Over Valentine's Day weekend, my new husband and I traveled to St. Louis, Missouri. I had never been to Missouri before, ("Who would go there? It's a place called mis-er-y!" I can still hear my little sister say from many years ago), but it wasn't too bad: a broad, friendly place with snow on the ground.
We went for a wedding, our first as a married couple. At the reception, the bride and groom were toasted by the best man and the maid of honor. We've all been to weddings. We've all heard the usual offerings of meager prose and poorer poetry put forth when an honest "Best wishes" would have sufficed. But at this wedding, the maid of honor gave a startling and beautiful confession. To the best of my memory, here it is:
"I couldn't confess this to you earlier, my friend, but now that you are safely married, I can tell you this. In my capacity as maid of honor, it was my job to bring your dress with me from New York, where you had the fittings done, and where I live, down here to Missouri. On Thursday night, just before my flight, I had some pins in the dress for some last minute fixes. I pricked my finger. I didn't notice I was bleeding. But later, when I went to pack up the dress, I saw it: down the front, drops of red, like Jackson Pollock's later work. Horrified, I went online to try to find the best cleaners in New York. And on yelp.com I found the aptly named New York Cleaners. With three hours before my flight, I grabbed the dress, ran across town on the Subway, and with trembling hands turned it over to the Korean man behind the counter. He pressed the fabric down, examining the stains, and his brow furrowed. This worried me. 'Wait here,' he said, 'Let me see what I can do.' A while later, while I contemplated whether you would ever forgive me, the dry cleaner retured and held out the dress. It was perfect: without stain, wrinkle or blemish. 'How much do you think you owe me for this?' he asked, eyes merry and triumphant. 'I would gladly empty my bank accout,' I responded - though I'm a young professional in New York, and my offer would still not have been a large one. 'But,' I said, 'Tell me what you think is fair.' He cocked his head at me and looked me over in assessment. 'It's free,' he said at last, and he handed me your perfect, white wedding dress."
And that, dear readers, is gospel.
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