It was a black dress covered in little pink flowers. I don't remember how it was cut or whether it had lace. What I do remember is that I was going to keep it forever. I was probably about 7 years old, and the dress was so pretty that I was going to someday give it to my daughter.
That's one of the reasons why, when Katie cried to wear the same dress for the third day in a row, I just shrugged my shoulders, smelled it and handed it over. At least she'd only slept in it the first night. The next night, she carefully put it on a hanger and hooked it to the top drawer of her dresser. That was another reason I said yes.
I've never seen her quite that careful with any of her other belongings.
Plus, I don't care whether she wears it to the seems -- it cost about 40 cents.
It was part of one of those thrift store finds that was a perfect costume for a float in the Grand Olde West Days parade. I was going for a "Little House on the Prairie" look. I think I actually got a Heidi-thing, which is OK. I mean, cute is cute right?
I just didn't imagine the cute would last so long. It went through the parade, over night and to the ranch the next day. I actually couldn't believe she wanted it at the ranch, but ...
When the rain fell and the temperature dropped she agreed to put on pants only on the condition that they went on under the dress.
She opted for pajamas the second night, but the dress went back on first thing in the morning.
I managed to get it from her long enough to toss it into the washing machine, but the very next day ...
The best thing about her desire to wear a dress is that her whole personality changes when she gets it on. Instead of saying "hi" she curtsies and says "pleased to meetcha."
She loves me a whole lot more when she's in that dress. More importantly -- and the reason why she gets to wear it as much as she wants -- it makes her feel beautiful.
"My brother will tell me 'you're pretty Katie bear,'" she told me on the third day.
"And, I will say him 'yes, I am.'"
She said it with no ego. She said it without that little-kid cockiness. She said it almost shyly, like a girl receiving her first compliment -- even though it did come from herself -- and knowing it to be true.
So there you go -- when did 40 cents ever buy so much?
Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.