Tuesday, 5 March 2013

The Dinner Dance

Reinstating the ‘Business Wear’ section of his wardrobe after a two-year hiatus in the bottom of a plastic storage container – the cheapness of which was matched only by its fragility – The Spear has discovered that the first shirt he ever owned, ‘Old Navy Blue’, is still as fashionably relevant to him as the day he first wore it some 11 years ago.  He wore it to work today.

Whether this says more about the quality of the shirt, The Spear’s fashion sense, his stinginess or his apparent lack of muscular development since mid-adolescence, is entirely at the discretion of the reader.  One thing is for sure; it has outlasted many other shirts in The Spear’s repertoire of upper-body garments – and in style, mind you – since that fateful night in 2002 when it made its social debut.

The night in question is of particular interest to The Spear as it is one of a very select few for which his late-pubescent self made any type of reliable recording not soon thereafter.  What follows is a grammar-edited transcript of the recording made some two years after the event, with the names changed, of course.  May it be taken as an historic footnote in the life of Old Navy Blue, and as an example of the Juvenilia of The Spear in the long-forgotten year of 2004.

The Dinner Dance

‘The Dinner Dance’- oh what a name!  Eloquent, yet garishly plain.  In truth the name described it all; we ate dinner and then we danced.  I don’t know why we, as year ten louts, expected anything more from the evening, but expectations were rather high, and as is sometimes the case, high expectations give way to large disappointments.

At quarter to six that night, the whole one-hundred and thirty-eight of us were milling around the Smalltown Bowls Club, waiting for the doors to open.  That should have been our first indication of what was to come.  The Bowls Club had a notorious reputation, impressed upon us by the previous students who had attended this function the preceding year.  I, like many others, tried to pass off this criticism as mere cynicism, but even as I stood before that red-bricked, bar-windowed, two-storey, out-of-date building, I knew at least parts of it to be true.

When the doors finally did swing open, we were herded in - like so many cattle - to the main dining area, past the ancient fogies reminiscing about long-gone dances while passively playing the pokies, drinking and smoking.  A brief photograph session was then allowed before the night officially began, which instantly started off a chain-reaction of blinding flashes across the hall.  I found the time to pose in one with one of my partners (the girls outnumbered the boys), and then scanned the room for other possible ‘still memories’ with friends.  As usual, I had not brought a camera as the idea of saying “Smile guys!” was a little bit too feminine for my liking.

This, only being a quarter-formal occasion, called for the males to don a long-sleeve shirt, long pants and a tie.  The girls were merely required to wear something of a ‘suitable nature’, but, as with any congregation of the creative beings that we are, there were those who could simply not follow the dress code.

Males entered wearing short-sleeve shirts and no ties, while some of the ladies outfits were far from suitable.  Anybody would have thought the females were running a “Who can wear a dress that has the surface area of a fifty-cent coin?” contest.  This being said, the supposed contest was still greatly appreciated by the males present.

The evening officially started with the head boy and girl giving speeches to their ‘all adoring’ year-level, who mocked the male captain for his mis-quotation of the word ‘nibbles’ as ‘nipples’.  You would never have expected it to happen, but the laughter was akin to a jet-engine starting up; quiet and unnoticeable at first, but building up to a huge roar by the end.  I laughed so hard I was crying.  This was the highlight of the whole night for me.

Next, in true Smalltown style, came the dinner: The Buffet from Hell.  The potato was aridly dry; the peas tasted like fish; the fish tasted like beef, and the beef tasted like peas.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if they had come in a ‘Beef, Fish, Peas Mix’ container.  The only object I found edible on the whole forsaken menu was the bread roll.  Throughout the dining assembly many of the plates remained untouched, but we knew the principal would comment on how good the food was next week.

It was now time for the set dance.  And we thought the food was bad!  Seventy-five people compacted on a 10m by 5m dance-floor is a recipe for disaster no matter where you come from.  The close proximity of the couples made for a pathetic version of the real dance.  Aside from being kicked by other would-be dancers in the kick manoeuvre, it was fairly impossible to dance the full movements because of the lack of space.  This resulted in us looking like a bunch of seventy year old retired couples who could no-longer be bothered doing the dance with coordination or grace.

With the rest of the night ahead of us after the hopeless required dance, a more suitable atmosphere emerged; one filled with dancing and drinking (by teachers).  My inability to dance made way for such out-of-style moves like ‘The Monkey’, ‘The Robot’ and ‘The Worm’.  Once I had finished retarding myself as the unco-robot-worm-monkey, the night was over.  One second it is “Enjoy your evening,” and the next it is “Leave or else you are suspended.”  It was now time for us to exit the hall and begin searching through the throng for our parents.

This night taught me a valuable lesson: to never have high expectations.  If I go into things with low expectations and they are not met, I will be pleasantly surprised, but if they are met, at least I would have been expecting it.

And the pre-emptive pessimism of The Spear, like Old Navy Blue, lives on to this day.

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