CeeCee was still throwing dresses and New Guy was opting out of interfering with CeeCee’s method of searching for the right dress for Elle. He chose the opportune time to speak to CeeCee when she was done with one store and going to the next one. He finally got this great idea, “CeeCee, instead of looking for the right dress in these department stores, why don’t we go to a vintage shop? Does she look like the type that likes vintage styles?”
CeeCee’s frustrated face softened as she thought about it. “Good idea, let’s go!” she said impressed and then excited.
They went to the nearest vintage dress shop and CeeCee saw a simple, baby blue satin dress that ended at the knees that she liked in the store window. They went into the store and CeeCee went to the cashier and demanded, “I want to try on that dress,” pointing to the satin dress. The cashier calmly went to the mannequin and gently removed the dress and handed it to CeeCee. She went to try it on and said, “This dress fits perfectly!” and stepped out of the changing stall to show New Guy.
“You look fantastic,” he said with a smile. “You can go to a fancy banquet and dress it up with a diamond necklace, earrings, bracelets, and barrette.”
She spun around and around, kept looking at how wonderful she looked. “This would look great on her, don’t you think?”
“I think it would look great on her,” he agreed, “but that dress won’t fit her.”
“You’re right, she’s about twice my size, and she’s a lot shorter.”
New Guy stepped closer to CeeCee, “She’s about this size,” using his hands and estimating Elle’s waist and hips about two inches wider than CeeCee’s, “and her chest is bigger,” he said, not daring to get near CeeCee’s chest.
She shot him a face that said, “You checked her out?”
“I’m a guy, I look,” he quickly replied.
CeeCee felt defeated.
“You look fantastic. Why don’t you buy that for yourself?”
She checked the price tag and said, “I can’t afford it.” She went back into the stall and removed the dress and handed it to the cashier. “Do you have anything in the size the guy described?” she asked the cashier.
“Sorry, we don’t. Every dress in here is about this size,” she said referring to the blue dress in her hand.
“Thanks for your help,” said CeeCee. To New Guy, “We should look around. Maybe I’ll get a clearer picture of the dress.”
“If you want,” he said.
Twenty minutes later, CeeCee said, “Done! Let’s go!” and they returned to the department stores.
“Can I ask what the goal of the dress you have in mind?” New Guy asked as they were riding the subway.
“I want it to look like she would actually wear it, so it has to be comfortable, stylish, simple, and practical. I also want guys to compliment her, you know, give her a taste of all her choices. It must also get us free drinks from guys.”
“Is that possible? When you choose a stylish dress, doesn’t that usually contradict comfort, simplicity, and practicality?”
“Got your smarty pants on again, huh?” CeeCee said, playfully snooty.
“I always have my smarty pants on,” he said smiling and feeling confident.
“What kind of fabric would provide comfort, simplicity, and practicality and also fit the nightclub scene? Something light and airy like satin or silk, but neither of those stretches. I want to get something that stretches, just in case the store’s size options are limited.”
“How about lace? It stretches and it’s light and airy.”
CeeCee bursted out laughing. “I’m not getting her a dress made entirely of lace! She wouldn’t wear it!”
A moment passed before he said, “You’re right, she wouldn’t wear it. She strikes me as a classy, elegant girl who doesn’t go to nightclubs. She’s the kind who would be at a banquet or gala with a long gown.”
CeeCee stopped laughing. “I’m not buying her a gown to go to a nightclub. I want her to stick out because she can get us free drinks, not because she looks like she’s not dressed for the place.” Something clicked in her head. “Are you imagining her in a gown right now?”
“No, of course not! How absurd! I don’t like her! I will jump out of this subway car window right now! I will!” New Guy said awkwardly and a bit loud, with a confused facial expression.
“Your voice and your face are lying,” she said with a winner’s hand.
“No they’re not!” he said, in the same awkward and loud voice with a confused face.
She gasped, “You must have thought about her in a lace dress earlier, huh,” she said like she discovered a dirty secret. With big eyes, she continued, “That’s why it took you so long to agree with me. That’s why you volunteered ‘lace.’ What color was she wearing? Black or red?”
“Nothing you’ve said is true,” he loudly lied again with his voice and face.
“Black or red,” she pressured. “Black or red? Black or red?” she demanded.
“Alright! Alright! Alright!” he truthfully yelled. They watched the onlookers who were staring at them, then they returned to their situation. “Red, red, red,” he quietly answered. “Why must you do this to me?”
“Because I have my smarty pants on, too. Well, smarty dress.” She thought about the color choice. JZ would have picked black because it contrasted better with her skin. But red would have blended better with her skin, meaning New Guy wanted something serious with her.
“When did you know you like her?” CeeCee inquired in a friendly voice.
“When I saw her on TV with the red dress on ready to go on the date with him. I only thought she was extremely beautiful then. But when she read us that poem about peach blossoms – with your translation of course – she had me. If I keep getting impressed with her, I don’t think I can be in the same room as her.” He sighed. “She wouldn’t fall for someone fat, hideous, and unsuccessful like me. She would fall for the chiseled, smooth, successful guy like him who can buy her whatever she wants. You know, when she tore that poem up, I thought it was symbolic of her relationship with him. If he changes his behavior for her, I will definitely have no chance. Controlling my feelings for her was the only thing I had an advantage in. Seriously, how am I supposed to compete with him?”
CeeCee listened intently and waited for him to release his feelings to the world before she gave him her opinion. “First, you have to slow down. You’re still young. He is old; he’s 35 years old while she’s around 25 years old. Wait, how old are you?”
“Seventeen, almost 18.”
“Success takes time. You’re still really young and you have a great start. She’s a vegetarian; you both know and accept that. So far, you’re competing very well. You both like her wind poem…”
“I didn’t understand her wind poem until Buzzy explained it. If she’s proud of it, then I am, too. I also don’t care about politics but clearly he does,” he said glumly.
“He probably doesn’t care about politics either. He probably thought the poem was clever. He probably just saw her picture and wanted her. He didn’t even remember her when she worked for him the first time.”
“I guess I can see how shallow he is.”
“She’s poor; you both know and accept that she’s poor.”
“I don’t think he accepts her being poor.”
“Because he keeps buying her stuff but she keeps rejecting them.”
“She could just be polite.”
“No, I don’t think so. She’s an American; Americans don’t have the same polite practices we do. I also think the guy was right, that the girl didn’t want those gifts; something in her voice told me so. He bought her a ridiculously expensive necklace and she didn’t take it. He somehow got her the red dress she ruined, but then again, he noticed that her neck was missing something and got her that necklace that made her outfit look as perfect as she does.” He sighed.
“Who knows what else he might have bought her and she rejected, right?” she said, trying to cheer him up.
“I guess,” he said glumly.
“Your attitude is a loser’s attitude. Get a winner’s attitude. Let me show you. When he gave her the necklace and dress, what did she ask for?”
“Not to be in the public eye.”
“That’s right. He couldn’t give her that, despite his wealth, connections, and attractiveness, right? Publicity is something she really doesn’t want, but you were not the one who made her known to the world in that light.”
“If it weren’t for him, I wouldn’t have met her.”
“You have to measure her happiness and desires here. Hurry up and show me you have a winner’s attitude before we get to the stores. I don’t want to talk about this while we’re in there.”
“Fine. She’s not happy with the publicity. Did you know they put her in front of the shrine in Japan?”
“No, I didn’t. How horrible!”
“When I went to the bookstore, music store, and office supply store with her, all the cashiers were intrusive about her relationship with him to the point of holding the credit card hostage. Others harass her anywhere she may be. Yesterday, I saw a photo of her in the subway early in the morning. She was so tired, she looked like she gave up trying to fight all the photographs people take of her to portray her as a bad person. I can’t fix the lies people put in the media and I can’t protect her from what’s to come.”
“You’re going in the right direction but you’re not quite there yet. We’ll resume this when we’re done, ok? Now let’s go.”
They rushed to the first store. She grabbed his arms and looked him in the eyes.
“You have to look for her dress,” she said.
“You’re the one with strong feelings for her. Now get going.”
For the first time shopping with CeeCee, New Guy was actually participating in finding a dress for Elle. For the rest of the evening, they continued shopping, until the last five minutes before the store closed.
“Hey CeeCee, I found a dress that comes really close to what I want on her.”
“I really like this, but do you think she’ll wear it.”
“I’m 90% confident she will wear it.”
“I’m basing this dress’s potential on the red dress she wore. This looks simple and stylish. This has a similar looking fabric so I think she would wear it again. It has a similar length, so she’ll be comfortable with it. However, the red dress has two straps, this one only has one. Because it only has one strap, it looks modern and trendy, not classic and elegant like her red one. It might also take away from the comfort, since she might also find it irritating if the strapless side slips down and she has to constantly pull it up. This fabric stretches so I think this will fit her, but I think this is supposed to be skin-tight, which isn’t ideal for summer and dancing.”
“How about this one,” said CeeCee, holding one up she thought had potential.
“I like that it’s flow-y and flirty, perfect for summer and dancing, but it’s a short strapless dress. I don’t think she will wear it because she feels she’s revealing too much.”
“The store is closing in one minute. Please leave the merchandise where you found it and exit the store. Thank you,” said a voice through the intercom.
“Let’s go home and resume tomorrow,” said a tired CeeCee.
“Ok,” he said and yawned.