For those of my readers who are not South Africans, nor do they have or have had any contact with a South African there are some things that one must know about our culture. Apart from having words which have no other equivalent in any other language, one must understand that when one is in their final year of high school (termed 'matric'), one of the ways in which one is permitted to celebrate the finality of the year is through a matric dance. Basically the same as a prom, or a farewell dance for the final year, this is an event which all South African youths must enjoy/endure (depending on your stance) as a rite of passage into the final exams and eventually, the rest of your life. I am one of those that endured.
My cynical view of the event is purely to be blamed on women. For reasons which, after years of contemplation, are only beginning to become apparent to me (and of course through various explanations from the women in my life - thanks guys!) women tend to become possessed by 'the spirit of the matric dance'. This basically means that, much like most things female, logic gets tossed out of the window, along with a sense of rationality and they become hyper-sensitive, obsessive lunatics who place the event on a pedestal which would make the colossus look like a Lego man. They get themselves so hyped up about this evening and spend thousands (if they have any say in the matter) of their parents monies on clothes, hair and make-up, only to realise, halfway through the evening that they really can't dance in stilettos and that the pain from their feet is in fact very real. This is usually accompanied by much complaining to the partner...
So, being a person who cares about those who I surround myself with, I always feel that the event practically is designed to disappoint, of which I do not approve.
So, when I was invited to go to matric dance by someone from the zoo, I was not all that happy about the idea. The enormous age gap aside, I did agree to it, knowing that the person in question had been trying to find a date, but had failed to do so, for some time and was not very happy about the situation. And so, things went ahead and, as it happens, the dance itself was last night.
It has to have been one of the most eventful dances I've been to in a very long time. My date was pestered every two seconds by people screeching, 'Oh my God! You're in a dress!', as if they had expected her to arrive in scuba gear. She grew weary of this very quickly but the relentless classmates continued.
I also met Helen's cousin, who teaches at the school of my date. She also seemed to have heard of me long before I had even arrived (I assume through Helen or one of her parents) which was kind of freaky.
Then, there was the waitress who slipped on the floor next to me, fell, dislocated and fractured her knee and had to be taken away in an ambulance by paramedics. It was really terrible! The poor girl just lay on the floor, crying in agony and clutching her knee and there was nothing we could do! (It turned out that my date and half of her friends are first aid'ers so they all flocked to the scene, leaving the dates to stand around awkwardly).
There was also the usual matric dance cheek ache which is characteristic of having to be photographed by absolutely every human being you come into contact with during the course of the evening.
And finally, at one stage my date decided to take off her shoes because the pain was getting a bit much, and the whole thing would make dancing that much easier. As it turned out, this was not a good time for her to do so because she returned to the table moments later, having been stood on by some other girl in stilettos on the dancefloor and had a large sheet of skin removed from one of her toes. However, this didn't slow her down at all.
Overall, it was one of the best matric dances that I have ever attended, and I have attended a few (approx. 5). Which is why I have decided that I will end it all on a high note. No, suicide is not on the cards just yet, but I will no longer be attending matric dances. Also, the fact that I am old enough to be the teacher of the girls that are in matric at the moment, adds weight to this decision. So girls, I'm sorry to say, that I am retiring from the field of the matric dance. You will have to look elsewhere for partners, from now on...