When I was in high school I made a bucket list. This was before calling it a ‘bucket list’ became cool. Some things were pretty basic; get married (check), have a baby (check, check, check), learn to drive a stick (uncheck). Some were a little more far reaching; travel to every continent, learn to speak all of the romance languages (Latin, French, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese). But one was something that I’m sure at some point most girls held near and dear to their hearts; go to a ball.I’m not talking about prom where a bunch of horny teenagers get dressed up, try to sneak alcohol and hang out in the high school gym. A real ball. Like the annul Marine Corps Ball were a bunch of horny teenage Marines ask strippers to be their dates and then they try to sneak alcohol. No joke, the first ball I went to with my husband half of the dates were found at Toys Topless.
But the MC Ball is more than young Marines trying to impress chicks with their smokin’ hot dress blues. It’s a night imbued with tradition. And it is kind of a big deal.
Around this time of year I start seeing posts about the trouble finding the right dress, or complaints about the ticket price. You would be shocked at just how expensive this one night is. Dress, shoes, jewelry, make-up, hair, dry-cleaning his blues, new medals (these things are freaking spendy! You’d think if they earned the medal they wouldn’t have to pay for them.), and of course the tickets themselves. And that’s just the prep work.
Next you have to find a baby sitter. This part is brutal. Most military wives depended on other wives to act as babysitters for those rare occasions when they can escape their children (and I do mean rare, until my oldest was three years old the only times she was ever away from me were when we visited home and my mom watched her while we caught a movie, or when my mom came to visit and watch her while we went to the ball.) So on a night when all your friends are trying to ditch their kids too, it’s a race to get a dependable babysitter.
You have a teenager? Can they spell their name? Can they be trusted to get the kids out of the house in case of a fire? Great! What time will they be over? It’s going to cost HOW much? Do you accept kidneys?
Finally everything is in its place. You’re in your dress, your husband looks like a prince in his uniform, and it’s time to go to the ball. So let’s talk about behavior.
A friend of mine was annoyed that she had to attend a class on etiquette before this year’s ball. She has been a Marine wife for twenty years so she knows how to conduct herself at a function like this. Unfortunately many wives these days don’t have her class and common sense.
Instead of looking for a beautiful, romantic gown many now go for a different look. You know the one were the combined weight of their self-tanner and makeup is more than the material of their dress?
I don’t want to be catty. I truly think women get blasted enough, that we should spend more of our time lifting up other women, not dragging them down with nasty comments, but dang. Really? Yes military life is stressful, and yes this is often a couples only date all year long. It is a cause for celebration and relaxation. But it is still a work function. Not the time or place to audition for girls gone wild.
This means, in my opinion, that it is not okay wear something that is too small for my five year old to fit into. It is not okay to talk, text and be disruptive through the ceremony portion of the night. It is not okay to make-out over the salad. It is defiantly not okay to get completely shitfaced and knock the CO’s teenage daughter over a chair (yes this really happened).
Please don’t come up to my husband in a drunken haze asking to get your picture with him, just to spill your drink on his uniform. Please do not chew me out because my husband kept yours working late last week. Don’t be a harpy to the staff.
Don’t pick a fight, or spend the night barfing in the bathroom. And please, please, please, do not drive drunk. You are smart enough to know it’s dangerous. Not just because of the risk of a wreck, but when you get caught, and my husband gets a call at 3am, he is not going to be a happy man.
This should be a fun night. You get to dress up, have adult conversations and be a part of something most others will never have a chance to experience.
Enjoy the location. I’ve been to some pretty cool balls. One held at a beautiful hotel on the Pudget Sound, one on the USS Missouri floating on Pearl Harbor, and the last one was at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
Offer to buy a drink for your (or your husbands) superiors. Laugh when you hear the youngest Marine in attendance was born in 1993 (Damn, I feel old). Enjoy a meal that you didn’t have to prepare, and don’t have to clean up.
Stop by the table left empty in honor of all the lost Marines.
Dance and be happy.
Just remember when the night is over and your husband goes back to work the next day, each and every one of his coworkers will be talking about the girl who got drunk and booed in the middle of the Commandant’s speech. Don’t be that girl.