Today I will do what is, perhaps, the most ridiculous ceremonial thing out of all the ridiculous ceremonial things I do (treat myself to a fancy hotel dirty martini every time I finish a script being a close second on the list).
I will go to the Bank of America and take out $40 from the ATM. I will have the bank teller break that $40 into a twenty and two tens. I will put one twenty and one ten of that forty dollars into the front fold of my wallet. And I will take that $30 to the Forever 21 at the 3rd Street Promenade where I will spend it, and not a penny more than it, on a dress to wear on my birthday – just as I have done every single year since I turned – wait for it – 21. I warned you it was ridiculous.
This whole birthday dress routine did not start out as an annual event. I actually didn’t even realize it was happening until roughly 24. That should prove just how often I’m in a Forever 21 buying a $29.99 dress.
It dawned on me somewhere around the empire waist white lace number (24th, Boat Basin Party, NYC). Before that there was a one shoulder black tank and navy green military-style capri pant (21, Leggett’s Bar and Grill, Manasquan, NJ) and something short, tight and red (22nd, Sway Club, NYC). This is pre Facebook’s photo capabilities (remember that??), so I can’t be entirely sure. There have since been two floral maxi dresses, one with big, pastel flowers (25th, Tortilla Joe’s, NYC), and one with tiny, earth tone flowers (28th, Malibu Wines, CA); a white, layered number with a cute racer back cut (26th, The Dove, NYC), and this pink, fringey situation somewhere in the mix (27th? no… 23rd? I’m missing a year…).
But once I realized I was ringing in each year of life in a one-wear frock from a place that middle school girls shop, I thought, awesome, I’ve got to see this one straight through to 29!
Anndd, here we are at 29. Time flies when you’re dressing like time isn’t flying…
I like the think my annual shopping treat is like a mini microcosm of my progression in life from 21-30. At first I did not have enough money to shop at stores where they sell clothes made of real fabric. Then I had slightly more money, but I wanted to save it for things other than trendy party dresses. Now I have those things I saved for and a bit more money in the bank, but I’m totally conditioned to gawk at $100 price tags (or $31.00 price tags). I like crazy, loud clothing, and my style changes from one year to the next. Ergo – F21 is my mecca.
I still have each and every one of my dirt-cheap birthday dresses rudely taking up space in the closet R and I now share. They’re supposed to self destruct after one wear, but they keep on keeping on, like little hanging metaphors of 20-something life.
This year I’m focused on a tea length mustard yellow skirt and sheer, white printed tank, and I know I’ll find it because there is nothing the Forever 21 doesn’t carry – nothing.
As for next year – we’ll see. Maybe I’ll up the ante to $40 and change the venue to Nordstrom Rack.
Or maybe I’ll just keep buying a $30 dress at a store intended for kids for the rest of my birthday celebrating life…