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Essays by Karen Anderson: Turquoise Silk Dress

Illustration by Kacie Brown

I am looking through my button box and pick up a small cloth-covered button. “Turquoise silk,” I murmur, remembering the dress it came from, a dress I wore only once.

It was elegant and expensive and I bought it to attend a dance with a law student. I was a senior in college and liked being able to say I was dating a law student. The fellow himself was actually rather dull.

Still, I bought the turquoise silk dress because I wanted to dazzle him or his friends or myself. Sometimes it is enough to feel dazzling, even if you’re the only one who knows. Before the dance, a group of couples went to a fine restaurant for dinner.

I ordered broiled lamb chops and they arrived on a sizzling metal platter, splattering grease all over the front of my turquoise dress. Looking down at the dark spots on the bright silk, I felt sick to my stomach. The waiter brought baking soda to soak up the grease, and I sat there with white splotches across my chest while others laughed and ate their meals.

I don’t know why I saved a button from that ruined turquoise dress. Maybe because I loved it so much—or because I loved the girl who felt dazzling for an hour.

Karen Anderson contributes "Essays by Karen Anderson" to Interlochen Public Radio.