Inspiration /The Night Esmeralda Got Tipsy
by Marta Felber

My purpose in dropping into the antique store was to look for old Christmas ornaments. I found a real treasure instead. In the corner was an old, old dress form. I had always wanted one. Trying not to be too interested, I asked the price. The elderly man who was minding the store said, “Oh, that’s not for sale. It was my grandmother’s. We sold the dress that was on it and I haven’t put on another one.” I went closer and touched it lovingly. The bottom was made of bands of rusted metal. The top was covered in moth-eaten faded green velvet. I loved it! I stood for a long time looking at it and wondering about the woman for whom it had been custom made and the dresses she might have pinned on it. What stories it could tell!

It took me a long time to look through the box of ornaments. I found some I really liked and took them to the shopkeeper. As he wrapped them he looked at me rather strangely. “Would you really like to have the dress form? I’m getting old and I don’t know what will happen to it when I die. I could tell by your eyes that you would love it and take care of it.” We struck a bargain, and he carefully carried it to my car.

I named her Esmeralda and temporarily dressed her in a long red velvet dress of mine. She was bustier and more hippy than I. I had to leave the back zipper down all the way and I backed her into a corner where it would not show. It took more than a year to find a dress that fit her dimensions. It was an antique white beaded wedding dress. Then I topped her with a huge flower hat. Perfect!

Two nights ago I was reading in bed and getting to the dozing point. Sterling, my cat, was usually sleeping beside me by this time. I wondered where he was. Suddenly there was a banging noise to my left and I looked over to see Esmeralda rocking back and forth, back and forth. Suddenly she collapsed, into herself, making her a foot shorter. The rocking continued. The banging inside her continued. I started laughing, so hard that I could barely get out of bed, go to Esmeralda and rescue my cat. He was trapped inside her tight petticoat! He was wild and shot out of the room! I did not see him until the next morning. I sat on the edge of the bed and continued to laugh at poor Esmeralda in her tipsy state.

Notes from Marta:

Think of a time when you discovered a treasure you did not set out to find. Tell a friend about this, if he/she does not already know. What did you do with this treasure? Where is it today?

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