Things That Happened at the Masquerade

A couple weekends ago, Sara and I attended a masquerade ball. I sit on the exec board for the organization that hosted the ball, so my favorite game of the night was having everyone guess how much the ball cost. Since our tickets were free, we decided to go all out on our masks. Unfortunately, the first couples' set we chose sold out, but we received a discount for our next choice. We chose - I should be real here; I chose - a metal filigree mask that was hot as Hades. Truly, my only wish for the evening was to get a killer profile pic. However, the best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry.

Leading up to the ball, I asked my friends where they were getting their masks. The most common response was, "Oh, are people wearing masks? I wasn't going to."

Me: (I guess I'll leave my $22 mask at home. Uh, no.) "You should wear a mask; I hear everyone else is."

I did make it a goal that if I saw the mask set I originally wanted, then I would ask to trade masks with the wearer. That wouldn't be too weird, right?

Sara estimates that between thirty to forty percent of ball attendees wore masks. Sara, against my desires, declined to wear her mask after realizing she resembled something out of The Hills Have Eyes. I just looked like the Phantom of the Opera, which is sort of en vogue. Or "sort of 50 Shades of Grey," according to an acquaintance. I'm glad I looked erotic.

Pre-masks. I guess Sara didn't want to ruin her hair.

I planned on wearing black on black for this event to match Sara's dress, which she bought for $1.47 at Ross's the week of. Her dress became the hit of Instagram; she got a record like count, which she kept track of all night. However, when I went to put on my black button-down, I discovered I got swoll. JK. I just got fat or something (primarily in my eyelids), because I fit in it two summers ago. An emergency wardrobe change occurred.

We met up with my friends for a pre-pregame. Knowing both my tolerance and Sara's Biggest Loser challenge, we should have known we didn't need that much alcohol ammo for the night. However, youth always prevails.

I wanted to wear my mask to the restaurant, but was told that's not socially acceptable. And thank gosh I didn't, because we're waiting to be seated at the restaurant when this man says my name. I'm confused who is this person until I realize it's my adviser - oh my God, what are you doing here? Thankfully, I don't say that. I'm just like, "Hi, this is my best friend, and this is Dr...." I never say my adviser's last name out loud because it has one of those vowels where I'm like, Is it silent? I can't remember. I'm drunk. But my adviser interrupts: "You can call me Tim."

Drunk me: "Oh, can I call you that?"

(WTF did you just say, Cazey?)

Tim ignores me and walks away at the first chance he got.

Where we had dinner.

The rest of our dinner party arrives, which includes a cute first date couple (Aww!). I rejoice when I discover they are both wearing masks. Great, someone else to join in my filigreed humiliation! The girl pulls out her mask - it's gold and glittery. We're awing over it when she confesses, "I made it this morning."

Me: "Oh, you can tell."

Preface: This girl and I had been doing some banter beforehand, so this was meant as a joke - I mean, crafty as it was, I really hope this girl didn't buy a mask with the durability of toilet paper. Sara, graciously, saves me: "Don't mind Cazey being a dick."

Girl: "No, I get it; that's his general attitude."

EL OH EL. Why do I like this girl? But also, *through gritted teeth* am I an asshole?

There's also this other girl who I have met at least three times before. However, I did that thing where you pretend not to know them because it's funny. For example, one time I went out with Sara, went to the restroom, returned to see her talking with a guy, and introduced myself as her high school classmate who hadn't seen her in half a decade. I then walked away. The guy had no clue, and Cazey was the only one thoroughly amused.

Me: "Have we met? I'm Cazey."

Girl: "Yeah, I think we have. Shelly's introduced us."

Me: "Oh, that's right. No, I'm joking; I remember you."

Girl: (confused) "Really, it's okay if you don't remember me."

But I do. I was joking. Crap. I'll stop now.

Eventually our drinks arrived. I decided over my mint julep that grad school is tolerable while drunk. How else can one attend a masquerade ball?

Me, by myself, in a mask.

Following dinner, we returned to our hotel rooms for the third part of this pregame. This is when Sara definitively decides to not wear her mask, and I'm just like, this is one of the only times in our mortal lives where we can wear a mask and not be judged, and you are going to surrender that opportunity? I don't get it. I'll wear a mask by myself; I like being mysterious. Sara must not have enjoyed the fat rolls that the mask made through her mid-facial region. Or the dark, soul-sucking look of her eyes in the mask.

By the time we decide to go to the ball, the check-in line has stretched itself into a human Snake game. Well, eff this. We debate holing up in the hotel room with vodka like Midwesterners in a blizzard, and then I have the brilliant idea to break into the ball. The ball is on the second floor, and they've shut off elevator access, but hello, the stairs! Sara and I agree this was our favorite part of the night. While we can't find an explicit second floor entrance, we discovered an open maintenance room - maybe there's a doorway here! Clang. The door falls shut behind us. Momentary panic when we realize we might be locked in.

Me: Tonight just got even better! I love stories.

Finally, my friends realize I am on exec for this whole shebang, so can't I get us in? Err. I hate being that schmuck. But can I? Umm.

I refuse to take off my mask as we sneak up to the front of the check-in line. I whisper to the lady that I'm on exec, and I can see why this line is infinite, because she must have arthritis with the speed she is checking IDs and putting on wristbands.

My friends: "Be more aggressive."

Then one of them touches her shoulder, and then they pretend I touched her. I see people I know watching this unfold. This reminds me of the time I was in a traffic jam, so my friend and I drove down the off-road lane toward the nearest exit only to find the traffic jam clearing at the exit, so my friend merges back into the speeding up traffic. Meanwhile, I shout out the window: "We're assholes!"

Woman: "Did you say you're on exec?"

I nod. "All four of us."

"Just cross off your names here."

I cross off four names - mine, Sara's, and two other people's who I really hope made it into the ball. (Spoiler: They did.)

The actual dance was anticlimactic, which we could have inferred as we went to the ball last year. But it's always about the journey, anyway. Sara and I did go into a photo booth where there were props - including a mask on a stick, which was the type of mask I originally wanted. And since this mask was basically falling apart and Sara had no mask, I gave her the one on my head and walked out with the mask on the stick. I am an asshole.

Our comeuppance came when our ride home arrived. Sara had brought two bottles of wine, only one of which she broke into. We're about to get into the car when she drops the bottle - the full wine bottle. Blame should rest on me though, as I mandated Sara to holding my water bottle, too. I owe her another cheap bottle of red wine.

And did we ever get that killer profile pic I so desperately desired? You tell me.