I did the Texas Dip. My best friend, Susanna Gorski, had known all of her life that she would be a debutante. Her grandmother, mother, and two aunts had all made their debuts, and she would be the first of all of the granddaughters to make hers. Throughout my junior and senior years of high school, I wondered if I would make my own debut into society. Although it sounds silly now, I was convinced that if I made my debut, I would have to get engaged or married immediately afterward, because the initial purpose of the debutante tradition was to find a husband. I knew, though, that making my debut would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me.
On October 25, 2003, the day I came out to society as a debutante in Fort Worth, I almost became physically ill on more than one occasion. Butterflies twittered to and fro inside my stomach for most of the afternoon, and by the time five o’clock rolled around, I was a nervous wreck. But my hair was perfectly coiffed, my makeup flawless, and my white Amsale Aberra gown, which I had chosen months before, had been delivered to the country club earlier in the day. All that was left was to slip it on, have my pictures made, and wait impatiently for eight o’clock.
All of us waited—and waited. While backstage, we heard the guests arrive and take their places. Still we waited. I sat on a stool, my dress draped over it like a mushroom cap so as not to wrinkle. Finally, the presentation of the debutantes began. My heart was pounding at what seemed like its normal speed. I was third in line. The announcer called out my name, and then my special song, The Very Thought of You, began to play. Months of preparation and practicing had all come down to these thirty seconds of absolute terror. “Remember to smile,” I thought. “Remember to purse your lips together so that you don’t get lipstick on your dress during the bow.” I walked out onstage, pink bouquet in my hands, and grinned. “Do not fall.” All of the spotlights shone brightly on me, and I couldn’t see anyone. I walked to the middle of the stage, paused, stretched out my arms, and floated to the floor. I bent forward from my waist as far as I could go, held my position for a few moments, sat back up, took my escort’s hand, and stood. My date led me down the center of the dance floor and then to my appropriate spot to wait for the rest of my friends to be introduced. When the last debutante had made her way back, we were all presented as a group and then led onto the dance floor by our escorts for the first dance of the night. My father cut in, and even though I had taught him to waltz the day before, we were both so nervous that we just kind of shuffled our feet and talked. Once the song ended, the real party began.
The presentation was over, so I could schmooze, drink, dance, and enjoy myself. With a glass of champagne in hand, I continued to show off my gown all night and talk with friends I hadn’t seen in forever. The Steeplechase Ball is planned by a men’s social club that presents and honors debutantes in Fort Worth, and its members definitely know how to throw a party. I was sitting at a table, having a bite to eat, when KC, of KC and the Sunshine Band, asked all of the debutantes to come onstage. Then I, the girl who hated school dances and abhorred being made to dance in front of others, ran onstage to boogie to “Shake Your Booty.” Don’t believe me? I have the pictures to prove it. By the end of the after-party, which was almost as fun as the ball itself, I knew that I had just experienced the most wonderful night of my life. And, best of all, I didn’t have to worry about planning a wedding anytime soon.