After spending the better part of the windy, wet day trying to protect my hair, I found myself changing into a formal dress (navy blue with lace print and peplum waist flap, for those who care) in the restroom of an after-school facility for children. The bathroom mirror only came up to my hips so I had to squat to touch up my make-up. Not that there was much to be done after a full day of teaching, weather and six-year olds.
I had been invited to a Maturitní Ples – the Czech version of high school prom, only multiplied by a thousand. It is a massive rite of passage ceremony that friends and family are invited to which lasts far into the night and is riddled with cultural traditions, local talent and Czech covers of popular American songs from the ‘80s and ‘90s.
Having never been to one, I was exceptionally nervous. So nervous that I didn’t even try to respond to the drunk guy on the metro who kept talking to me (I’m pretty sure he was interested in my nail polish, but it was hard to tell). I have never in my life ignored another human being so rudely, let alone passed up an opportunity to practice my Czech! But my stomach was in knots and there was nothing I could do.
Why? Because that’s always how I feel when I go to parties. Tis the fate of the socially awkward, super self-conscious. Are my shoes formal enough? Does my hair look like I walked here from Warsaw? Is this dress see-through? – where the heck is the lining on this thing??
Most party stories I don’t tell people because they don’t make me look very good or because I hope they’ll get more interesting with time (a few I don’t tell because I’d like to not be the sibling who pushes my mom into an early grave). But this story needs to be told because it was dazzling (not me, mind you. I was a mess. Sometimes I feel like a walking meme).