For each of the ten dresses in my exhibition/play, “A(r)mour: The Defiant Dress,” Charlotte Mercer, the curator, has asked the dress donor to submit a letter to her telling them the story that made Charlotte want to include the dress in the show. Here is Camille’s letter about her dress in the show.
These are players in the story of my dress: There’s me, Camille, my ex-husband Jon, Kathryn, my best friend (when Jon and I were together) and Barry, Kathryn’s husband and Jon’s business partner.
Jon and Barry built up a successful development business together — so successful that Kathryn and I were both able to be stay-at-home moms when our kids were born. That’s how we became so close; we raised our kids together.
Anyway, Kathryn and I decided we’d celebrate Jon’s fiftieth at their place and that I’d make the cake and when I was at home decorating it, Terry, my sister, texted me. She was at Arpell’s having lunch and she sent me a photo of Kathryn and Jon having lunch together and I could tell what Terry knew right away too.
Terry came over right away, partly because she felt guilty but mostly to console me. We’re twins. But when she arrives, I had the wine poured and two pieces of the cake already for us to eat.
That photo woke me up. I’d been asleep in our marriage forever and so I thanked Terry and it was when we were just talking that she mentioned getting coins in our cakes as kids.
I don’t know about where and when you grew up, but when I grew up and a kid had a birthday, we’d get a cake with money wrapped in wax paper in it, so I decided to put my wedding ring (for Jon), one of my house keys (for Kathryn) and two Zanax tablets (for Barry) — all wrapped in wax paper — into my cake, and I was a really careful to note where each one was so that she could serve the right portion to each of them when it was time for dessert.
I was giddy, Charlotte. I was trembling with excitement at the thought of making a grand entrance with that cake, with lots of lit candles on it, and presenting it on the table with Terry and my pieces missing. I was sure someone would say something about the missing pieces and I’d get to say: “Wait. You’ll understand when you get the prize in your cake and read these cards.”
Then I went out and bought the dress you have — the most expensive dress that I could buy to wear to the party and three tickets to Hawaii for me and the kids. I decided to tell them and have a divorce party in our condo down there.
And when I got back, I made the cards using the photo Terry sent me on the front. I told Jon we’d be divorcing in his, I told Kathryn there was crushed glass in her piece of cake and I apologized to Barry for telling him that way, wished him the best and gave him my new cell phone number.