Friday, November 23, 2007

Formally Speaking

It's school formal time in the land down under. This is a weird phenomenon which didn't quite exist when I was a school leaver but now it has a life of its own. When I was a girl, there was one school formal. It marked the right of passage from year 12 (6th form in my day) into the wide world. It was usually themed and there was no compulsion to have a 'partner', just attend, have a soft drink, chippies and dinner in the local Community Hall, a few speeches a bit of a dance. I made mine in a borrowed Sailor's Outfit to match the boyf's . . not quite your feminine icon but the trousers were comfy. Then an after party where we smooched to Led Zeppelin or Earth Wind and Fire or had a spliff in the corner whilst chilling to Dark Side of the Moon or Smokey Mountain Way. Revelry was followed by a long drive to Palm Beach the next day to sleep and recover.

When my kids were in their mid school years - year 10 to be specific, the formal is a big thing. It's like a bloody Debutante's Ball. Black tie and long dresses. Hair is professionally coloured and coiffed, make-up professionally done, months are spent planning the outfitand 'the look'. I had to work really hard on DrummerBoy to convince him that wearing a bright blue suit would make him look like Dick Tracey's alter ego and that a stylish black suit with an uber flashy waistcoat might be a better choice but at least with him, the cost was mitigated by a hired item. All we had to purchase was the shirt and a nice pair of shoes which incidentally were never worn again!

ClareBear was more of a challenge as we scoured shopping centres from Penrith to Double Bay looking for something different. She didn't want to look like a merangue or have one of those stiff satin hired jobs. After an exhausting ordeal we finally settled on a pretty bright pink chiffony bias cut shoestring with sparkly Jimmy Chu style strappies.

Then there's the vehicles - the mode of transport to take you to the formal had to be weird and wonderful - a fire engine, police car, tank or at the very least something vintage or veteran. The arrival at the venue of choice (which in itself was always somewhere posh) was very, very important. Adam chose vintage, Clare - sirens and a police escort - someone's dad would be in trouble! Yep,they were real police cars!

Year 12 is a far more sedate affair. More of a cocktail do where the kids dine in front of the parents' shared tables of 8 at the back. I didn't attend either of my children's Year 12 formals for that reason. What's the point of me sitting next to some parent I've never met whilst my kids and their partners are waaaaaay over there having fun and not really caring whether I was there or not. Then I have to take the steak because there are only two menu choices served alternately, aeroplane style. The person next to me doesn't eat red meat and I really wanted the Chicken Kiev. Formal speeches, formal meal. Lots of sucking up to teachers and a few awards then the brats are set free on the world. Strip into their beach gear and lob on some unsuspecting parent's premises to party hard while we all go home and lament our lost youth.

Now the coup de gras . . . Whilst prattling in the quadrangle at work today as we admin girly swats often do . . .I discovered that there are now three series of formals attended by Australian school children. Year 10 and 12 we've covered . . . University leaving? Nope, they're way over that formal stuff by their early 20's . . .guess, go on . . .Year six! Yep, last year of primary school. They're now hiring suits, getting their hair and make-up done, even choosing novelty transport. The parents have to learn a special dance and the night begins to cost. Instead of the old bottle of red pop and a packet of crisps, it's now a catered affair, a date necessary, a corsage a must . . . I dunno, what's the world coming to . . .next thing you know there will be Kindy Formals, Day Care Debs or God forbid a passing out parade for newborns . . .if so, just make sure you point the camera the other way please!


Anonymous said...

Baino. I feel like bursting out crying now. We are going through BOTH the Year 6 and Year 10 formals RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!!

I really do feel like sobbing ...

Baino said...

Ahhh don't petal. It's all part of the ritual. I'm a pragmatic type and an ardent cynic. As long as the kids enjoy it. At least you have boys, they're much cheaper! ClareBear's cummupence came when our new puppy at the time, chewed her $300 shoes! Fortunately, after the event - one wear then dog toy! It's all about the 'after party'. Mind you year six should be pretty safe,I mean how high can you get on red cordial . . .ummm don't answer that! Chin up .. parental calm and all that!

Grannymar said...

For once in my life I am glad to be old and past all that fuss.

Here things were much more low key. I did make Elly's outfit and drove her and her date to the hotel. Next time I saw them was about mid afternoon next day.

nonny said...

It's getting a bit mental over here now as well some little nippers even graduate from play schools, cap and gown malarky. Ridiculous.

Baino said...

GM: Yes but you're a clever seamstress she must have been happy with the result to get you to make her wedding dress .. .didn't drive a limo then did you?

Nonny: Cap and gown! For goodness sake! What do they graduate in finger painting?

Grannymar said...

No Limmo driver me, though I once turned up at the airport to collect a friend in a chauffeur's hat. I even stitched a crest on it!

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad to see you Ozzies have the same ethics as us Paddies:

Any auld excuse for a piss-up!