Mum was ever so excited when we declared our engagement. ‘I’ll buy your wedding dress!’ she generously offered. Later, when she started looking into the cost of a half decent dress, Mum was shocked to see some cost as much as £200. I didn’t know how to tell her that her verbal contract was binding and the fact I had my eye on a £1500 dress was neither here nor there.
I successfully bullied mother dearest into buying me an obscenely expensive dress and my metamorphosis from bedraggled ragamuffin to shimmering vision of beauty was complete.
The dress was lovely. Stitched by some designer I’d never heard of, Augusta Jones, who was apparently a big deal. I’ll definitely wear her dresses again for my next marriage.
I loved the dress so much I had visions of dusting it off in years to come when my future daughter got married, even if she did take one look at it and shirk: ‘God, Mum, that’s so 2013!’
It’d make a strict diet-checker too. I could wear it every year on my anniversary just to ensure I hadn’t got fat. (God it was a tight fit. But who needs oxygen?)
So you get the picture, yeah? I’m painting an image of a dress so beautiful and delicate it was an immediate heirloom.
However, I danced on a dirty dance floor and it was a little mucky after the show (aka wedding). No problem, I thought. I’ll just drop it off at the dry cleaners.
Weeks pass. I pop off to honeymoon while my dress goes through whatever process makes dresses clean.
I returned and made my way to the dry cleaners.
After a bit of a fumble, they admitted they had lost the dress.
Oh, it’s on. It’s fight time.
I stopped short of shouting ‘DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM?’ but I did ask a legally savvy friend to write a legally savvy letter demanding compensation, casually leaving my work email address at the bottom so they’d know I was a journalist and would drag their reputation through mud if they didn’t give me the cost of the dress back immediately.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. Well, actually, the crazy bit comes later, but just stay with me. I can see you all thinking, god, this is boring, stop banging on about your dress and give us car chases and fist fights. Sorry. I promise it ends with a bit of a punch up.
Once we had established I was Kim-the-hotshot-journalist-Willis, they decided they’d actually found the dress after all.
I arrived at the dry cleaners ready to be reacquainted with my precious heirloom.
‘Er, it’s pink,’ I said as he unzipped the bag. Pink like your whites go when you wash them with a rogue red sock. Which is not the kind of washing related mistake one expects of one’s dry cleaner.
‘Is it?’ the dry cleaner asked, his hands shaking with what I presumed was fear. After all, I was formidable and he was clearly a big fat liar.
‘Yes,’ I said.
‘Oh,’ he said. ‘I’m colourblind.’ How convenient.
I kicked off – something I’m very good at, just ask my lucky new husband.
We agreed that the dress was not as promised. He agreed to email me within three days with a compensatory figure.
Back to square one, I thought.
But old shaky hands didn’t email me. So I called. Someone else answered the phone and assured me the dry cleaner would call me back.
‘Today?’ I asked.
‘No,’ the man said.
‘Right. Tomorrow?’ I asked. I know how to get what I want.
‘Um, no,’ he said. Bit weird. At least pretend he will call me back.
‘Will he call me back this week?’ I asked, irate.
‘No,’ the man said. ‘The thing is, he’s dead.’
Bet you weren’t expecting that, were you? Neither was I.
Instinctively, I presumed the dry cleaner had faked his death to get out of paying me compensation. Bit extreme, considering I could walk into the dry cleaners at any point and prove his existence. Or maybe he killed himself because he felt so terrible about my dress. Again, Kim, you are not the epicentre of all human emotion, don’t presume people kill themselves when they’ve done you a disservice.
In the end, I decided the dearly departed’s wingman was telling the truth. He really had died.
Which is very sad. I am sorry for his loss.
Better people than me would let it go at this stage. There’s been a death – just go and pick up your pink wedding dress and stop being so insensitive.
But I didn’t know him.
And I am not a better person than I am.
So, I fought on. And I won. Which I do feel mildly bad about, but only because death was involved. If he hadn’t died, I would have ruthlessly continued to fight for the compensation I thought to be fair. But he did die, and I ruthlessly continued to fight for the compensation I thought to be fair, anyway. If I believed in hell, I guess I’d be going there. But I don’t, so it’s all good.