The Red Dress

Sandi Bloomberg

The notice in the Fire Island paper said: Clothing Drive for the needy of Bayshore. Bring your clean, used clothes to the Ocean Beach dock on Sat. June 12th between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm.

Jaimie packed all of her gently used jeans, shirts, bathing suits, and her one really nice dress, she kept in case of a very special Fire Island occasion, into three huge Hefty bags.

She had taken off about thirty pounds since last summer and had bought all new clothes for Fire Island. There was no way she was ever going to gain that weight back! Weight Watchers had taught her to get rid of the "big" clothes so that you would never have to wear them again.

She put the bags on her Wisconsin wagon, and wheeled them from her share-house in Ocean Bay Park that she had rented for the 3rd summer, to the Ocean Beach dock. It was a little difficult parting with some of her favorite Fire Island clothes, but this was for a good cause, and hopefully, she would never be a size 16 again. With her new svelte body, she could now fit into more youthful and sexier clothes – maybe even meet the man of her dreams with her slim figure and the confidence she now had in herself.

Jaimie left the bags sitting on the dock next to all the other vessels of used clothing. The only thing she would possibly miss never seeing again was the red dress her mother had bought for her to take out to the beach, just in case she met a " special someone." "Oh Mom," Jaimie exclaimed, " Even if I did meet someone, no one wears anything dressy on a date on Fire Island, especially in Ocean Bay Park!" Jaimie knew better than to argue with her mother, so she took the chiffon, off-the- shoulder crimson red dress. It still had the tags on it when she put it into the Hefty bag. She kind of liked looking at it hanging in her closet, waiting for her Prince Charming to scoop her up wearing it as they rode into the sunset. That wasn’t happening! Maybe someone else would get lucky with the dress. She would never know.

The summer passed. Jaimie had a few dates, but no one she wanted to bring home to her mother. Her job in Manhattan was boring, her apartment getting to be a chore to get to with a five floor walk-up. Soho was great, but at 37 years old, the steps were starting to get to her. She had been in the same apartment since she graduated from NYU.

Jaimie was ready for a major change, but how, and when?

In March, during a mild snow storm, Jaimie traveled by the LIRR to Huntington, to stay with her mother for the week-end. On Sunday, they had to attend a small wedding in Bayshore. Jaimie’s cousin Samantha was getting married to the boy she had been engaged to for three years. They lived in Bayshore above a grocery store and couldn’t afford a wedding until now. Jimmy had finally gotten a full time job at a furniture store in town, and together with the money Samantha saved from her job at the supermarket, they could at last plan a small wedding with a little left over for a honeymoon in Florida.

Samantha was a teen-ager, the last time Jaimie and her mom had seen her. It was at the funeral of Samantha's mother, who died when Jaimie was 18. Her dad, an alcoholic, left the family when Samantha was only three. After graduating Bayshore High School, she moved to California, then Atlanta, then back to New York, where she met Jimmy and moved in with him.

With so few family members invited to the wedding, Jaimie and her mom felt an obligation to go.

Jimmy and Samantha were getting married in a church on Main Street in Bayshore, then having the reception at Captain Bill’s, a popular seafood restaurant on the water. Great! Jaimie didn’t have to buy a new dressy dress. She had a black tailored suit that would be just fine.

She and her mom drove to Bayshore in a light snowfall. At least it wasn’t the blizzard conditions of yesterday. There weren’t too many cars in the parking lot, and by the time they parked, the snow had stopped falling. It was a bit slippery, so Jaimie had to hold her mother as they walked up the steps to the church.

The pews were practically empty, with the exception of a few of the couple’s friends. There were only two or three relatives from Samantha’s side, and only Jimmie’s parents and two younger brothers. Maybe about fifteen people in all.

Samantha was very happy to see Jaimie and her mother there, the only family members she felt any closeness to.

The reception at the restaurant would have been a lot nicer in the spring or summer. Looking out on the great south bay in mid March on a snowy day, was a bit bleak, to say the least.

After the bride and groom cut the wedding cake, they went to change out of wedding gown and tuxedo for their trip to Miami and a week-long honeymoon at a South Beach hotel.

While waiting to see the newly-weds off, Jaimie was approached by a young man, who was Jimmie’s boss at the furniture store. He was tall, well built, very nicely dressed in a navy pin-striped suit, and had black hair and bright blue eyes. He was drop-dead gorgeous! His father had retired and left the very successful business to his son. His name was Tod. He was 38 years old, never married, and had a great sense of humor. He and Jaimie hit it off immediately, and made a date for the following Saturday night in the city.

Jaimie’s mom was very pleased. At last, her daughter had met someone who just might turn out to be the "man of her dreams." "It’s a good thing we came to the wedding," she said as she patted her daughter’s hand.

The bride and groom suddenly appeared all dressed in their "honeymoon" clothes, beaming from ear to ear. Jaimie took one look at them and almost fainted!

There was her cousin Samantha dressed in the "special" red dress that Jaimie had donated to the poor people of Bayshore. It was definitely the same dress. She just knew it! Jaimie had no idea when she put the dress in the give-a-way bag that her cousin in Bayshore would end up with it on her wedding day, married to the man of her dreams and providing the circumstance for Jaimie to meet a special someone, who could possibly turn out to be the man of her dreams.

The magical dress had traveled full circle, and stayed in the family after all. Sometimes "mother knows best." She had bought the red dress for a special occasion, and this was surely it!

As Jaimie waved good-by to the happy couple as they left the church, she said to herself, "life plays funny tricks sometimes. You never know…"