World’s Worst Dress

It was an eyesore. But without it, I would never have met my husband.

By Mary Ann Pecci Pearce, Brick, New Jersey

As appeared in

My mother was forever doing me “favors.” One Sunday morning in June 1959 my mother walked into my room. "Surprise!" she said, proudly holding up a yellow dress with black and white stripes. "I made it just for you. What do you think?"

I bit my tongue. How could I tell Mom it was the most hideous dress I had ever seen? The too-intense colors, the gaudy rhinestone buttons, the shiny patent-leather belt, the hopelessly out-of-style billowy skirt.

"It's perfect for church," my mother continued blithely. "I wish someone had made a dress like this for me."

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Too bad you can't wear it, I thought. But I knew Mom had spent a lot of time on the dress. Only the world's most ungrateful daughter would refuse.

Reluctantly I put it on.

All through church I prayed, Lord, let me get out of here without anyone seeing me. Especially Dennis Pearce, the boy I had a crush on. He was one of the cutest guys at Neptune High. Although we were in some of the same classes, Dennis had never taken any notice of me. (It didn't help that every time I got near him I became tongue-tied.)

At the end of the service I bolted for the door. But I had to wait on the steps while my parents chatted with their friends. Just a little while longer... Then out of the corner of my eye I saw the Pearces approaching. Before I could escape, Dennis was right beside me.

I started gabbing a mile a minute, hoping if I kept it up he wouldn't notice my horrible dress. "I'm going to college in September," I said.

"That's great," Dennis replied. "I got accepted to the police academy."

"Wow!" I said. Somehow I kept the conversation going. Soon we were walking to the parking lot together. The next thing I knew Dennis had asked me out on a date!

We courted through college, and eventually got married. Months after our wedding I asked Dennis if he remembered the day he had first asked me out.

"You bet I do," he said. "You were always quiet in school, almost standoffish. I didn't think you'd be much fun. But you were so animated when we talked on the church steps, I wanted to get to know you better." Maybe that zebra-striped yellow dress wasn't what I would have chosen, but that day it was the perfect dress for me.

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