The day had finally arrived
Sporting a Black Sambucca hangover from my over-exuberance at the Friday night dinner, I napped my way through the morning ’til it was time to have my nails done. Bolstered by my experiences on the previous evening when the girl at the salon asked why I was having my nails done I told her the truth. She was intrigued and did a stellar French polish on my fingers and toes.
While I was trying to have (another) rest the room phone rang and I was told there was a package waiting in reception. When I retrieved it I saw it was a beautiful orchid corsage sent from some of my best friends back in Melbourne. This was the second time I had really cried on this trip so far.
It was soon time to have my make up done so I showered and shaved (again), slipped on a lace bodysuit, loose cardigan and a denim skirt and headed down the lift to where they were set up. This time leaving the room there were a few flutters but no gut wrenching fear. The make up artist gave me a real red carpet look with gorgeous smokey eyes. My long journey that had started all those months ago was almost finished.
My wife was running a little late so by the time she returned to our room my corset was laced, dress zipped, wig donned and accessories applied. When she saw me it was her turn to cry as she gushed about how beautiful I looked. I could not have felt more confident and loved at that moment.
Taking my newly enhanced confidence for a spin I decided to head down to the pre-ball drinks while my wife finished getting ready. As the lift opened on my floor I saw there was a father and his teenage daughter already in there. I strode in and checked that the Lobby had been selected. The father recoiled from me into the corner (maybe I was a little intimidating standing 6’6″ in my heels) and just as I was trying to work out how to react to that the daughter smiled at me and said “That’s a gorgeous dress. It really suits you”. Wow!!!
I glided out of the lift to the bar and really understood the saying ‘Strength in numbers’. There were girls and their partners everywhere. The tables had been turned as the regular hotel guests shuffled uncomfortably in their seats and furtively glanced around. I had found my tribe and they were beautiful.
My wife was not far behind and as we were sipping champagne and chatting to the girls I’d met at the Friday dinner, her best friend arrived. This was her first time meeting Sarah. She beamed a smile at me and raced over to give me a hug. My night was complete and the Ball hadn’t even started yet! My entourage of two had increased in size as I made new friends but rather than the crutch I thought I needed they became my partners in crime as we squeezed every bit of fun we could out of the evening.
The Ball commenced and it passed in a blur. The string quartet. The speeches. The lamb or the salmon. The bottles of wine. The opera singer (not a typo and she was amazing). The chats around the table. The band and the dancing. Oh the dancing! It wasn’t quite a Disco Inferno but I don’t think we missed a song.
Towards the end of the evening a call was put out for any girl wanting to be in the running for ‘Princess of the Ball” to head to the dance floor. Looking around the room I didn’t think I had a chance but if the previous 24 hours and taught me anything it’s that it is worth taking chances. As the other 30 odd girls paraded around, I shimmied along to ABBA’s Waterloo (my favourite of their songs). Almost oblivious to what was going on around me, they made the announcement and all eyes turned to me.
I WAS PRINCESS OF THE BALL!
They placed a tiara on my head, slipped on a sash (automatically becoming two of my proudest possessions) and gave me a bouquet of flowers. Once the shock subsided and I had dabbed the tears from my eyes (for third time) I couldn’t stop grinning. Miss World eat your heart out!!
Needless to say the Ball ended but the celebrations continued in the bar till the wee hours of the morning. I am already planning my outfit for next year to see if I can retain my crown. But I’m also hoping to spend a lot more time as Sarah out and about before then. I think I’ll just take a chance.