Subourbon Mom

Cotillion–The Gloves Are Coming Off
October 3, 2012, 10:55 am
Filed under: Parenting | Tags: , , , , ,

Could someone please explain to me why the ritual of sending Southern “tweens” on the cusp of womanhood to Cotillion still exists? Don’t get me wrong. Daughter #2 is doing it, albeit under protest. And like her fellow future debutantes (in this case, girls who will someday go to college like we did, drink the same swill and do just as many walk-of-shames as we did, and then come live at home), she will be wearing the requisite white gloves, appropriately-cut dress somewhere close to her knees, and an old wrap of mine because let’s face it–every teenager wants to look like their Great Aunt Elspeth.

Now, as I understand it, Cotillion began as a country dance in France in the 1800s, which enabled partners to flirt and socialize as they danced. So here we are, 200 years later, attempting to provide our children with the opportunity to socialize. As if school, FaceBook, Twitter, InstaGram and the four others they think I don’t know anything about, aren’t enough. Flirting and socializing? Have these people ever been to a dance these days? I’ve seen less bumping and grinding in the final two laps of a NASCAR race. I think we’re WAY beyond flirting. (Of course, my Sweet Angel would never do such a thing).

Also, according to tradition, the higher the social status, the more elegant the event used to be. Social status? Let’s see…how to address that one. Since we are, to quote comedian Louis CK, “in a suburb of Walmart,” I’m not sure how much elegance we can truly hope to have. White gloves will only cover up so many Sally Hansen nails and dirt accumulated in barns and soccer/field hockey/lacrosse dirt. And there’s also no hiding the multiple ear piercings and happy faces drawn all over their arms in pen by their friends.

Nor can we disguise the difference in attitude from our Delicate Flowers’ ancestors. Daughter #2, who is twelve years old, 5’6” and 100 pounds wet, got matched up with the shortest boy there. Of course. Short Boy’s friends, other twelve-year-old Future Fraternity Bothers practicing for pledge week, teased Short Boy, saying, “You’re so much shorter than she is!” (Duh!) Daughter #2, a delicate southern flower for sure, flipped her hair and tossed back to them, “You’re so much more annoying than he is!”

That’s my girl! Yep, the gloves are coming off.

Of course, the dresses have rules too. For example, nothing strapless, and they must come just above the knee. I would like to know, have any of the women who organize this thing ever tried to shop for dresses for a tween? The dresses available that aren’t from Lilli Pulitzer, Nordstrom or straight out of the Preppy Handbook (remember that?) look like clothing for hookers, pirates or hippies circa 1972. No spaghetti straps? Knee-length? Really? Well, I guess we better head on over to Pennsylvania and borrow some dresses from the Amish. Maybe those girls who “Broke Amish” won’t need them.

There are a couple of bright spots: on the nights you don’t have to drive, there are two or three hours of blissful peace and quiet after the Bath and Body Works brothel fog has evaporated. And, if you are the driver that night, you will probably learn an enormous amount of information (you are, however, supposed to report back to the other moms what was said), like whose kid had sweaty palms, whose kid smelled weird, and which girls managed to arrange to dance with their “boyfriends.” The flip side? Who gets to be the lucky one to tell Sally’s mom that Sally and John were seen kissing at school? Or that little Jenny put raccoon rings of eyeliner on as soon as she left the house?

On the night I have to drive, I plan on dropping off the girls, hiding out in the closest StarBucks, and turning the radio up REALLY loud on the way home.

In sweat pants.

3 Comments so far
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Well Done!!!!!!!!!!!


Comment by Kimberly Anderson

so daughter #2 has already learned all she needs to know from cotillion… how to throw back rebukes southern gal style.


Comment by lynchburggal70

I agree with your banter but have to say that my kid made cotillion the social function of the year- after laying out hundreds of dollars for her to attend, I also had to take she and her 12 friends for pizza afterwards and then a sleep- over for at least 8 each time- must admit – all in all- I actually had fun myself! Might have been the 3 beers I had during cotillion and my husband’s company ( and driving) that added to the fun!


Comment by Sue Ann aka ridge runner

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