“Downy Ocean, hon” is about a three-hour drive from Baltimore. It was a tradition, and maybe still is, for many Marylanders. “Baltimorons” annually make the pilgrimage. That was not the case for my family. Although we liked going to the beach, we did not love Ocean City (apologies) since at the time, for us, it didn’t offer much to do. The exception was for the Maryland Trial Lawyers’ Association meeting. Often we would just go overnight. That meant maybe a change of car clothes, beach attire plus the outfits for Friday night’s banquet for the installation of officers.
In 1995, my husband, Gary, was to be installed as president of the Maryland Trial Lawyers’ Association was special and, of course, required an appropriate outfit. I went to a fancy store and bought a dignified, gray dress. I had gray shoes to match and “diamond” jewelry. In this case, he was the bride and I the groom for the event. It was his job to pack the car while I rounded up our kids and readied the house for our absence.
We were on our way shortly after noon, giving us plenty of time to get there and maybe chill before showtime: the meeting and greeting, accepting congratulations and good luck wishes, mingling, cocktails, etc. When we arrived, we realized the crisis: Gary had forgotten my dress and I was wearing a shmata (rag or house dress).
Of course I panicked. Ocean City is a beach resort, but not the Riviera. What would I find to wear there? I also didn’t have hours to search and the stopwatch was ticking.
We had to check in, and we thought the kids would be staying in the room. Thinking that, Gary and I ran out without the keys. When I remembered to go back to get my gray shoes, we discovered the kids had left. By then, the lobby was crowded and I couldn’t find a maid to let me in. When I did, I had to bore her to death with the long story to make sure she would let me in the room. She finally did, and I was able to get my shoes.
In the elevator I met Dan, the outgoing president, and told him what happened. In the parking lot, while Gary was waiting for me to get my shoes, he ran into his law partner, Howard.
After telling him what happened, Howard asked, “When did you realize the forgotten dress?”
Gary said, “Just now.”
“That was lucky! You could have had to listen to Ada b***h for two hours!”
We were in a store and I was trying on the only minimally possible dress. Gary was explaining our problem and asked, “Is there something else that’s better than what my wife brought to the dressing room or do you know of another store?”
A woman overheard Gary’s conversation and said, “ I can’t remember the name of the new store at the other end of town, but it might be a solution.”
Remember, this was 1995. iPhones didn’t come out until June, 2007 so finding this place was a quest. In addition, though my husband was brilliant, he could get lost in a phone booth. He was always the driver and I the navigator. In our favor, Ocean City was a town with one main drag. Tick, tick, tick, the clock continued, but we discovered it! I found a lovely, three-piece, cream colored ensemble. It fit perfectly and was even the right length (I am only 5’2”). Of course, I wanted my shoes to match. Luckily, the gods were smiling (it is a funny story). The store also sold shoes, including a pair that matched and they fit! Amazingly, I found a belt that coordinated with my jewelry.
We rushed back, dressed and were only a bit late. Dan (he was so thoughtful) had told people the tale of woe and asked them to compliment me no matter what I was wearing. This is not a boast, but considering the calamity and time crunch, I actually did look great. As others started to arrive and compliment me on how lovely I looked, those in the know laughed. The whole saga was told and retold many times. My favorite comment was: “What some women will do to get a new outfit!”
P.S. I loved the outfit and have worn it many times, always to a positive reaction and a laugh in response to the story.
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