Once upon a time, several moons ago, my godmother was the head accountant for a fashion label known as Marcs. From time to time, she brought me clothing from the designer's studio or the cutting room floor, in black cardboard bags wrapped in fuchsia paper. I'd try on the clothes and she'd relay my opinions to Mark Keighery, the CEO. If I liked what she brought, I was allowed to keep it.
One day, she brought me a Dress. The Dress is black. The Dress is tight. It is made of 75% Lycra and 25% cotton in a vertically-ribbed weave. It slinks onto the body like water. My father forbade me from wearing it in public. That's what kind of dress it is.
Several weeks passed before I had a chance to wear the Dress. My significant other surprised me with tickets to the theatre, and I met him in the city, in the dress. I wore it with a gold organdy shawl and black high heels embroidered with gold Chinese dragons. He whistled lowly, and I smiled. I was walking on air.
With my hand upon his arm, we walked to the theatre. People stared, and I didn't care. The sunlight was in my hair and the sky was in his eyes and the day was beautiful.
A wolf whistle broke the spell. When I turned my head, I saw a young man in a tricked-up Datsun leaning out of his car, slowly watching me walk. I stopped, thinking he would drive on. But he didn't: he just kept staring, and let the car roll.
He let the car roll into a Volvo that was stopped at the traffic lights, which gently careened into a parked car.
The ashen-faced young man climbed out of his Datsun, and assessed the damage. The headlights were smashed and the hood had crumpled like a paper cup. The Volvo suffered minor cuts and bruises, and the parked car was scratched from top to tail.
Seeing that no one was injured, we didn't wait around for the police. I told myself that it was altruistic to leave: since the accident was clearly the Datsun driver's fault, he could say he was distracted and avoid explaining why. To tell the truth, I was mildly paranoid of being charged as an accessory to property damage. You try waiting for bail in a cell full of jailbirds, wearing a dress that just caused a car accident.
Insurance premiums aren't what they used to be. These days, I tell the story more than I wear the dress. But sometimes in summer, when the sunlight is in my hair . . .