Words of Wisdom

Youth is wasted on the young.

Thursday, 3 January 2013

Closing Time: In Which The Dysfunctional Family Pulls Together For The Sake of the BA. Almost.

Occasionally I wish I could assign background music to blog posts. This track would be my choice now.

On the 11th of December the BA attended her last function as a student of St Saviour's College.

On the 12th of December she became an Old Scholar.

Her Dad and Stepmum flew over from Sydney for the occasion. There was much excitement. Having worked until 5.30pm that day and, given we were due at the function centre by 6.45pm, I flew into the house in a state of high anxiety to be confronted by these scenes:

 (She really liked her pockets).

After the obligatory photos the BA, her Dad and Stepmum headed off to have the group photo taken at the venue while the rest of us wrestled with our attire. Himself had to squeeze himself into an aged dinner suit coat and tie, Grandma and Grandad had it all sorted...and I had a complete hissyfit breakdown.

Interestingly, one of the things which has impacted upon my blogging this year is my midlife, torn tendon impacted, weight gain. Having been a consistent 53kg for a majority of my adult life, up to and including the aftermath of chidlbirth, I have been gradually stacking on weight since I turned 40. At 50 and running out of girl germs, I moved into yet another new dress size and a hitherto un-experienced inability to easily touch my toes.
Now don't get me wrong. I know that, for some of my friends, my plaintive wails of weight gain fall on intolerant ears. But it's all relative when an older counterpart looks like this:

and your own attempts to squeeze into something flattering render one desperate. After a small meltdown, my mother patted me on the back sufficiently to get me out of the door. Needless to say we were running late.

We arrived on the banks of the River Torrens and found Dad and Step-mum at a lovely alfresco bar, on the same level, but tucked in behind, the multi-entranced, multi-roomed Convention Centre.

Here is the BA's step-mother again, looking exceptionally beautiful and elegant, while Her Dad, in typically over effusive fashion, offered to buy us all champagne. I looked dubiously at my watch; considered our location relative to the entrance to the function centre and the complexity of the inner layout; and decided we probably shouldn't bother. Too late. We were all raising our glasses to our girl when my phone whistled a message:

     Typical, it's starting and you're the last ones here.

We all bolted down our drinks (I felt sorry for the boys as they had pints of beer....I'm pretty sure Himself was the only one who actually finished his in the 45secs we gave ourselves. Not sure if that's a good or bad thing) and flew to the nearby entrance, to find it locked.

There ensued a scene of typical family chaos, the kind you get when the family in question consists of two Principals, two ex-Principals, one ex-Dean of Science and a company director. Leadership flashed from person to person at the speed of light and the mob changed direction just as quickly. Not to sound my own horn here, but my move of asking a staff member from the bar to let us in, was an intelligent one, I thought. Shame her swipe card didn't work. In the end, another bar staff member ushered us through a hidden door and we followed the signs through lofty, glass corridors

 and up stairs (ok so we weren't on the right level) to the 'St Saviour's 2012 Graduation Ball' room. All the while the text messages flew backwards and forwards between the BA and I:

   We are here, the door was locked!
   The doors aren't locked! Come to the front entrance!
   We would if we could FIND it!!!!
   hkjluoijyufrtdrefgshdh!!!!!!!!!!!!!! You are hopeless!!!!!!!!!!!

Of course we got there in the end, only to find that our large group had been split across two tables! Two seats on one table and five on the other!! Now, how to work that one out given the dynamics of the group!!!????

In the midst of all this, Himself had been getting crabbier and crabbier. Not known for his patience, the events of the night had been stacking up against him. Let's start with the fact that he thought he'd attended her Graduation the previous week.

In its wisdom, St Saviour's has an end of year Graduation Mass in the last week of school, and then follows it up with a Ball the week after. Himself had been told about these two events, but in his very visual mind, he had merged them into one. One which, on the morning of the Grad Ball, he believed he had already attended.

Himself: What do you mean there's a Ball tonight?????
Me: The Grad Ball! You know, we've talked about this!
Himself: I thought that was last week!
Me: That was the Graduation Mass! What did you think I was making the dress for????
Himself: Huh. Well, I don't know...
Me: And anyway, Her Dad even said to you, 'see you next week'....
Himself: Well, do I have to go?

Of course, had the experience of the previous week been less traumatic, I probably would not have had to deal with all this angst. But having survived this other rather stressful occasion, Himself believed he had fulfilled his commitment to the BA's Graduation. Imagine his horror when he discovered (now hang on, I had hardly been hiding it from him...after all) that he had yet another event to attend. And this time in 'formal' attire! Add to that our late arrival and the fact that our party had been split, and you can imagine the state he was working himself into.

Given Himself's high dudgeon, I elected to stay at the table with him in the split table scenario. This could have meant that Himself and I sat at a table on our own whilst the BA and the rest of the family sat at the main table. It could have meant Mum and Dad being sectioned off onto the separate table, or Her Dad and Step Mum being separated from us. In the end we put the BA and her dad (who had travelled a long way to see her) on the smaller table and the rest of us sat together. It meant Her Dad and her Step Mum were separated, hardly an ideal situation, but Step Mum handled everything with her usual grace so we moved on to the first course.

Himself had steak which I thought would please him.
"How's your steak?" I inquired cheerfully.
"Average" came the curt response.
It was going to be a long night.

The BA wasn't that far away though. Here she is taken from my seat at my table.

(I often wonder whether the BA and her generation will look at photos like this and wonder what the h*** they were doing. But here it is for posterity!)

Fortunately there are others.

One of the key elements of the Graduation Ball is the act of being presented by your father to receive your Graduation Ring.

This is a hugely important moment in the life of any St Saviour's graduate. Unfortunately, (particularly as far as Himself was concerned) there were 84 Graduates. The BA was not amongst the first. A quick glance at Himself's visage was sufficient to convince me that he was not loving this process. Whereas my mother and I enjoyed hearing every girl's story, checking out her dress and wishing her well with heartfelt applause, Himself became more and more resentful. Well, it did take over an hour. Half way through he marched out for a cigar.

Once the presentations were over, the formal 'dance' part of the evening proceeded. This was the one thing Her Dad had been looking forward to for ages. When we separated in the third year of our marriage with the BA still just a positive result on a path test, he never believed he would be involved in her life to this extent. He was radiant, if intense.

As the mass of white satin, diamante and serious old serge processed around the floor, the MC asked people to remain seated so that everyone could see (bear in mind that there were 168 people on the dance floor!).  Himself prepped his fancy, schmancy camera, I got my PAS ready on video mode and the music began........ and 140 people leaped from their seats and rushed to the edge of the dance floor for a better look!

Himself was furious. I can't recall his exact words as he ranted at me, but they involved 'selfish a*******s', 'pathetic organisation' and a 'waste of a $100 ticket'. He stormed off again to attack yet another defenseless cigar whilst Dad and I were left to crawl (literally) through the ranks of spectators to try and get a glimpse of our two on the dance floor.
Eventually the dads dropped the daughters off in a long line in front of the stage and we had genuine photo opportunities.

Eventually, the BA raced over to us and asked that we come out to the 'photobooth' to have a formal family shot taken. 
"But I'm not part of the family," grumbled Himself, "I don't want to be in the photo."
He could not protest for long as the BA draped her arms around him and literally begged.
"Puh-leeeeeease Himself? I reeeeeeally want you to be in the photo. It's important to me!"
It's difficult to resist a line like that so he capitulated and followed us out to the foyer where the professional photographers were making money like a well oiled machine.

(Perhaps, in retrospect, that's what really annoyed him?)

Having joined a queue, we had been waiting a bare 5 minutes when Himself again flew into another rage.
"This is ridiculous having to wait like this! I don't want to do this!!"
He was halfway out of the area in high 'stalk' when I caught up with him and read him the riot act.
I got him back. He is smiling, but look at the body language!

Some of us managed to enjoy the rest of the night.

There was dancing, for many of us,

but in the end I suggested Himself take the aging parentals home whilst Her Dad, Step Mum and I finished the night off with pancakes.

He was delighted to comply.

On the 19th of December we received the news that our gal had finished her schooling in the top 10% of the state and was positioned well for entrance into the Uni course of her choice.

On around the 22nd of December, the Baby Angel's immune system collapsed under the weight of all her recent excitement and she was laid completely flat with suspected Glandular Fever (aka mono).

She is still resting up.


BrightenedBoy said...

You all look beautiful!

And commendations to you for having the grace to handle Himself with tact and patience. Not everyone would have been so restrained with him after that performance.

Arizaphale said...

Thanks BB. I did have to use some pretty strong language with him after the photo stalk off, but after 7 years of marriage, I am getting the hang of it. Funnily enough, when we finally got home he was installed back in front of his computer, happy as Larry as if the rest of the night had never happened. I think he knew he was in the wrong :-)

dawn marie giegerich said...

I know I am the new kid at the party but your tolerance with this Himself person must be a daily strain and stressor. Please tell me he is independently wealthy, a good toss in the sack and a chef extraordinaire in the kitchen to make all those tantrums bearable.

Arizaphale said...

Ummmmmm. Well, he's a good chef! Nah, seriously, he has the capacity to be delightful, is usually kind and has great integrity. But he is a Leo. Mostly roar. Very little bite :-)

dawn marie giegerich said...

So I'm curious, regarding your first marriage, who filed?

Arizaphale said...

Do you really have to ask? :-)

dawn marie giegerich said...

Sorry, my bad.
Getting to know you, as they say.

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Oh no! I'm sorry he couldn't get a hold of himself better. But glad that it looks like (most people) had a good time anyway. Good for BA for guilting him into the picture. It's only right that he be in it.