When you become a parent you know there are a lot of unpleasant duties you’ll be forced to endure all in the name of parenthood.
One task I never could have imagined doing is spending a Saturday afternoon sniffing — with a vengeance, a real full nostril inhale, — of my daughter’s dance costumes from last year.
There I was on the floor of my bedroom, on my hands and knees, with 14 dance costumes fanned out on the carpet and I was systematically smelling each one.
My husband, walking down the hall, notices this and of course thinks I have lost my mind — again. Because not only was I at an olfactory Defcon 5, but I was also dual wielding lavender Lysol and a Tide stain remover pen while wearing two pairs of reading glasses. I looked like a demented Sherlock Holmes on The Case of the Unclean Costume.
Because my husband is a brave man and accustomed to the many variables in my behavior, he treats seeing his wife on the floor going CSI on their daughter’s dance wear as just another day in paradise which is why he very nonchalantly asked me, “So, have you found a new hobby you need to tell me about?”
I look up through both pair of reading glasses and excitedly explained that I was a woman on a quest to achieve dance costume financial Nirvana because every sequined, bejeweled bit of Lycra and every custom-made tutu was money in the bank. The only thing standing between me and a dance bill that didn’t cause heart palpitations was that each costume had to be pristine.
I was about to embark into the high stakes, high reward world of dance costume resale.
The sale is at the studio where my daughter dances, Priscilla and Dana’s, and it’s a serious enterprise. Studios from all over the country come to North Kansas City to shop for costumes in a building the could double as a Target. (Not a Super Target, mind you, but definitely a Greatland.) As far as the eye can see, it’s racks upon racks of glittery goodness. Imagine if a disco ball mated with a rainbow and then gave birth to a confetti cannon and you have the visual.
The only problem with the sale is that you have to jump through a lot of hoops to get your costumes accepted. I’m sure, scratch that, I’m positive, less scrutiny is required to get FBI clearance.
For starters, there’s a nine-page, single-spaced, smallish font, checklist for submitting your costumes. Every rhinestone, every bejeweled embellishment, every piece of lace must be perfect, every loose thread clipped and everything must be clean as if the costume was carried by fairies to a Febreze Cloud where it was gently massaged by a Woolite shower and finished off with a Downy fabric softener kiss.
I’m not ashamed to admit I was overwhelmed. If it wasn’t for the dollar signs I was seeing, I probably would have given up.
Finally, when I had everything perfect, I submitted the costumes for approval and was (gasp) spurned. One ivory costume got the boot (curse you, white dance wear). Worse, I had to do the walk of shame and pick up the costume from the reject rack. All I could hear in my head was the voice of dance moms everywhere crowing, “That’s what happens when you don’t Scotchguard your costumes ,sister.”
I felt so embarrassed that my fear of getting a case of the “Fumers” was keeping me from being a dance mom extraordinaire.
This illness I speak of is brought on by the mixing of aerosol stain repellent and glue called E6000, which is used to adhere crystals to dance wear. The adhesive is so hardcore there’s websites devoted to its “toxic poisoning” potential. I’ve always been afraid the combo of Scotchguard fumes and the off gassing of the glue would make me crazy as in dance mom crazy and no mama wants to go there.
Every time I see a mother go cuckoo at a competition I just shake my head and mutter, “Oh, Lord, she’s a Fumer.” The only known cure is for your child to quit dance and who wants to willingly recede from a world that combines artistry, athletic magnificence and bling?
This love of the art form (and tiny Swarovski crystals with an overlay of beaded lace) is why I decided to get back to work, to give that rejected costume a second cleaning and go back in for another try.
I’m a dance mom, dang it. The few, the proud, the slightly crazy (but only because of the glue). Other than that we would all be completely sane.