Someone is going to have a party, probably turning eighteen. About six weeks before this, the girls start preparations. It begins with ringing one’s friends to discuss clothes. One’s own wardrobe, and that of one’s friends, is minutely considered, picked over, discussed proposed, rejected, contemplated? “But what about the gold one, you know, with the bow? Yes, but you could just put a bit of lace over that bit or something. Or that burgundy one with the long sash. No, I didn’t know that — well, couldn’t she wear the purple and you could have the silver?” And so on, over the next fortnight, phone calls back and forth, indecision and hesitation?
Finally, the conclusion is reached that nobody has anything remotely suitable that hasn’t already been worn (or almost worn) at least once, and is therefore not to be considered again. So a new dress must be found. This takes another two weeks or so. St. Vincent de Paul, the Smith Family, all local op-shops, are combed for possibilities. Local boutiques are visited, and there is much more phoning: “Oh, it was just gorgeous, it had this wonderful skirt, and it was just the softest blue — well, yes, about $90 in the sale, but just gorgeous — no, I guess not. But there was another one that was cheaper, except it wasn’t quite the right length, and I don’t think that above the knee is really all that flattering — did you see the green one, though? Wasn’t that cute?” Eventually it is decided that this time, perhaps that maroon one that so-and-so didn’t wear last time could be adapted for this time, and maybe the embroidered silver one with the straight skirt that you picked up at the Smith Family last Christmas but never wore could do for this one?
Dresses sorted out, hair, jewellery and shoes remain to be decided. Much further discussion ensues regarding who has the best sandals to match the chosen dress, whether the owner of the said sandals will be using them or they can be borrowed, whether anyone has a little jacket to go with that dress because if it is cold you’ll just freeze, it’s really pretty strappy; oh yes, there is that shawl with the sequins, or the one with the embossed velvety bits. And so and so really looks best with her hair up, but if you do that what about curling it, because that takes quite a lot of time. No, she shouldn’t have her hair up, it’s such lovely hair, she should have it down. You’ll break your ankle in those sandals!! Oh, have you seen her gold and purple necklace, it’s just so lovely — I’ve got this sort of sparkly one and the earrings do match quite well?
The week before the party all this intensifies. Dresses are re-agonised over and re-distributed before returning to the first decision yet again. Maybe those sandals aren’t quite right. Did you decide on a different pair of earrings?
The morning of the party is happy chaos. Finally everybody is dressed, ready and assembled; the party begins; it is quite fun; but nothing like the preceding six weeks.
The boys start to get ready about an hour before the party.
“WHAT? WHAT DO YOU MEAN IT'S FORMAL? WHY DO THEY ALWAYS DO THIS?”
“Where are my black trousers?”
“Okay, let’s go.”
And they enjoy it too.