I woke up that morning with an air of expectancy all around me. It had been years since I’d made it home during Mardi Gras, and that night, I would be attending one of the famed balls along with my mom and some of my other family members. I rose out of bed with an extra pep in my step, made sure to lay out the dress I was wearing that night (a floor length cobalt blue gown that cinched at my midsection and flowed downwards with such ease), and of course, pulled out the heels that would accent my outfit. Sure, I had my mask and jewelry as well, but c’mon – this was definitely going to be all about the shoes.
When it came time to get ready, I carefully put my dress on, took my pin curls down, meticulously applied my make-up and then stepped into quite possibly, one of my favorite stilettos ever. These crystal sequined shoes made just the right statement. You could see the sparkle of the crystals from the front and the shine of the gold plated heel from the back. They were, to put it in one word, heavenly.
Now, unfortunately, they weren’t the best feeling shoes with their 5 inch stiletto and barely a platform style, but at that moment – it didn’t matter. I hadn’t been to a Mardi Gras ball since I was 17, and on this night, I wanted to be sure that I would sparkle and shine. As a bonus, I also knew that at midnight, my boyfriend would be coming to pick me up from the ball so that we could spend the rest of the night together.
It was like my own little version of Cinderella coming true! Except, I didn’t have the ugly stepsisters and stepmother trying to make my ball experience a downer and midnight would be when I got to spend time with my prince, instead of the other way around.
Before we left the house, we all checked each other out. Oh yea, we were fly. My mom stood 5’9, with her black and gold gown flowing to the ground, slightly tickling the kitten heels she had underneath. And the rest of my family looked just as good and debonair with their suits and gowns. Right before we walked out of the door, I slid on my mink coat and picked up my mask, and with that, we made our way to the New Orleans Convention Center.
At the ball, all you could see were beads and masks, confetti and doubloons, massive spreads of food and liquor abound, happy faces and folks just waiting for the parade to enter in. Everyone smiled and drank, taking in the moments of revelry and enjoying the debaucherous feeling of being alive. We were in New Orleans during Carnival after all, so there was nothing to do but to live it up.
There was dancing and drunk singing, loud laughter and complete disregard for everything outside of those four walls. At least for everyone but me. Sure, I was having a blast (more than a blast, really), but I’d also silently begun my countdown to midnight. While for most people, the ball wouldn’t be over until about 4 am, I was looking forward to my shortened experience.
As the floats entered in and the people at the ball were plastered with beads and trinkets coming down upon them as if they were falling from the sky, I was dreaming of the moment he would see me walk out those doors and his breath would be caught somewhere deep in his throat. My mom could sense my excitement as well, as she kept saying to me – “He’s going to be blown away when he sees you tonight. You are absolutely stunning.” Nothing like a confidence boost from your mom, right?
But since I still had another two hours left before that would happen, I decided to lose myself in the fun that was surrounding me. I drank the champagne and became the one making the loud sounds of laughter, participating in the scene that was a Mardi Gras ball. No longer an onlooker, I was now the one dancing and tipsy singing and calling out to the float riders to ‘throw me something mister!’ I was the one enjoying everything within these four walls.
And then at 11:50, I stopped and began to prepare myself for midnight. We’d already talked about how he would meet me in front at that time, so there was no need to check in, but I took my phone out of my purse anyway – you know, just in case. I kissed my family goodbye, slid my coat back on, and made my way to the front door. Midnight would soon be here.
But after 20 minutes of still no prince, I was beginning to worry. He hadn’t called or picked up the phone when I called. He hadn’t shown up when he said he would. He hadn’t even texted to let me know if something had changed. Finally, at 12:45, my phone rang. It was him, saying that he wasn’t coming. That he’d gone by a friend’s house to hang out instead. That he was sorry he didn’t say something earlier. That… honestly, the rest of what he said really didn’t matter anymore. I hung up the phone, shell shocked, not quite sure what had just happened and dejected that I would now have to walk back into the ball and admit to everyone that I’d never left. Disappointed in the knowledge that this was surely the end for us.
I walked back in to everyone’s surprise, making the statement entrance I’d intended for earlier in the evening, my shoes sparkling even while the light in my eyes dimmed. There I was – Cinderella. Stood up at midnight. It was surely a sight to see. When I arrived back at our table, I quietly slid off the heels that had now become constricting to my feet and exchanged them for my more comfy ballet slippers. It was no need to keep playing the part now. The ball was over.
PS: Happy early Fat Tuesday folks! And be sure to enjoy tomorrow to the fullest!