The Ball

The Ball, Victor Gabriel Gilbert (1847-1933)
The Ball, Victor Gabriel Gilbert (1847-1933)

I am reading Emma by Jane Austen (not my first time through), and I am currently on the ball scene. Of course, it is a much smaller ball than this one, in a room of a village hotel, not this glimmering golden ballroom, but there are elements of all fancy get-togethers that are universal, don’t you think? I recall my school’s equivalent of prom (we called it the Junior-Senior banquet), and I remember certain impressions, which I imagine are present in both this scene and in Emma. I remember an element of unusually high spirits–tipsy on life, not drink. The way we all dressed made it seem like we were all playing dress-up. I guess we were, but I don’t think I was supposed to actually think that thought. I believe there are quite a few people who can dress fancy and feel natural in those clothes. The decorations felt fake, no matter how elegant they really were. The conversation tended toward the ridiculous, or else small-talk, which I don’t do well.

I’m finding out that I am not portraying balls and the like with fairness. I am only portraying my own inability to enjoy them to the fullest. I don’t think I can ever accept them for what they are. I like them far better in books and pictures. And myself in flannel shirt and jeans. I am certain if I were at a ball like this I’d be seated, playing with the fan in my lap, wondering how long I had to stay. Mr. Knightley might come up and politely offer to dance, but I’m afraid he would admit later to Emma that I was quite difficult to converse with. I haven’t an open nature, and he found himself wishing he was listening instead to talkative Miss Bates discuss her mother’s shawl and eyeglasses. 🙂 I do like Mr. Knightley, but I can’t imagine him liking me! I suppose that’s why I’m married to a man who talks a lot. I don’t have to.

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