Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Formal Night: A Love / Hate Relationship

One of the things I love most about cruising is the formal nights! To me it’s like playing dress up just as I did when I was a child. What woman doesn’t feel alluring wearing a long dress that gracefully sweeps slightly above the ground as she walks? Or that feeling of being so incredibly irresistible in that sexy little black number that hugs your body in all the right places! You carefully select a little beaded purse and a pair of strappy heels that are higher than you would ordinarily wear, but they’re oh so perfect. It’s a chance to pile your hair atop your head with wispy tendrils framing your face. You look absolutely amazing! But it’s not just about the ladies. What woman can resist a man in a suit, or better yet, a tuxedo? So debonair! Is it possible that he’s smarter, funnier, sexier, when he’s all dressed up? Makes you want to keep your arm linked with his….maybe a bit possessively? And then there are the children…little prince and princesses dressed in their finery! It is a fairy tale evening! How lucky that the ship has photographers on every deck to capture the magic of such an evening….

One of the things I hate most about cruising is the formal nights! Months before the cruise the feeling of dread overwhelms me as I go shopping for a new dress. There are racks and racks to choose from, but they’re all too big in the chest, too tight in the hips, too short for my chunky legs, and why oh why are they all black???? I hate wearing black! Eventually I find a dress and shoes, but nobody will mistake me for Cinderella. My hair is too short to be glamorous and I wonder if a rhinestone clip would help. My husband does not own a tux. He last bought a suit in 1999 and has gained 10 pounds since. My teenage son is growing by leaps and bounds and I refuse to buy him something that he’ll wear only one evening. Thank goodness the cruise line solves those problems for me. They will rent tuxedos, including shoes, onboard.

“The Night” arrives and my family joins the hundreds of other people that are milling around the public areas of this beautiful ship. I lose my individuality in a sea of black dresses. I glance at my “boys” and feel my heart swell with love. I wanted to bring my camera but my silly little evening bag barely holds my key card and a tissue. I link arms with my husband… because if I don’t I’ll surely fall. My feet are being brutally tortured with every step I take. My son is grumpy, swears he’s being strangled by the bow tie, and cannot deeply inhale because the cummerbund has restricted his diaphragm. To lighten up the mood, my husband begins to waddle and make penguin noises. By the time we take are places in front of the camera any discomfort is forgotten and we are all laughing. The photographer snaps a pretty picture of my perfect family, which I will frame and proudly display when I get home. I love cruise formal nights!

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