Something big happened this week. I met a goal! I’m a good one for setting goals, but never actually seeing them come to fruition. Open any one of my kitchen drawers, and a list of plans is likely to surface. Flip through one of the 50 spiral notebooks lying about the house, and you will find pages of handwritten good intentions. And don’t even start on the stacks of carefully-filled-out lesson planners that went basically untouched throughout our home school years.
And yet, this week, I met a goal.
Last year, due to hubby’s work, we happened to be in Germany for Oktoberfest. We heartily joined in the celebrations, hubby wearing his lederhosen and I in jeans and T-shirt. When we went shopping for authentic Bavarian clothing, I thought it might be difficult to find leather knee breeches to fit a 6’4” 285 pound man, but in Germany that’s not an uncommon size. However, trying to find a traditional dirndl dress in size 16 for myself was quite another story.
European clothing is sized differently, and I soon made the horrifying discovery that I would need a 46! Beautiful women of all ages were traipsing in and out of the dressing room, modeling their finds for their husbands and boyfriends. Twice, eyeballs popped out of the men’s heads and I had to roll them back under the dressing room door. I think every German woman must be born with a tiny waist and perfectly proportioned bust line. Their brightly-colored dirndls were short and flirty. The built-in corsets were pulled tight, and the special push-up bras gave them “enchanting decolletes” just like the package promised. And none of them were size 46.
When nearly everyone had left the area, I stepped into the only dress I could find in my size. It was long and matronly, with a brown background, white Ric Rac trim, red buttons, and a green plaid apron. I reminded myself of a gingerbread man.
Due to my extremely thick middle, my décolletage was non-existent. No push-up bra has ever been created that could have pulled them out of the dark cavernous bodice of that dress, and I’d left my duct tape at home. I’d decided to put my jeans back on and forget the whole ordeal, when I heard hubby softly calling through the curtain, “Are you going to come out so I can see?”
Humiliation began creeping up my spine. In our 23-year relationship, he has never made me feel anything less than beautiful. It was shallow and silly, but I began to cry. “I can’t come out like this.”
“Please,” he asked again. “I’d really like to see it.”
I wiped my eyes, and slowly opened the curtain.
“It’s not so bad.” He was being kind. I couldn’t help but think that this man who wears international clothing on a regular basis looks better in his Scottish kilt, or the Fijian skirts that make him look like his Aunt Enola, than I did in a Bavarian dirndl.
And so, my goal was born. I knew there was a good chance that his work would have us back in Germany a year later, and I was determined that I would be able to march out of that dressing room with my head held high.
Over the past year, I have changed my eating habits, started working out, and opted to have a tummy tuck. The tuck took away the lower flab, but I had to work on the mid-section or there was no way I would fit into one of those dresses.
I arrived in Berlin on Friday. Saturday morning I kicked jet lag in the head, and went straight to the department store. Cautiously optimistic, I pulled all the size 44s and 42s from the racks and left the 46s hanging.
First, I decided to try on the one that hubby had picked out as his favorite last year. It was the smaller size, so I figured I was setting myself up for disappointment. I pulled the zipper up with ease, pushed my bust into the bra, and tightened the corset. I flung open the curtain, and hubby’s eyes popped out of his head.
This time it was shallow joy that caused the tears to spill down my cheeks. It felt good to reach a goal, and not spend another year wallowing in the misery of my own lack of diligence. When I get home, I’m going to get started on those lists in my kitchen drawer.
Ginger is an author, speaker and mother of five. Her column appears weekly across the Midwest.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.