September 25, 2005
Last night I went to my first masquerade ball, an event put on by the same organization that led me to make my charity circuit debut this past spring. Like the last time, I initially thought I wouldn’t go—big social occasions stress me out–but then our receptionist said she was going, and she’d talked to the organizer and he said cocktail attire with a mask would be appropriate. I figured I could do that–wear the same outfit I wore to the last wedding I went to and just accessorize my face—and if the receptionist was going, I’d have someone to talk to besides my boss and his partner.
When I called to buy my ticket (Mr. Karen wasn’t going to be able to join me, since he already had other plans for the weekend), I quizzed the woman taking my information about attire, since the poster I’d seen mentioned a costume contest. She said her husband was going to wear “a sort of a costume”, so I figured if I did go that way, I wouldn’t be the only one.
I spent a couple weeks pondering what to wear. The first question was whether the costume I had which seemed most appropriate for a ball—Snow White—would fit given my current weight. It did, barely, so the costume option was still in play. That would be more fun, probably, but would require more gumption—no chance of blending in when dressed as a fairy tale princess. I went back and forth and back and forth and finally decided to go in costume—if I’m going why not go all the way? Even if I was alone in dressing as an alter ego, a la Playboy bunny Bridget Jones, that would at least make a good story later—plus I’d be a lock to win the costume contest.
So last night I put on my black wig and my princess dress and grabbed the mask I’d decorated with rhinestones got in the car and realized that maybe I should have considered going to the office in normal clothes and changing there before heading to the ball, as I almost closed part of the big yellow satin skirt in the car door and the seat belt was doing nothing but messing up the careful ironing I’d done. Ah well, there’s a note for next year.
The club where the ball was being held evidently figured it didn’t need a clear sign marking the driveway because if you’re the type of person who belongs you already know where to turn, but I thought I made out the right name in the twilight–bronze letters on a bronze background–so made my way up a very long and winding drive, hoping there would be a clubhouse at the end instead of someone’s mansion. As it turned out, I was in the right place. Fortunately, there was a lot where I could park my own car instead of having to deal with the valets, so I was able to complete my transformation into Snow White before anyone saw me, snapping on my big white collar and putting on my red cape. When I was done, I looked like this (that picture is from the last time I wore the costume, in 1999).
As I walked up to the entrance, I spotted my boss and his partner and their wives standing under the portico. I felt better when I saw my boss was wearing a cape, too—though his wasn’t bright red and if he took it off he wouldn’t be out of place at an elegant dinner like I would. We made our way inside as a group and soon took over a table near the stage. My costume got a lot of compliments; that I’d made it myself seemed to really impress people. That made me feel good; I had spent a lot of time on it way back when I made it, adding little details like flowers stitched onto the sleeves and vines up the front of the bodice (I think that may have been the last time I used those special stitches on my machine—maybe I’ll work them into a quilt one of these days). It felt good to have a chance to show it off again.
I’m allowing myself one non-NutriSystem meal a week and this was it, but I barely had a chance to eat what with all the other stuff going on at the ball, including a magician, a comedian, an auction, and a drawing for door prizes. Somewhere in there, the winners of the costume contest were announced—I won one of the prizes and an angel won the other. Since my prize, a $50 gift card for Outback steakhouse, was worth more than I paid for my ticket, I actually made money on the night. That’s a nice bonus.
There was also dancing, which I hadn’t planned on joining in on, since I’m not much of a dancer plus I hadn’t brought a partner, but then the DJ put on Rock Lobster and I just couldn’t resist reliving my college days. A woman dressed like an Indian was nice enough to join me, and it was fun. Another note for next year: if wearing a wig, pin it to your hair even if you don’t think you need to, lest it fly off at some point to reveal the mousy brown reality beneath. Ah well, at least the costume contest had already been decided and many of the other guests had left.
As I was leaving, the daughter of the co-owner of Purple Systems handed me a big bunch of balloons to take home. They looked very festive last night. I should have taken a picture then, because by this morning they looked like this:
Fortunately, I felt better than they looked, despite having stayed up way past my normal bedtime. They tell me they’re going to have another ball next year. I guess I’d better start thinking about a costume now in order to meet the standard I set at this inaugural event.