc., not a designer house creation,. The jacket was no better; in fact, I guessed it would hang unevenly.
"Have you tried it on?"
"No." She spat as she turned back to me.
"Well my dear," I started, "you're right, it is a mess." I thought for a moment, "Did you pay 'Vera Wang' prices for this?"
"I sure did, you want to see my VISA bill?"
"Not necessary. First, we pack this up, call UPS, and return it. You'll have to call, ...who ... here it is, Bridal Experience. Tell them you are returning the outfit as unsatisfactory and demand a refund. I'll take care of notifying Federal Trade and Vera Wang about the knock-off."
"But what am I to wear? There's nothing in this town. I tried before."
"Secondly, we go shopping and find you a gorgeous ensemble that will make you feel like a million bucks. That's if you would like my help?"
Beth smiled, for the first time since I arrived. "Would you? I've already called Bev and Jerry, but they can't get away, and I don't want to bother Mel so close to her wedding, she's got enough to worry about, and the boys would dress me in a Steelers' jersey. Dot would've helped. I miss her." She ended quietly.
After a moment I said, "Tomorrow morning at eight I'll pick you up and we'll head for Tyson Corners. That'll be the best selection around here." I then offered to come back and take her to dinner but she declined, saying she was too upset to eat or be worthwhile company. I headed for the door.
Beth started to open the door, but then stepped towards me, put her arms around my neck again and kissed my cheek. "You are such a lovely man to help me like this. I feel better already. I know it, ... don't say it, I'm going to owe you." She leant against me and lingered a little as she kissed my cheek, again. I'm a guy, old maybe, but I do clearly remember Beth's breasts pressed against my chest.
As I stepped out I turned and reminded Beth, "You're trying things on tomorrow. Dress so you can get in and out of your clothes easily and wear or bring the height of shoes you will wear to the wedding."
"You're going to lecture me on retail therapy?" She laughted.
Our trip down was pleasant. We talked of everything; her kids, the wedding, politics, Dot's business that I was running and still trying to sell, mutual acquaintances, and so on. Beth had phoned Vera Wang and found that 'her' suit had sold out before the start of last season. Special order would take a month or so – and be expensive. Beth was 'up' now that we were working on solving her problem.
As we got closer I steered the conversation toward focusing on what she wanted. Beth had spent a lot of time shopping for her outfit the first time around. She didn't want to look like a 'grand dame' or a young 'floozy'. She was proud of her figure and wanted to take advantage of it without flaunting her curves. She wanted people at the wedding to 'know who she was' without detracting attention from Mel, the bride. All in all she had ended up being most comfortable in a smart 'tailored' suit, with 'maybe just a little cleavage showing'.
I must admit, I was impressed with how well Beth seemed to understand herself and the situation. But I said, "Always a good thing, a 'little cleavage'."
"You men, only one thing on your minds."
There was always black, but Beth said it was a wedding to celebrate. She wanted color and was inclined toward strong primary colors like red and blue. They did suit her complexion.
I had done some research and we were working systematically through a list of stores and boutiques. Early on it became apparent that we were waging a loosing battle. The current fashion didn't include primary colors. The mavens had decreed mauves and fawns, etc. this season. The other problem was the 'mother-of-the-bride' label. Beth had been right, 'grand dame' or 'floozy' was where almost every sales-woman wanted to go. Very little age or style appropriate was offered. Basically I limited myself to being an encouraging companion, director from store to store, and offering noncommittal comments and a few "NO's" about most of what Beth came out to show me. It was discouraging, but we kept going.
About four p.m. we entered a very up scale department store. The very nice mature sales lady explained that we wouldn't find anything in her department and suggested that we go up to the designed department on the fifth flour.
"But I can't afford a designer label." Beth said.
"Oh, Dear, don't worry. They have pieces for thousands of dollars, but they also carry a large range of quality merchandise aimed at a more selective clientele than I get here off the street, so to speak. Just tell Louise or Missy that Marie, that's me, sent you up."
When we stepped off the elevator on fifth, Louise was there to greet us and ushered us to a quiet and almost concealed corned of the floor. First impression; there was some beautiful dresses – gowns here. We were in a different world. Beth turned and beamed at me. She came alive. If she were a hound, you've said she was on point. Beth was too excited and flustered to explain her needs. Marie had already clued Louise in to what Beth was after and I filled in a little with what we had seen and our problems with it.
Louise asked, "How long do you have to find something?"
"The wedding is Saturday next week." Beth replied.
"No Dear, how long do you have to shop with us?"
"We're from out of town so we'd like to find something today." I put in.
"Shop til we drop." Beth added.
Louise explained that she liked to show a range of styles and then focus on finding the special outfit once the style was settled on. If we had the time, she would proceed that way. We assented.
Louise indicated a pair of wing chairs, "You two take a seat while I get set up. You're a size four or six, Dear?"
"Mostly six these days."
Moments later Louise rolled a mahogany cart beside my chair, "Help yourself. Beth, we don't want you with a drink, right now. Spills, you know." I poured Australian shiraz from the selection of wines and whiskeys. Up until now I had been playing the 'poor pathetic husband' routine, standing on one leg leaning against a clothes rack or occasionally finding a chair to wait for Beth to appear to show the few outfits she would even consider of the many she tried on. Maybe we would get lucky here.
With a 'kid in a candy store' grin, Beth leant over to me, "I couldn't have done this without you. I've wrecked my car going home hours ago. Give me a sip." There was a new closeness between us.
Louise came by with a rolling rack with about twenty gowns hanging, "Time to go to work, Beth." Beth jumped up and followed. She turned and blew me a kiss, then disappeared into the fitting room.
After about twenty minutes Louise came out, "This gown is not suitable for the type of wedding you're planning, but Beth wanted you to see it on her." Louise held back the velvet curtain and out strode a new Beth. There was an air of confidence and joy in her stride. Her eyes sparkled and her look to me was both coy and flirtatious. The gown was a simple pale pink satin strapless number that looked like it was made 'on' Beth. The line flowed from her bust, to her waist, to her hips and on to the floor. Her bust line was neither squished nor emphasized. Her waist was a smooth concave curve. Her hips were draped. I sucked in my breath. My god, Beth was beautiful. Before I could say a thing Louise said, "See, I told you he would love it. You do that gown justice."
Beth said to me, "By the look of what Louise has pulled off the rack we will be here for a while, are you up to it?"
"If you treat me to a vision of beauty like this every once in a while, I'm yours til they close up on us." I replied and smiled at both Beth and Louise.
Obviously pleased with themselves, the two women smiled conspiratorially at each other and disappeared. I noted a couple of people who had stopped to watch and admire the show drift on.
Not five minutes later they were back. This time Beth was the flirt. Nothing coy. "She would wear high strap sandals and a deeper plunge bra with this cocktail dress." Announced Louise. Beth flounced and pirouetted.
"Woee! The poor bride wouldn't stand a chance." Photographers talk about people who love the camera. When photographed a greater essence appears in those people. Beth was like that with beautiful clothes. She glowed and came alive in an additional dimension. This was a black halter top dress, with a deep neckline (Beth's black bra did show.) and a low waist and a skirt with layers and layers of ruffles, and very short. "Great legs!" And they were.
"They are sleek legs. Beth is a beautiful woman." Beth turn to reenter the fitting room with Louise following, when Louise took her arm and turned back to me, "Rather than us parading out here to you and anyone else who wants to look, why don't you refill your glass and come on in. You might see something we pass by."
I was flabbergasted and speechless. Beth's eyes grew wide. She stared at Louise and then me questioningly. "Is that alright? For him to come into the fitting room."
Louise smiled knowingly at Beth, "Oh, yes Dear."
Beth looked, almost blankly, to me. I was about to decline when I noted a bit of a twinkle in Beth's eye. I kind of shrugged, as if to say, "It's up to you."
"Yes, Norm, why don't you come in and help me decide." The smile on Beth's face was beatific but the husk in her voice anything but innocent. Louise just smiled at me.
I took my wine and followed them in to the fitting room. Some room. Large. White and gold. Deep carpet. Mirrors. Racks and hocks. Louise pointed me to a very comfortable club chair. "Feel free to comment or ask questions. We'll just go on about the business of finding Beth's perfect outfit." I felt awkward and embarrassed. Do I pretend not to notice a delicious woman undressing? Do I ogle? Do I comment on everything or hold my piece? Now there's another issue. My wife has been dead nine months and I have not been ... 'active'. What is my 'piece' going to think about these goings-on? I grunted an uncomfortable acknowledgement to Louise and tried to smile at Beth, but fortunately she didn't look my way. Maybe she was having second thoughts and wished she'd not taken Louise up on her offer. I started to think of graceful, face saving ways of getting out of this situation. I also started to think I might enjoy this 'situation'. What's the harm?
The women walked toward the rack that Louise had gathered. Beth stopped, kicked her shoes off and Louise unzipped the back of the black dress. My, it was short. I hadn't noticed before but Beth's bra could be seen across her back above the top of the dress. Louise then unhooked the clasp at Beth's neck. Holding the two straps of the halter top, Louise lowered it down off Beth who needed to wiggle her bum a little to let the dress down so she could step out of it. Louise took the dress to hang on the rack.
And there was Beth standing with her back to me in a black bra and sheer pantyhose. No panties. To look or look away? To appreciate the beauty, almost naked, or imagine it? It was her idea, after all, so I looked. Nice shape; shoulders, waist, hips and legs. Ah, those legs. The women were talking about the items on the rack. Beth stepped over to it. A profile view, only fleeting, of a breast. Substantial, more than I've thought. Then a reached out arm interrupted my view. Delight and frustration.
A long skirt of some shinny stiff material was selected. I was fascinated to see Louise, lifted the skirt above Beth's head and Beth, with arms stretched above her, put the skirt on over her head. Still, back to me. Only a glimpse of boob as she bent to adjust the waist band. Apparently, there were options for the top. A sequined tube type top was pulled on over Beth's bra. Beth stepped on to a riser before horseshoe shaped mirrors. Beth looked at herself and, in the mirror, glanced my direction. She looked a little sheepish. I smiled encouragingly and shook my head. That outfit was not her. She quickly tried on two different shaped jackets that could be worn with or without the tube top.
After undressing again Beth turned to me, in only her bra and hose, "See what women have to go through to please you men." As if realizing her state, she put her arm across her breasts and turned to Louise and the rack of clothes. My gaze lingered a few extra second upon her pubic hair clearly viewed through her sheer hose. The earth mother; narrow waist, rounded hips, narrowing legs all centered upon a 'Y' highlighted by her chestnut thatch. I needed a sip of wine. I wish I had thought quickly enough to say, "Take all the time you like."
Next came a tight short black strapless dress. It was a four and a bit too tight all over. But it was very nice and suited Beth. I asked about a size six. Louise consulted a computer and found a six in red at one of their stored. Louise offered Beth the bolero jacket. "Before I put that on I want to take off this bra." It did distract from the effect of the dress. Beth turned her back to me, Louise unzipped the dress and pushed the top forward, unhooked Beth's bra and Beth took it off and threw it onto the clothes rack. With Louise running interference I saw little. The jacket, with its frilled edge, added a demure interest to the outfit. The tight fit forced some bulging of Beth's breasts above. Beth made a game of trying to push them down into the dress. To me she said, "I suppose you like me bulging out all over?"
I calmly replied, "I think the six would be just right."
This undressing I was waiting for. As before, with their backs to me, Louise unzipped the back of the dress and helped Beth squirm and then stepped out of it. Louise went to hang the dress. Beth with some, but no serious effort to cover her tits with her arm said to me, "You liked that – in the bigger size – didn't you?" Trying not to be too obvious about my ogling, I told her I thought it was a very smart, sophisticated outfit that allowed her to be conservative for church and with the top off a bit showy for dancing. We asked about the red. By now, Beth had backed to the rail and was reaching for her bra, still with one arm loosely across her chest and no apparent thought of her clearly visible bush. I've got to tell you, my 'piece' was starting to work its way through my bush.
"Don't worry with that yet, we've got another strapless one next." Louise said pointing to Beth's bra.
I asked if Louise knew what the red of the last dress was like. She pointed to a long flared dress hanging on the wall behind me. "That's by the same house and I think the same fabric." Beth started toward it, hesitated, looked at me, smiled uncertainly and continued on to look at the red dress. I turned in my chair to follow. Beth reached out to hand the cloth, This gave me a view of the side of her breast - a full size 'C' with dark nipple standing well out.
Beth had been right, she had a great figure. Her breasts, with a slight sag, were full and firm, her stomach only slightly bulged and her hips beautifully round and tapered. For a fifty plus year old, Beth was a beauty. I needed a sip of wine.
Beth turned toward me, made no effort to cover up, and told me, "I like that color, I think it suits me, do you?" Before I could answer, she turned and walked back to Louise. Beth had stood essentially naked before me for a full minute. Louise looked passed Beth to me to see how I was reacting to Beth's show? We shared a conspiratorial smile.
"Yes, I think you would look smart, fun and sexy in it." We put the red six on a 'short' list.
Louise explained the next dress was the same top and bolero as the last dress but had a filmy ballerina length skirt puffing out from the waist. In dressing Beth she maneuvered her to be more or less facing me. I had a wonderful view of Beth reaching up to have the dress pulled down over her head. Her breasts and nipples were pulled taunt. Her peachy complexion contrasted excitingly with her dark nipples. I needed a sip of wine. I subtly toasted Louise. This was a size six and fitted perfectly. Showing, but not emphasizing Beth's boobs and hips. It had a playful effect on Beth. She danced and swirled about the room. I enjoyed the sensualness of her joy.
I asked Louise if a slip was to be worn with the dress. No, that is how it is intended to be. "What are you talking about?" Beth asked.
"Don't get my wrong, I love it, but in certain lights, I see you pubic hair and the crack of your butt through the skirt." Beth jumped on the riser and checked herself in the mirrors. She had trouble getting the right angle to see her crack, but readily saw what I was talking about in front. Even from my seat I could see the shadow of her 'Y' and her tuft of hair in the mirror. She caught my eye in the mirror and holding the skirt tight across her hips vulgarly thrust her hips toward her reflection and leered at me.
"Too tarty. I think Mel is too uptight to have her mother on such display at her wedding. What would the in-laws say?" Beth turned to Louise. "What's next?"
This time Beth faced me as she undressed and smiled in a flirty sort of way, but quickly turned and reached for her bra.
The next dress was a soft jersey material made into long sheath with a deep scoop cowl neck and a slit almost to the hip on one side. It was a very slinky number and Beth looked fabulous. She spent a lot of time looking this way and that in the mirrors. Louise said, "Not many women could wear this and look as good as you do Beth." The dress clung to her every curve.