This past weekend Lady Hiva and I went to the U.S. Marine Corps Ball—they are held annually around the world to honor the establishment of the Marine Corps. We never went while we were in Manila and decided that this was going to be our last chance to go, so we better participate—sounds easy, except Lady needed to get a gown and I needed a Tux.
The week before the event we still had neither! Life was so busy we had never taken time to get them. I finally made Lady go and find one. We went to one of the popular shopping areas in the city—Nisantaşa. We literally went into 13 or 14 stores in a row and Lady Hiva tried on nearly 30 dresses. The most difficult part of the experience was finding a dress that was modest. By choice and for religious reasons, Lady Hiva needed to have a dress that covered the shoulders and was not open on either side of the dress. That proved to be difficult, many evening gowns show skin in one place or another.
Tau’aho and I went along to shop. I was the translator between Lady and all of the dress salespeople. Now, I can assure you that neither tailoring vocabulary nor women’s clothing design vocabulary were taught to us for my office workplace vocabulary. So you can imagine how ‘fun’ the first two or three places went. With each store I was able to collect a few words so by the last few it was a seamless process. The most difficult part was explaining to them that Lady Hiva wanted a gown that was modest. After their utterly shocked look of “are you serious?” They would go into salesperson mode and try to please. They offered gowns that were modest but they were UGLY (capitalization on purpose for emphasis) or they were deemed by Lady to be “old Lady dresses.” I would literally translate what was being said so you can imagine the laughs we received when I said that to them in Turkish. (Maybe I should have done some courtesy editing haha).
Many of them offered alterations they could do to make an immodest dress modest. Some of those efforts still missed the mark and showed off too much skin. Others asked if she could pin or tuck in places to show more skin so the dress would work. I started to tell them that Lady Hiva wanted a modest dress for religious reasons. After telling one Lady that she looked at Lady in a stunning and beautifully fitted gown with plenty of skin showing and said (then I translated), “Can’t you just go for one night this way?” Lady Hiva was firm in her resolve and the Lady persisted, “It is just one night…” The answer was no.
We finally found a dress that Lady Hiva really liked and was modest. Sadly, it was the most expensive dress of them all. I am still in shock over the price! Yet, Lady Hiva was able to keep her dignity and honor for keeping a commitment she had made years ago to be modest. I thought about it afterwards and how in life there are many times that we are tempted to just let our guard down for “just one night…” and usually those just one night experiences lead to a lifetime of regrets. I admire Lady Hiva for the woman she is and her resolve to be an example of the very woman she wants to be. It is not about the dress or showing the skin, it was about a personal commitment and not breaking it. The high price of the gown was nothing compared to her walking with the knowledge she had been true to herself. (Although it still may be the most expensive item in our closet!)
They day of the Ball came and we had fun going with friends. We rode down in a rented van with colorful party lights lining it. I felt like we needed to have our own reality show as we all rode through traffic in our gowns and tuxes in a vehicle that was all lit up almost borderline gaudy. We were just missing the cameras and some emotional drama and Bravo would have signed us up!
The night was a blast, we enjoyed spending time with friends and I have to admit that as they brought in the flags and played the national anthems, I did tear up from my patriotic streak. To think most of those people are making some sort of sacrifice to serve a country and people they love. I am glad we went.
As we came home and Lady and I were looking at photos, she said, I am so glad that I did not give in and wore a modest dress. Me too, Lady, me too. What a great person I get to share life with.