I thought that this story deserved to be told separately.

One of my disappointments is that I never got to attend a prom in high school.  I love getting dressed up, and prom was a really big deal – even back in my day.  Although I will have to say that I don’t think the expenses were out of control, like they are now.

Much to my surprise, the March of Dimes gave me 2 tickets to their annual Gourmet Gala, because I had chaired their WalkAmerica event.  The ticket values were $1,500 each.

My first objective was to find a suitable escort, since I was not dating anyone at that time.  I scoured our headquarters office, and headed into a single man’s office (Ben) to ask him.   We had, at least, met before.  I boldly asked him if he owned a tuxedo.  He said, “Well, actually, I need to buy a new one.  Why do you ask?”

I replied, “I have been given two,  $1,500 tickets to a dinner, and I am trying to find someone willing to attend.  I thought you might be a likely ‘tuxedo owner’ candidate.”  He said, “I’ll take you, if you’ll agree to go shopping with me for a new tux.”  I quickly said, “Deal.”

I did some “dream” shopping at Nieman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and other exclusive boutiques in Houston, hunting for the perfect outfit to wear.   It was fun to look, but way above my budget.

I finally found a small boutique that had dresses I hadn’t seen anywhere else.  I decided to wear a short cocktail dress.  I wanted to show off my silver glitter high heels.  I wish could find a picture of that dress – it was baby pink and silver.  The long-sleeved top was fitted with a pink and silvery metallic knit and the bottom, from the dropped waist, had layers of baby pink ruffles.  Tasteful, but fun, flirty and unusual! I felt like a princess.

I also purchased silver glitzy costume jewelry (which I’m sure most people thought were diamonds! LOL!) and a silver clutch handbag.

Ben and I went shopping, and he bought a black tuxedo.  Shopping with him didn’t take long…

I remember feeling like a million dollars when he came to pick me up that night.   He was suitably impressed.  As he opened the passenger-side of his car, he said, “Now if we can just fit you AND the dress into my car.”  I hadn’t known he had a sense of humor, but it was great to begin a somewhat awkward date with a good laugh.

We arrived at the Hyatt Regency and went into a beautifully-decorated, fantasy ballroom.

I enjoyed and admired what the other females at this event wore – I recognized some of them from my shopping.   One woman was carrying a very small, jeweled handbag on a chain that I had seen for $2,500 at Nieman Marcus.

In the ladies’ lounge, while I was standing at the mirror, applying fresh lipstick, one of the ladies said to me, “You look wonderful.  I wish I had the courage to have worn a short dress like that.”  I thought that was a very nice compliment.  And, come to think of it, I was wearing one of the few non-floor-length gowns.

There were gourmet tasting booths, positioned around the edges of the ballroom.  Local and national celebrities hosted each booth.  I even met Alex Trebek that night.   So that was the appetizer course – tasting all of the exotic food samples.

Then we sat down for a 5-course meal.  There were lots of extraordinary raffle prizes, strategically placed, near the center of the ballroom.  The only one I remember was the BMW.  I also remember that I didn’t win the BMW, or any other prize.

There was an excellent, live band for dancing.  Who knew that I had also invited a good dancer?

A truly first-class event.

I mentioned to Ben that balloons were one of my favorite things, because I thought they were so cheerful.  There were probably a hundred balloon bouquets, that were part of the decorations.   And they were baby-pink-colored!

As we left the event, Ben grabbed one of the largest bunches of balloons for me.  I thought that was a grand, and endearing gesture.  Riding down the escalator with all those balloons was quite the picture.  But I thought I was going to collapse in laughter, when I saw him trying to get them out of the hotel, through the revolving door.  I don’t know how many times he had to go round and round, but I couldn’t even see him for the balloons.  I think that finally, a bell captain helped him.

We had a wonderful time, and Ben asked me to go to a club to extend the evening.  I said, “Of course,” (even though we were REALLY dressed up.)  We were sitting at a table at the club, and Ben asked me if I minded if he removed his bow tie.  I said, “No, not at all.”  He was having trouble getting it off, so asked me to help.  I reached around his neck to unfasten it, and his vest fell onto the table.

I was embarrassed, but he rescued me by saying, “Gee, I had hoped you might want to take some of my clothes off, but I didn’t know you were going to do it in public.”  We both cracked up.

He, the perfect gentleman, took me home and bid me a good night.  We had had so much fun, partying and laughing together, but sadly, there was no romantic connection.

However, we became very good friends after that, and did lots of fun things together.

I finally made it to a prom…!!



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