13 JAN - 2019
Now, when the word “ball” is used in that context, some people imagine something Cinderella-y. Elbow-length gloves. Pumpkin coaches.
Women waltzing with their dashing male suitors. But the kind of balls I’ve experienced have very little in common with the dazzling affairs from Disney movies.
Yes, guests are glamorously-dressed, but they don’t maintain an aura of elegance for long. Of course there is dancing. But that dancing better resembles a bunch of soccer hooligans chanting their team’s anthem than a ballroom waltz. And there is much, much more sparkling wine involved than is allowed in a G-rated animation.
I first got a taste for these kinds of events at uni, when some college or organisation would chuck on a ball every few weeks. As a tight-arsed student, my strategy was to make the most of the bar tab before it ran out, stocking up on as many glasses of cheap “champagne” as I could carry.
Apparently, my strategy hasn’t changed.
I’ve now learned that, no matter how mature I get, will always revert back to the stingy, pisswreck of my former self whenever presented with a bar tab scenario. I mean, I have a folder on my laptop containing tax receipts, divvied up into two sub-folders labelled “deductions” and “donations” and yet I still turn into that 18-year-old mess in an asymmetrical dress, terrified of the prospect of having to pay full price for a drink.
I won’t go into details of my night, but suffice to say there was a video of me belting out I Want It That Way in the foyer of a fancy, fancy hotel before interrupting myself by making a loud reference to the state of my big toenail.
To cut a sloppy story sort, I got to bed by 2am for a 6am start.
Amazingly, it only took three alarms to get me up later that morning. I put on shoes. I slopped on sunscreen. I even made it to the meeting point before everyone else on my team.
But I was not in a good way. I smelled like a second-hand gorilla’s armpit. I wore an expression like I’d just had a lobotomy. And my unfiltered public groans and whimpers meant people kept a safe distance from me, as it was clear I could blow at any moment.
I can’t recall many exact details from the run, as I assume it was so traumatic I blocked most of it from memory, but here’s a vague rundown ('run' not being the operative word) of my journey:
The first kilometre - my body was in a state of shock, still not entirely aware what was happening.
Two kilometres in, I was on the Harbour Bridge, distracted by my distain for the iconic piece of infrastructure. I was too busy thinking, “it’s not even that great, but” and judging people for stopping to take selfies to focus on the fact that I was jogging.
By the third kilometre, I became aware of how high-impact stomp dancing in platform heels can be and the effect it has on your joints.
Then I became aware of how unhappy my stomach felt. I could feel my leg muscles angrily protesting in support of my grumbling tum. My body was in full revolt, turning against me.
By the fifth kilometre, I was focused on trying to calm my stomach with the power of my mind, while scanning for a port-a-loo in case a violent ejection took place. I told myself that it was a mind over matter thing, but willpower is often overruled when your body decides to make an emergency evacuation.
In the sixth kilometre I was fuming that despite having run past people coming back the other way for ages, I hadn’t yet looped around. I began to despair at how much further I would have to go just to sit down.
It was around the seventh kilometre when I started asking myself the most important question a journalist can ask: why?
I got over the eight and ninth kilometre marks by sheer delusion.
Then, as the finish line approached, I told myself that I didn’t come all this way to conk out with 400m left to go. So I kept going.
And when I got over the line, I didn’t feel that bad. I actually remember feeling kind of good. By the end, I guess I had sweated out most of my toxins and sins. I was a clean slate – figuratively, of course - I reeked and had weird sticky patches all over my skin.
Then I went and got myself a recovery mojito.