“Where are all the Brock dresses?” This is the only question that my husband has asked me since Monday, when he agreed to dress me for the sum of a week. To be clear, I own not even one Brock dress.
We have tried this once before (me letting him dress me) but that was only for a day. This time he has complete control over my exterior presentation for five days (a work week). Five! Do you know how much progress, or conversely damage, can be done in that time? Here is where specific examples would come in handy, but I don’t have the mental capacity to get into it because there is so much more to get through. Like, for example, how having your partner dress you for a week can reveal more than hours of couples therapy would. Allow me to explain by demonstration.
If at the beginning of this exercise, I thought he was lazy because of the one-and-done, single-stop dresses he kept pulling out of my closet for me, now I see that for what it really was: a manifestation of his dedication to efficiency. That you could cover yourself with just one garment and not have to think about it any deeper or longer than a few split seconds is a blessing, he says. I, on the other hand, enjoy the thrill of a roundabout rollercoaster that pulls you up, takes you down, sloshes you sideways then around before ultimately leaving you exactly where you started. Efficient? Hell no. Fun? Hell YES. But then again, I respect and appreciate that while I am prone to burnout that is more often than not self-inflicted (must I really spend hours debating a shoe if there is more pressing work to get to?), he understands the true meaning of living the marathon (baseline uniform), not sprint (every day as an oyster for newfangled self expression), of life.
On other such days, I worried that he had trouble identifying low hanging fruit and therefore I filled in gaps for him. Why, after all, would he pair pink parachute pants with a flimsy cotton t-shirt and not with a similarly pink peplum tank? See also, clunky black sandals with green mini dress.
This informed me of a systemic problem plaguing our relationship wherein he tells me what he likes (T-shirts with parachute pants) but I override this with what I like (a peplum tank is the superior choice), act on that accord (wear the tank instead of the T-shirt) and thusly announce myself the winner.
There is no winner — or rather, everyone is a winner — in matters of the heart. I should know that by now.
On the day he asked me to wear a slip dress (“I would have liked it with a T-shirt underneath, but you don’t have any plain ones”), I changed into a linen henley and bermuda shorts. I told him I retained the original shoes he had selected (satin Birkenstock-style sandals) and demanded that he like this look more, but his reply? “I hate it, and only chose those shoes because I didn’t know where to find other ones.” This leads me to the concluding sentiment that I might want to work on my listening skills, but also that a small closet packed to the gills is an infinite mine of possibility. He knows how to look, that is for certain, but does he see?
Now, what shoes would he have selected had they been easier to locate? “Leather boots with the heel,” he said, but then showed me a picture to reveal a pair of flat suede ankle booties. His description was not reflective of the photo shown, so I will add Needs to Improve Communication Skills to his running tally.
Or maybe not. He had no problem expressing why he picked out a white linen button-down shirt with embroidered fruits on it to pair with denim cut offs, kitten heel mules and a beige belt. “This look is fresh,” he said. “And comfortable! But I wouldn’t expect you to walk the whole day in those shoes.” I found that thoughtful — they’re not actually uncomfortable — but the reason he did not opt for a pair of four-inch sandals (he told me he would have) is because he had my comfort in mind. In matters of our empathy exams, Abie: 1; Leandra: 0.
Actually, I’ll make that two, because when he styled the printed spaghetti strap dress with florals on it (“Those are flowers? I just like colors; I don’t see the trees, Leandra. I’m more of a forest thinker when it comes to dressing”), he asked me to wear orange driving loafers. I rejected this request and together we decided on the alternative of velvet loafers. I speculate he just wanted to let me win and can see him advising fellow comrades to “choose battles wisely” when up against their partners.
As for the sequins and feathers that snuck into this album? Lol. Jk. He did not put those on me. I executed that vision top to bottom, bottom to top, in totality. All me. Ultimately, you could argue that I failed by all accounts possible because I didn’t actually let him dress me this week, but I am convinced that without my guidance, I’d have spent every day wearing the white cotton nightgown I sleep in. And maybe I would have! Which is supposed to be the point, so in conclusion I offer this: Maybe I am not as thorough a baton passer as I have previously believed myself to be. Maybe I need to work on letting go, committing to second-party empowerment when I am providing the illusion that it exists. I will work on it, I swear! Everywhere else.