May 12, 2009

Wardrobe Malfunction

I was a brand new elder. At 36, I may well have been one of the youngest ever. I made history by being the first elder to ask for—and get—child care for my one-year-old daughter. It was going to be interesting and exciting to be a part of the governing body of this big church.

Before the year started, we were invited to our senior pastor’s home for a get-together, just to meet and greet and get to know each other. There were about fifty elders —far too many, but we’ve streamlined since then. 

I went home from work to change into a nice new dress I’d just picked up from the cleaner. The dress was very dark navy with a barely-visible paisley pattern, belted at the waist, sweeping skirt to mid-calf, very smart with navy pumps. I felt great as I left for the party.

It was okay as parties go. I’m an introvert, but I knew a few of the elders, the majority of whom were businessmen. I wandered from room to room for a couple of hours, smiling and chatting. While I really didn’t get to know anyone new very well, I thought it was time well spent.

I came home ready to relax. As I stepped in the front entry, I took off my coat. Abe was in the living room. He asked, “Were you at the elders’ party?”

He knew that’s where I’d been. Why did he ask? “Yes...”

“Did you wear that dress?”

Well, duh. I raised my eyebrows and stared. “Yes…”

“Did you know it’s unbuttoned?”

“What?” I looked down. The buttons from the neck to the waist were just fine. “Very funny—”

“Look in back.”

In back? There were buttons in the back? I craned my neck to see and then turned to look back into the hall mirror.

Oh my. Apparently there were buttons in the back, from the waist to the hem. The dry cleaner had unbuttoned every single one of them to facilitate ironing. And failed to button them back.

My mind raced back over events of the past two hours: sweeping through the rooms filled with men, bending over to get snacks or drinks, no doubt exposing a large inverted V of my white satin slip. For two hours. Not one person said a word.

A few weeks later, I had a big presentation to give to the elders. I opened with that story to illustrate how missing information may be crucial. (Always start a speech with a story.) And I told them that the next time they see that to take the person aside and tell her. Jeez. They were rolling with laughter.

The presentation went well.


Java said...

Argh! I'm embarrassed for you! Good story, though. :)

the hobbit said...

Oh, I love it! Way to make it work for you.

Ur-spo said...

I wish you good luck. Being the new kid on the block is particularly tough. I hope it works out well in the group and you grow with wisdom.
You can be, what in known in Jungian psychology as the Crone. a female wise sage

Roxrocks said...

Better a slip slip than a nip slip! LOL!

Birdie said...

Ur-spo, this happened about twenty years ago. It is seared in my brain, so I remember it well. As for being a Crone, I'm getting closer every day. I can't wait to be an Old Bat so I can get away with anything and blame it on old age.

tornwordo said...

LOL, that reminds me of the time I went out with the boss to breakfast in the hotel we were at with globs of bloody toilet paper on my face. Didn't mention a thing and then when I confronted her later she said, "I thought you wanted it that way." No. Nobody wants to walk around with bloody bits of tissue on their face nor with unbuttoned dresses.

Jeaux said...

I'm amazed that nobody said anything - now THAT'S an accepting church!

bigislandjeepguy said...

LOVE this story. want more!

Laurie said...

Your story had me giggling like crazy. Thank you so much...

Patrick said...

What a graceful, funny way to use a potentially embarrassing situation. It would have tormented you so much more if you'd tried to pretend it never happened. Good lesson for me here.

David said...

Brilliant to make that potential long-term embarrassment work for you instead. That's smart thinking.

I always try to subtly let folks know when they have something amiss on their person and hope others do the same for me.

Bill said...

What a splendid story!
I just caught up on Steven's blog and read about his dad, so I appreciate the funny story you shared.
I love how when we start thinking we're "all that," God has his humorous ways of cutting us down to size.
Years ago, I recall seeing a woman come out of the restroom into the lobby of a nice restaurant. She was in a smart business suit, had perfectly coiffed hair, and strutted as though she knew every eye was upon her...and they were, because she was trailing a yard-long strip of toilet paper from her expensive high heel shoe.

Greg said...

I love how you turned the potential embarrassment into a teaching moment. Thanks for the reminder about making the most of what you get!

: )