By Danica Kreusch
In all honesty, there’s a part of me that has a flair for the dramatic. This delightfully dramatic whim, coupled by my cheesy, mushy love of romance is what created the first fantasies of what my matric dance would be like.
At one glance, I can fit into the role of the stereotypical teenage-movie heroine: I’m never in the spotlight, am comfortable in baggy jeans and Marvel-themed T-Shirts and I have a deep desire to woo the basketball captain into standing up to his friends so he can sing Breaking Free with me in front of the entire student body. Slight exaggeration aside, 18-year-old Dani couldn’t help but have great expectations of the night everybody made such a fuss about for years leading up to its actual happening.
If anything magical and movie-like could happen – if there was any chance of me being Cinderella – it would definitely happen at that ball.
Needless to say, the film of the night was bunted straight out of the romance category and into the comedy category about six months before the dance.
Devoid of any close man friends in town, let alone any boyfriend materials, it was my clever plan to take my “adopted brother” as my date. I knew him, I loved him for all his faults, and I knew he wouldn’t drop me at the last minute. Except then he did, because of some drama with his university and schedules, and my first inkling that this wasn’t going to go according to plan was born.
That right there is another show of my flair for drama – compared to a lot of my friends’ stories, my matric dance was an absolute fairy tale, breeze, walk in the park. I didn’t get phoned up three hours before said dance to be told I was suddenly date-less for the night. I didn’t accidentally get horrifying stains on my dress. My hairdresser didn’t mess up my hairdo. I didn’t get trapped in traffic travelling back from Cape Town.
I did, however, find myself tottering in kitten heels that were still too high for my barefoot-loving self, already late for pictures with the friends, having my dress fixed. I’d had it made for me by said adopted brother’s mother – and she’d done an exceptional job not getting exasperated with me as I enthusiastically asked her to do impossible things. But neither of us anticipated just how heavy the dress would be, and because it was a halterneck, something had to be done to make sure it wasn’t falling all over the place. Or, even more horrifyingly, pulling my strapless bra right off my body.
I’ve never been so grateful for safety pins in my entire life, even if I did get stuck a few times and even if I did walk into the planned photo shoot almost fifteen minutes late. Luckily, my friends were all as level-headed about the whole affair as I was, and while they’d splurged on making themselves look and feel good nobody had gone overboard. Thus the photo shoot was an affair done by one of the other parents, and not a paid professional who would have lost us money because of my lateness.
I still managed to get some photos in, made my mom cry a little bit in that way only mothers can, and just when I was thinking that at least all the drama was over – all the preparation had led to that moment, really, because nothing else could go wrong – I was handed a single red rose. And I remembered that I still had a really, really great guy as a date. And I had no idea how to relate to the male species.
The car ride to the school was peppered with more safety pin saviours making an appearance, and by the time we reached the gates a lot of magnet jokes had been made at my expense. Of course, arriving at the school stopped everything except dumb-faced awe: some people were nowhere close to as level headed as my friends and I. The setup was such that there was a crowd of people waiting outside, forming an aisle for the cars carrying the esteemed dance-goers. Said couple would get out the car, walk past the murmuring crowd, enter the building and then be taken to a catwalk that spanned the length of our hall. Said catwalk, made from precariously constructed wooden boards, cut through an assembled gathering of at least two hundred people, all of which had sharp eyes and sharper comments about everybody’s dress. When the catwalk trial was complete, you were able to gain your reward by entering the gymnasiam, where the dance was being held.
But first you had to complete the catwalk. And did I mention that I was not comfortable in heels? Getting out of my mom’s car – which looked slightly forlorn next to the shiny Jaguar before it and the honest-to-goodness parade float behind it – I promptly tripped and saved myself from falling on my ass only by impersonating a windmill. The crowd was amused. I was not.
Walking to the catwalk, being stabbed unkindly by one of my safetypin saviours that had come loose and was intent on punishing me like a moustache-twirling villain, the only thoughts in my head were that I was going to fall off that runway and become my tiny town’s next front page picture. Not exactly what I had in mind for fame. So, standing behind the curtain, I did the only thing I could think of – I snatched my date’s arm (hard, I might add), glared at him and demanded, “Don’t you let me fall.”
Looking back, it was a bit of an unfair responsibility to place on him. He was walking just fine, after all. But somehow we made it across the platform without any glitches. And we managed to do it before the loudspeakers started playing Justin Beiber, I might add delightedly. And that was my movie moment epiphany. I wasn’t Cinderella. And the day hadn’t gone bad enough to make me the next star on one of those funny video shows you can’t help but laugh at guiltily. But despite the normalcy, there was a lovely moral at the end to tie it all up.
I hadn’t fallen. Twelve years in school, and I was okay at the end of them. I’d be okay once it was all over, even if there was a metaphorical catwalk ahead of me. And the large reason for that were the people I clutched at and demanded not to let me fall. So that night became dedicated less to me and more to my friends – one last glorious hurrah where we could forget we’d need to be adults in a little while. And that’s the scene that the credits rolled on – all of my sisters, most of whom had been in baby group with me, dancing like crazy, convulsing mops to a song we barely knew.
(For pictures of the night, look here)