Yes, that’s right. I went prom dress shopping last week.
The last time I went prom dress shopping, I was 18. Let’s just say a handful of years have passed by since then, and leave it at that, shall we?
My daughter and I made a date to go into the city last Wednesday, during her March Break. We took the GO train (our local commuter train system), which was rather a bit of an adventure in itself.
First, there was the issue of parking. We were cutting it close to the wire (the trains leave once an hour, so it was basically do-or-die time, parking-wise), and I do believe we snagged the absolute last available spot. It happened to be at the far end of the secondary lot across the street, but still, we cheered as I pulled into the spot. And then we ran. Or at least, Hayley did. Mine was more of a fast jog/walk thing.
Then when the train pulled into Union Station, which was our stop, for some strange reason we were all let off on the platform next to the VIA train. This platform, it turns out, is particularly unusual, because it appears to be serviced only by one elevator.
Picture this: about 100 people (or so it seemed, anyway) milling around on a train platform, looking for stairs and seeing only one rather small elevator.
Luckily, after a while someone realized what had happened, and they opened up the doors to the train we’d just gotten off, and got everyone to get back on and exit out the doors on the other side. To the platform with stairs.
It was actually a kind of fun, Twilight Zone moment during which I kept saying to Hayley, “You know, I really don’t think there are any stairs on this platform. No sirree. No stairs. I really don’t think so. Nope. No stairs as far as I can see.”
I had thought Hayley wanted to shop at Eaton Centre, the big shopping mall in the heart of downtown Toronto. And we did go there (after getting lost for a bit in PATH, the underground pedestrian system, which I once knew like the back of my hand. Now? Not so much.) But Hayley took one look inside, realized all the stores were exactly like all the stores in the mall at home, and back out we came.
(Because, as I remember well from the last time I went prom dress shopping, you don’t want to be wearing something that looks too similar to what everyone else is wearing. At least, I didn’t, and Hayley definitely takes after me that way.)
So we ended up on Queen St. West, where there are all sorts of really cute boutique dress stores, and lots of different restaurants. Not to mention, The Condom Shack.
Want to know something funny? Every shop we went into (but no, not the Condom Shack …), we found teenage girls shopping … with their mothers!
I have this theory: “Just call me the walking credit card.” There were a lot of us walking credit cards crowded into those little dress shops that day. I’d be standing outside one of the dressing room doors, waiting for Hayley, and I’d look in the mirror and see five other mothers lined up behind me, standing outside their daughters’ dressing room doors.
Actually, it turned out Hayley had no real intentions of buying a prom dress that day; she just wanted to go looking with me. She was going into the city again with friends on the Friday, and she figured she’d probably buy her dress then.
So once I learned this, the day turned into fun mother-daughter day! Which was very nice indeed (not that I minded prom dress shopping day, it’s just that fun mother-daughter days are really just about the best things invented.)
We squeezed in a nice leisurely early dinner at a Japanese restaurant in between trying on dresses; it was one of those order-off-the-menu, all-you-can-eat-but-if-you-leave-too-much-expensive-sushi-fish-on-your-plate-we-will-charge-you places. We ate too much, naturally, and stumbled back out onto Queen Street some time later. By then the gray, it’s going to rain weather had turned into really gorgeous sunshine, something we’d not had for a few weeks here.
(Toronto gets very cold in the winter, but I’ll say this about its weather – we get quite a lot of sun despite the cold. Just not so much in the recent weeks leading up to March Break.)
Hayley tried on a ton of dresses, but didn’t find any she liked enough to buy. Then I walked into a store, and saw a summer dress that basically shouted “This dress belongs to Belle Wong”.
You know the end of that story, right?
So yes, I was the one who came home with a dress. Hayley got some deodorant from the drug store, so she can’t say I didn’t buy her anything.
We walked back to Union Station and caught the 9 o’clock train. When we got off the train, the parking lot was a lot emptier and the car looked a lot farther away than I remembered (and irrationally, I thought to myself, why did I park so far away?).
Oh! And I even have a punch line to this prom dress shopping tale. I woke up the next morning – with shin splints! We did a lot of walking that day (and if you’ve never gone walking with a very fit, teenage girl, you just won’t understand). Yes, you may laugh. My husband did.