It was a night like no other. Elegant girls stepped lithely out of limousines in evening wear, jewels glittering at throats as young men - their shoes polished for once - offered their arms. Resplendent in flowing gowns, we swept majestically up the stairs, graceful as royalty. Winged eyeliner, designer clutches and towering stilettos were the order of the day, every manicured nail reeking of Hollywood glamour.
Well, OK, we mostly tried not to trip on each others' trains, and the guys were too busy fiddling with their stiff collars to do anything as gallant as escort us into the hotel ballroom. Still, our school graduation party at the Westin was unforgettable.
It took a lot of kicking underwater for us to achieve the floating princess look. We had piled into Prianka's house for pre-grad. Our hostess was dashing about with curlers and hairpins stuck into her hair. We had a smug giggling session about all the free hairpins we'd managed to extract from the parlour - we might as well feel pleased about our money-saving abilities when we could. Mum had sunk her face in her hands when she found out I'd blown all of Dh549 on those diamanté silver stilettos from Dune. The combined cost of our dresses amounted to several thousand dirhams.
Veronika's date, Greg, sadly held up the mangled remains of the tie he had been trying to wear for the past half-hour. "Can anyone help me with this?" Veronika wasn't the best candidate to ask but we managed a passable knot by stuffing the overlong, thin end back inside his shirt, out of sight.
For now, though, our carriage awaited: the limousine rolled up and we oohed and aahed dutifully.
"Wait!" Hordes of stampeding parents ran out, brandishing cameras as we lined up in front of the limo and smiled sheepishly into the lenses. We finally escaped the threatening click-click-click in the limo and Shanzeh cranked up the volume on the sound system. Meanwhile, Rory entertained us by narrating the story of "Albie the racist dragon" while Justin gravely gave us a tutorial on corny poses for photos.
At the Westin's ballroom, a stunning sight met the eye: our whole year group looked cleaner than I've seen any of them before. The night passed in a flurry of hugging people, parroting the phrase "You look ah-mazing!" and telling everyone how very, very much I'll miss them. We sampled five types of dessert and clapped dutifully at the spoof awards ceremony, which included things such as "Resemblance to Kim Kardashian".
The pointy heels of my new shoes ended up twisted and bent by the time the clock struck 12, and I doubt ergonomic support was a priority in the manufacturing process. The least the chaps at Dune could have done was stuck the crystals on firmly to stop them falling off. My shoe couldn't be saved, and the limo that had brought us there had transformed into a pumpkin of a regular grey car to drop us home. I won't apply the coachman/rat analogy to the limo chauffeur and my parents. It was a fairy-tale night - if only there was a prince in sight.
The writer is a 17-year-old student in Dubai
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