As the month of December looms, the horror of the school Christmas ball beckons me. It is an event that, like it’s decorations, should be magical. It should be as glittery as the Christmas trees that adorn those old halls. It should be as beautiful as the dresses all those young girls swish around in. It should be as crisp and as fresh as the snow outside.
And for some – the lucky few – it is magical. It might well be the “best night of their life”, or, at any rate, “the best night of high school”.
But for others it is not. For others – the quiet few, the wallflowers, the unlucky ones – it is a night of great anxiety. And why? It shouldn’t be. It should be a night where every girl feels like a Disney Princess. But the prospect of having to find a date, getting rejected, having to find an expensive dress… Makes what should be a work of Walt Disney, into a work of Stephen King.
At first I was quite looking forward to it.
I mean, who wouldn’t be?
Spending hours traipsing through department stores and clothing websites looking for that perfect dress. I was quite enjoying myself. Walking into that department store, confident, grabbing that beautiful piece of clothing and actually PUTTING IT ON, unlike before. And alright, maybe when I put that dress on, I really didn’t look like a Jane Austen heroine. But who cared? I had another five hundred dresses to choose from. Surely one would meet my needs.
But, after a glorious month of shameless consumerism, I was put into reality. I was walking along the corridor with a friend, when she posed me the question:
“Who are you taking to the ball?”
Up until then, I had been unaware that I needed to take anyone.
“What? Can’t I just go by myself?”
“All the dances – they’re partner dances. You could go by yourself, but you’d look a bit stupid holding hands with thin air.”
And with that, my hopes of becoming Cinderella were shattered.
I am not popular.
Usually this doesn’t bother me. I mean, I certainly wouldn’t have done so well in my exams if I was. I’m a busy enough person as it is, without having to worry about having to keep up a hectic social and love life.
But sometimes, a bit of popularity would have come in useful. Like now.
Suddenly, whenever I stepped into the common room, a girl was getting “promposed” to. Some cute guy would bring in roses and get down on one knee, to propose to the “love of his life”.
And okay, I’ll be honest – that cheesy tradition did make me gag. But a part of me wouldn’t have minded, as it would have saved me a lot of embarrassment later.
But I remained hopeful.
Now, in many ways, I am much like my idol, Hermione Granger. Both bookish, both live in the library. We both even look similar. And as I could remember, at the Yuleball, she was asked out by an International Quidditch player.
I had sudden visions of the same thing happening to me.
Some hot guy would ask me out. He’d be smart, sporty, but above all – unlike many in his group – kind. It would be the guy every girl wished for. The one that had been dating our school’s Regina George on-and-off for years.
I’d be studying in the Library, alone. And suddenly I’d look up to see him watching me. And then he would walk over. His usual confidence would be gone, and suddenly he would be nervous. (Nervous because of my beautiful presence, of course.)
“Will you come to the ball with me?”
And that would be that.
So for those two weeks while the whole year group was getting asked, this vision clouded my dreams. My whole experience of love has been from watching rom-coms, so what else could I think?
However, in that time, I also did some reading online. Read similar cases of girls like me – shy bookworms – getting hit with reality. Like me they had also dreamed for a similar romance, for their lives to turn into something from a book.
And it had not happened.
Those who went to the ball ended up hating it. Some actually did enjoy it, but many, many naive bitches like myself – did not.
And that is why school dances are so bad.
Because I just think it so old-fashioned, so stupid, that us 16 and 17 year olds are being forced to find a date. Because at my school, I bet I’m not the only one struggling. But I just don’t know it. Because, when anyone asks me about the ball, I reply cheerfully:
“Oh yeah, not quite got my dress yet! Ahahaha, I’ll leave it to the week before. My budget is going to be under a hundred.”
And other sufferers probably answer in the same, don’t-care attitude.
“Under a hundred?” the girl I’m talking to asks, clearly confused: “Can you get a good dress for that?”
I laugh, thinking that this is a joke question. It is not.
“You know Harriet’s dress costs more than a thousand?”
And that, my dears, is another problem. The fact that the whole “buying a dress” thing becomes such a competition. The more expensive a dress, the more attractive you are.
All in all, something needs to be done about this whole school dance situation. I know, to the teachers, it must seem like a treat for us students. But really it’s just a stress. A stress we could do without, when we are already stressing about that mountain of homework and that argument we had with our parents and that History essay we handed in that only got 15/30.
And the peer pressure to go is just so immense. When every class you walk into, people are talking about it, some of us are left trapped, wondering –
What do we do?
A) Ask out a guy – any guy – and hope he says yes? (But what if he says no?)
B) Go with a friend? (But what if your friends all have partners? What do you do then? You can’t exactly expect them to give up their partners and sacrifice their happiness for you – the loser who couldn’t get a date.)
C) Go by yourself (At any rate, spending two hours holding hands with thin air would be a great anecdote to tell the Grandchildren. If there are any.)
D) Don’t go at all. (And, in the months leading up to the ball, face those pitying looks. “She’s not going because no one asked her, poor dear.” “She’s not going because though she asked out all these guys, they all rejected her.”)
All I can say now – good luck to all of you who do have upcoming balls and homecomings and proms. I hope if you do go, you have an amazing time.
And if you don’t, don’t panic – there are plenty of girls and guys out there in the same situation as you. You are not alone. And those guys, those girls who rejected you – might just be regretting this decision in twenty years time. Because when you turn up at that school reunion oozing success – they will so wish they’d asked you. But they didn’t. And while your fellow classmates fretted about finding a partner and all that, you – an independant 21st century character – focused on your studies. And you worked and worked and worked and worked. And here you are.
Your time will come eventually. Just have patience.