"Every four years I warn starry-eyed rookies about the inaugural balls, and every four years they ignore my hard-earned advice. I feel like the mom who tells her lovesick teenage daughter, "Trust me, he's going to break your heart." Does the daughter listen? Of course not. She says, "But this one is different."Prior to last night, I had been to two inaugural balls and my heart was indeed broken with each one. Don't get me wrong, I loved getting dressed up--I purchased new long gowns and accessories for the inaugural ball I attended with some college friends in 1997 and for the "official" ball Abel and I attended in 2001 at which George W. and Laura made an appearance.
Each of those balls, however, confirmed Roberts' cautions as well as those noted in this article: long outdoor lines, horrors at the coat check, little-to-no food, long lines to purchase drink tickets then to secure actual drinks, no dancing and an absolute crush of people.
I snickered back in early January because I knew I wasn't going to succumb to the dream this year that "it will be different." I'd already decided we wouldn't be wasting our money on an inaugural ball.
But then, I got caught up in the excitement. Abel scored tickets through work (read: free for us!), we got a babysitter, I had a dress. We decided to go.
Don't get me wrong. I feel so lucky to have had the opportunity to go, to say "I was there." It was fun to get a dead-of-winter pedicure, to get dressed up, to stroll in with Abel (who looked so fantastic in his tux we need to figure out another opportunity for him to wear it soon!) and to celebrate this amazing time for our nation.
It was not fun to stand in a long line outside the ball with bare legs and very strappy sandals. It was not fun to walk about 100 yards to go to the bathroom at the Amtrak gate at Union Station with the hoards of train and Metro passengers coming into town for the festivities. It was not fun to wait forever to purchase tickets to purchase drinks--$7 for mixed drinks and $6 for wine. It was not fun to then stand in another long line to actually purchase the drinks. It was not fun to be in a crush of people the entire night and even have my foot rolled over by a suitcase (hello lady, really you needed to bring you suitcase into the black tie ball?).
It was fun to stand right next to George Lopez. It was fun to see Rosario Dawson and Rosie Perez. Apparently J-Lo, Marc Anthony, Shakira, David Archuleta and my cartoon-voice-crush, Wilmer Valderrama were there as well. (The true account is that we didn't lay eyes on these last few stars, but, you know, history gets, um, revised all the time....)
In truth, I've already forgotten the cold and the lines. And I quite clearly remember how nice Abel and I looked and that I got to see J-Lo and Wilmer in person.