Imogen is going to a ball. She has a pretty pale blue dress that is a mile too long. She wants to buy a pair of ballet flats to match. No high heels. Definitely not.
The dress is shortened. The shoes are bought. Silver glittery ones, hardly a heel to be seen. We find a perfect blue necklace and some earrings. We buy those too. I even persuade Imogen to buy a pale pink lipstick and a mascara. She’s not really a make-up kind of girl.
She has her three glass slippers. No need for a pumpkin. No need for a rat. Andy has offered to drive her to the dance.
So Imogen is all ready for the ball.
Or is she? I suddenly remember something rather important… Imogen doesn’t know how to dance.
Once upon a time I knew how to dance. Real dancing, not disco dancing. I had ballroom dancing classes when I was a teenager. They were held once a week after school. I went with my two best friends. We thought it would be fun, a bit of a laugh. Maybe we were hoping to be invited to a ball.
We were given partners. Mine was old and very short and rather creepy. But I didn’t complain. There was a shortage of men in the class. At least I got a man to dance with. It didn’t matter what he looked like. I was sure I could learn to dance without even looking at him.
We spent weeks learning the waltz, the quickstep, the foxtrot, the tango… Soon we were experts. A graduation dance was arranged in the school hall, a posh affair. We could invite friends. They’d be a band. We could show off our new skills.
Of course I invited Andy to come. Did you know we went to school together? I wonder why he didn’t come to the dancing classes with me. Perhaps he refused. I don’t remember. Anyway, he agreed to come to the ball.
“Can you dance?” I asked.
“No,” he replied.
“Don’t worry,” I said. “I’ll pull you along. It’ll be great fun.”
And it was. I’m sure we stepped on each other’s toes a million times. I’m sure we didn’t look graceful at all. But we didn’t care.
That was the first and last time I used my dancing skills. I never got another opportunity to go to a ball. I guess that’s the reason I never even thought of giving my own girls dancing lessons. But perhaps I should have. Perhaps my girls’ education is deficient. I know Jane Austen would certainly agree.
“What will you do if anyone asks you to dance?” I ask Imogen.
“I’ll tell him I don’t know how to dance but I’m willing to have a go.”
She doesn’t sound concerned. Not know how to dance? That’s just a minor detail.
Imogen applies her make-up. She puts on her dress. She fixes a flower into her hair, puts on her jewellery and slips her feet into her shoes.
“What do you think, Mum?”
“You look beautiful!”
I grab my camera. “Smile! Turn this way. Turn that way. Smile!” I’ve captured the moment.
Imogen heads back to her bedroom to take off her dress. It’s far too warm to travel in a ball gown. (She only put it on so I could take some photos.) She’ll change again when she gets to the college where the ball is to be held.
Imogen reappears in a denim skirt and T shirt. Her glittery shoes are still on her feet. Her jewellery is still around her neck. She has a small bag containing a few essentials (she’s staying in Sydney overnight) and her dress is on a hanger.
At last, it's time to leave for the ball.
That all happened yesterday.
So did Imogen have a wonderful time? Did anyone ask her to dance? Did she step on his toes?
I am guessing the answer to all three questions is yes. But I shall find out for certain later today.
Do you have to know how to dance if you're going to a ball? If you're dancing with the right person, I reckon the answer is no.