I had never worn a tuxedo prior to a week ago. I don't take any particular pride in that fact, one way or the other. When I got married I married a very sensible Welsh woman who did not believe in spending money we didn't have. Since at the time we got married we barely had two nickels to rub together we agreed to have a small wedding party and to wear the nicest clothing we already owned to our wedding. Everything went just fine and we are still married to boot.
About a month ago a businessman that I work for offered me a strange proposition. I have been cleaning this company's offices for several years now and this generous man has given me many things over the years but nothing quite like what he offered that day. He offered to give me and my wife an all expenses paid evening at a debutante ball. Not even knowing what a debutante was I had to tell him I would think about it and get back to him. I rushed home and asked my wife what a debutante was and why I might want to attend a ball with them. She got a good laugh out of that.
As we explored the offer we discovered that the event was called Le Bal de Ballet and it is "an elegant and enchanted evening, and the signature fundraiser of Denver
Ballet Guild. In order to support Denver Ballet Guild’s dance outreach
programs, Le Bal de Ballet was introduced in 1969. The program
presented young ladies from Denver area families to Denver society.
Then in 1988, young men were added and introduced as Young Men of
Distinction. Still carrying on this great tradition, young men and
women are honored in their senior year of high school for their
achievements in leadership, academics, community service, sports and
participation in the arts." As it turned out the man's son was a high school senior and a "Man of Distinction." He had purchased a table in support of the Colorado Ballet and his son. He was asking for our help to fill out the table. We gladly obliged.
The plan was to go to the reception for the debutantes and their escorts followed by a dinner and dancing until the wee hours of the morning. Since this was a black tie affair the men were required to wear tuxedos. My benefactor generously paid for my tuxedo rental, which cost more than the suit I was married in, as I picked up my tuxedo package and prepared for the evening. My wife looked stunning, she always does, in her glamorous evening gown, also paid for by our benefactor. I am told I cleaned up pretty well myself after I figured out how to install the studs on the shirt and the cufflinks on the shirt cuffs. Fortunately the bow tie was a clip on and I was spared the indignity of spending hours searching the internet for directions on how to tie a bow tie. The shoes were the shiniest things I have ever seen in my life. I expected them to be terribly uncomfortable to wear but they fit well and didn't hurt my tender Welsh feet one lick. We hopped into our 2004 Toyota Corolla and headed downtown to the Sheraton ballroom for the evening.
I had planned on using valet parking since it was raining lightly and my wife was not up for a mile or so walk in high heels from the usual parking lot I use when I go downtown. It is far enough away from downtown to be cheap and also far enough away to count as my aerobic exercise for the day. Much to my surprise I discovered that the valet parking was closed. I dropped off my wife at the entrance and circled around downtown for about an hour looking for cheap parking. I later learned that the valet was closed because the debutantes were being shuttled from the building that houses the ballet to the ballroom in horse drawn carriages. They were using up the valet space. Good for them, I thought.
We gathered at the ballroom and, after sipping cocktails with the other participants and generally milling about like rich people are frequently portrayed doing in the movies, we were granted access to the dining and dance hall. After we were seated the Bels de Ballet arrived, each escorted by their fathers. After that the Men of Distinction were introduced, each escorted by their mothers. After all of the debs and men had been introduced they gathered on the dance floor and the band struck up a waltz. Apparently all debutantes and their parents know how to waltz. It was really quite amazing sitting there watching a hundred or so people moving in perfect harmony with the music. It reminded me of many other scenes in the movies where everyone is moving in perfect harmony. The fathers looked very proud of their daughters and I could see how such an event could be quite memorable for those who engaged in it. Unfortunately that was the last pleasant moment of the evening.
After the waltz everyone took their seats and it was time to eat. While waiting for the waiter to serve our table I noticed two Men of Distinction sitting at a table across from me. They were both handsome young men and they were holding hands under the table. I am sure they were trying to be clandestine about it but it was more than I wanted to see. Why did they have to ruin the evening, especially while acting as escorts to the Belles, by expressing their homosexuality in a public fashion? I turned away and faced the wall instead.
As the evening wore on things got a bit rowdier. The older folks filed out the back of the ballroom while the younger folks began to dance a bit more frenetically. My wife and I did not dance. The band did not play a single Welsh tune and I did not have the resources to bribe the band leader so we sat and chatted, while drinking some very good wine and eating some very tasty deserts, while the dancing continued. It was then we noticed a disturbing pattern of behavior. Many of the Belles were going from table to table, where the patrons had already left for the evening, and were gathering up unfinished wine bottles and drinking them to the dregs. By the end of the evening many of the debutantes were noticeably intoxicated. Many of them had to be helped from the ballroom and into the elevator where they could go up to their room and sleep it off overnight. It was all terribly depressing. What had started as a glamorous evening had degenerated into a drunken homosexual orgy. As we drove home we made a mental note to politely decline the offer if it was even granted to us again. The whole thing was just too painful and sad to watch.