Full Circle

Sometimes it seems as if, as we age, we come full circle, right back to where we started from.

Last night we attended the college Christmas celebration, a formal, semi-formal dinner and dance held every year for as long as the college has existed – almost 120 years. It was a cold winter night – clear skies and sparkling stars. Perfect for a winter ball and watching the students was like taking a trip back through time.

Some of the young women wore hugely voluminous gowns that would have done Scarlett proud while others looked svelte and sophisticated in sexy sheaths and bare shoulders. Some were elegantly thin, while others resembled brightly colored marshmallows. There was every color from bright reds to shy pastels that looked like the icing on petit fours.

The young men looked like young men have always looked at high school and college dances. Some were dressed like Sean Connery as 007 while others looked liked they were attending their own lynching. In the cloak room, they helped their dates off with their wraps – some with practiced aplomb while others looked like they had never before seen a coat hangar. We older folks watched the interaction of the young couples with everything from wistful nostalgia to little more than indifference but many of us commented that the women must be freezing in their formal gowns.

Then, a young woman in a lovely yellow gown caught my eye. The dress had a tight bodice and tiny straps over her bare shoulders. The skirt was full and seemed to float around her legs. Her date was wearing a black shirt to match his jacket and pants and yellow tie to coordinate with her dress. He was sweetly attentive and they had that look that couples have when they’re first getting to know each other. Or perhaps I misread their body language completely but that’s not what I want to tell you about.

He walked her over to a couch and, though I could not hear them, it looked as though he was inviting her to sit down while he went for refreshments. She smiled, perched on the arm of the couch and off he went, into the fray, looking for such things as sliced smoked salmon and, amazingly, corn chips.

And, then I saw it. Under her beautiful yellow gown, she was wearing frayed blue jeans and high top basketball shoes. I almost fell off the couch where my own husband had left me to go hunting for food and drink.

In my day, I would have cheerfully frozen to death rather than wear the equivalent of long johns under a formal gown.

But, no uncomfortable panty hose for this young girl in the yellow dress. No spike heels to teeter-totter on the ice outside. Nope. She was happy and comfortable and looked like a million bucks.

You go girl, I thought, and smiled.

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