That Time Walmart was an Answer to Prayer

9:18 AMHeather

This past weekend was the long awaited wedding of my husband's cousin. It's a rather long story, but he and his fiancee wife have a long history and we have all been cheering for this day to come for awhile now.

So, we were super excited when they got engaged and wedding preparations began. A ranch was chosen as the wedding location, and we had our family Christmas there to all check it out. By the way, that side of a family is nearing 30 people, so the day is approaching when renting out a location for family get-togethers will be a must.

I was so excited about it all that it became apparent that this ranch wedding meant I HAD to buy a new pair of cowboy boots. Which I've long wanted anyway. But I couldn't justify buying. You see, this Texas girl has been surviving on the kids' size boots from Target that my friend suggested I buy as a cheap place holder until my dreams of real boots came to pass. 

So, I came home from that family Christmas and promptly got online with my Amazon gift card and unexpected Christmas money. Obviously, it was time to pull the trigger on boots. And since I'm the family trend setter, all my people decided they needed boots, too. You know--just for the wedding.

Thankfully, I found an online sale that proved our need for boots and we all carefully selected boots from the website pictures, which is not generally the best approach to purchasing items, in my humble opinion. I also purchased a dress online to wear to the wedding, with the solid fashion advice of my college aged niece, with whom I was frantically texting and sending screen shots. 

I won't go into details. But ultimately, we did all end up with boots after a little hit-and-miss with our online choices (and by the way, I happen to have 3 pairs of never worn men's boots that I need to sell, in case you're interested). We also all ended up with proper attire, and the day finally arrived.

We were in a rush to get out the door and to the wedding, seeings how my husband was the officiant, and I was to be available for any last minute wedding needs. I was on the decorating and behind-the-scenes helping committee. After the drive out to the other side of Dallas, down the long gravel road to the lodge and ranch, I happened to mutter to my husband that I was feeling a little tired and cranky.

Fair warning. And important to keep in mind through the rest of this long winded story that I swear has a point.

So, we all rounded the corner from the little parking lot and the bride suddenly popped out from her bridal suite door. She hugged us and let us know that all was in order and there was nothing she needed from us.

Then, we began to make our way to the reception and wedding site. That's when it happened.  

The worst kind of fashion emergency that I can imagine. Okay, okay, in light of that Janet Jackson wardrobe malfunction, it is at least one of the worst fashion emergencies.

Because as we turned by the covered porch, there was the mother of the groom.

In the exact dress that I had so carefully ordered online four months prior to the wedding.

My heart sank. I looked over every detail of her dress as we approached her. 

Yep. The. Exact. Same. Dress.

I said a cheerful hello to all--or at least attempted to. Okay, well, I failed and muttered a "hey y'all" in their general direction. Then, I saw the groom's sister and made a bee line for her.

Ashley is a wise and discerning woman so I explained the issue about her mom's dress and mine. From the look of horror on her face, I knew she agreed with me.

Something had to be done.

But we were literally in the middle of no where. 

Panic was rising within me as Ashley recommended a quick trip to town to see what could be purchased.

A quick trip to town. Which is about 30 minutes away. And the wedding was starting in 90 minutes. And I needed to be available to help in the final few minutes before the ceremony. My stomach was turning into knots with the stress of it all.

My little family made our way into the reception site, where we were alone with our hangers full of wedding clothes. And then, I loudly led my dilemma be known.

Since the decorations and the ceremony and the reception site did not need any attention, we decided I would indeed go in search of something. Anything. Quickly. Without panic.

Except I was panicking. And stressing. And freaking out a little. Okay, a lot.

But I did still have my cute new boots to wear. 

Which would not look so cute with my cropped jeans and t-shirt that I wore out there.

My fourteen-year-old offered to come with me. Let me tell you, if you are ever in a pinch, he is exactly who you want around. He is a logical and helpful and incredibly resourceful person. I mean, I cannot tell you the times in grade school when we found him working through a problem with customer service or the restaurant manager.

Plus, my heart was touched that my teenage son was choosing to help me through this fashion crisis.

Sometimes, you get to see the fruit of your parenting toils.

So off we went. Grabbing the keys to my husband's car and running like maniacs across the ranch toward the car. We jumped in, in a flash. And then could not get the seat to move.

Listen, I am noticeably shorter than my husband. Meaning, I could not reach the peddles.

It was Murphy's Law at this point. I was in dire need of avoiding a "who wore it best" in real life. I was in the middle of no where with very little time and a really big need.

It was a true fashion 9-1-1.

My son finally got the seat to move (I told you he is resourceful)...but only the seat. The back was still tilted way too far back.

So I could reach the peddles and sorta sit forward in my seat or lean way back against the seat like I was some new teenage driver, trying to be cool, all leaned back in my seat. 

Yi yi yi.

That was the critical moment.

As I peeled out, heading toward town, with my son navigating. My son, the resourceful teenager that he is, also willingly playing the role of stylist.  

I was completely unsure how this was going to turn out.

And then it hit me. The metaphorical fork in the road. The moment of truth. The panic within me and stress that I felt. I had a decision to make.

It was a lot like the time on our honeymoon when I pushed the customs checkpoint bell and the sirens and red light went off loudly. In the one big huge wide open room with all sorts of people. And the customs agent reached for the bag and explained it had to be hand checked. I realized with a sinking feeling that it was the suitcase with all the goods from the lingerie shower my bridesmaids threw me after my rehearsal dinner, the night before the wedding.

And every last person in the Puerto Vallarta airport was about to enjoy a good look at every single item. My face grew hot and I looked to Chris, ahead of me. Who was trying not to laugh. Because he knew my timidity.

Just like that time, I realized I could go with this situation and let it be a good story to tell and choose to laugh. Or, I could let it get the best of me and ruin the special day.

A good story and laughter were my choice.

I threw my phone toward Cooper and asked him to check my Around Me app to see what he could find. He found a promising possibility and called the number.

But it was an online store.

A for effort, though.

It was about ten minutes down the road when I realized there was no way we could get to the bigger town where we were headed. Time would not allow a trip there, shopping, and a trip back. So I desperately asked Cooper to check about options in the tiny little town of Quinlan, Texas.

Around me didn't even register Quinlan.


Yet, I pressed on and said a prayer out loud for an answer to my problem.

As we neared the one traffic light in Quinlan, our eyes were peeled, scanning both sides of the road up ahead.

That's when I saw it.


The only other signs I saw were for an Auto Zone, Dollar Tree, or fast food restaurant.

So I could go for some unconventional challenge like Project Runway, or venture into Walmart.

I screamed out Walmart so loudly that Cooper had a good laugh. 

And just like it always happens when you're in a hurry, people are moving in slow motion.

I tried to turn into the Walmart, but a man was walking his bicycle across the road. Very. Slowly. Like it was in slow motion.

Hurry, hurry, hurry, man. Don't you know? I cannot wear the same dress as the mother of the groom. I have an emergency here. 

We finally were able to turn in. Where approximately four other people seemed to walk quite slowly through the parking lot as I looked for a parking spot.

It seems important to note something here about my relationship with Walmart. We go way back. To when a Walmart finally came to my town in high school and it was like a little piece of heaven come to earth. I love Walmart. I do. Or I did, anyway. Until I became a young mom. And I suddenly had a great need for kindness and efficiency and an annoyance free zone when it came time to shop. That's when I began a love/hate relationship with my nearest Walmart.

Because,y'all listen. There's a reason there is a people of Walmart website. It's really true. For some reason, when you drive into the Walmart parking lot, it's like all common courtesy gets sucked out of you. People are all jockeying for a parking spot and cutting you off or they are grabbing the cart you were about to grab, or they are all reaching over you to get something off the shelf.

So I broke up with Walmart about 8 years ago. I did. I decided my quality of life was more important. I found a local grocery store with my favorite checker (her name is Janet, and her daughter is about to finish college) and the same frozen food stocker and butcher and store manager that I saw every single week. And every Tuesday when I went grocery shopping, they all knew to expect me. It was like the TV show, Cheers, where everyone knows your name. When I walked in, it was like they all yelled, "Norm!"

Thus the irony that I was so enthusiastically embracing a Walmart as an answer to prayer.

And not just ANY Walmart. But the one in Quinlan, Texas. 

"Please let there be a solution here!" I muttered out loud, in between laughing with Cooper at the ridiculousness of this whole situation.

We ran in and scoped out the ladies' section. 

It became apparent that cute little dresses suitable for a ranch wedding and my new boots were in short supply in the Quinlan, Texas, Walmart. I had dreams of a some little lace dress with cute details that would be perfect for the occasion.

Cooper found one, in fact.

Except it was a beach cover-up and it was open in the front like a little robe.

I decided it wouldn't be a good look. Not even with the swimsuit he grabbed to go under it.

So it boiled down to exactly two choices. Both were cotton knit sundresses. One was short, and the other a maxi dress. 

I never even looked at the price tag. We took a third lap around the ladies' clothes, walking very quickly and scanning our eyes back and forth. We must have looked a little crazy, but too bad for the people around us. Surely, we didn't stick out that bad amongst the people of Walmart. 

I tried them both on super quick and decided the maxi dress was the better choice. In fact, I though it rather flattering in the 3 nanoseconds I had it on under the fluorescent lights.

Proud of our efficient use of time, we flew to the jewelry section to find some necklace to dress up the cotton dress.

That's when I saw them.

Cute little statement necklaces. For $1! Yes, people. For a buck. I could nearly hear my cousin Megan's voice saying, "You can't afford NOT TO."

My son says I yelled out very loudly, "Christmas shopping!" 

But I think he's making that up.

I grabbed one or two or ten, and we made a run for the cashier.

But one more detour. Because I suddenly remembered Big Mama's bookstore giveaway contest. She is giving away some great prizes if you post a picture of yourself in a store with her new book, noting which store you found the book.

Walmart was on the list.

Granted I was in the Walmart in a tiny little country town.

But hey--I found a wedding attire solution and $1 statement necklaces, so I decided to press my luck. 

My son pretty much knew I'd lost it as this point and began to offer to drive us back to the ranch. 

Did I mention he's only 14?

We did a quick swoop through the book section, with me yelling out, "Look, Cooper! Look! Look for Nobody's Cuter than You!" 

But four laps through, and there was no Melanie Shankle book to be found. So I snapped a quick pic of the Inspirational book section to prove my efforts as we speed-walked toward check out.

Here's where I remembered reason #467 why I broke up with Walmart. Because there are 38 check out lines and only 3 open.

We did that running from one to the next in search of the shortest line until we ended up at the express lanes. Since I had 11 items, we made a run for it. 

Only to be cut off by an overzealous woman who CLEARLY had way more than the allowed 20 items for the express lane.

I may or may not have loudly made my point to my son about people using the express lane who had more than 20 items.

Hmpf. People of Walmart.

So we jumped two lanes over. And the turtle conspiracy continued. Because Mrs. Cashier had all the time in the world to scan every item. And talk about them. And make small talk. Which made me want to look around for the hidden camera. Because we were obviously being PUNKED. 

The cash register finally finished our transaction and we RAN toward the exit. For a brief moment of panic, we thought our car had been stolen. Until we remembered I had to drive my husband's vehicle with the seat back that wouldn't go all the way up for me.

We high-fived and laughed hysterically and made our way back to the wedding. During our drive, Cooper so kindly removed the tags from the dress and necklace for me, like a very loving and patient son. In between texting our best friends to report on how his mother had lost her mind and chose Walmart to be the answer to her prayers.

All's well that ends well.

Although, I will tell you, that the dress was not nearly as cute or flattering under for-real light and with more than two seconds to evaluate it.

But it was a dress no one else was wearing.

And all night long, our extended family got a kick out of coming up to whisper that they heard about my little adventure.

So, what's the moral to this story? 

First of all, you might want to double check about the attire of the wedding party before you get all excited about a new dress and boots.

And second of all, when life hands you fashion emergencies, make lemonade. Choose to laugh and embrace the situation as a good story to tell when you end up in the Walmart in Quinlan, Texas. 

While you're there, tell Gladys, our cashier, that we said hello. 

But watch out for the lady with 45 items in the express lane.

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