Things I learned from the Dining Out (and adjacent happenings):
I think I was raised to believe that formal events were a bigger deal than they are. This was apparent to me as I compared my two shopping experiences. Shopping with my two friends was a pragmatic sort of deal. They are as fond of a bargain as I, so our modus operandi was to hit the sale racks first and systematically try on anything that looked like it would come close to fitting (or be altered to fit), then go from there with the shoes and such. Mom has a more right-brained approach--she is big on finding "the" dress, and gushing over the accessories and peripheral details ("It's not a ball, Mom. That's in the fall."). Having had the comfort of the practical experience, I was able to let Mom talk about princesses without feeling pressured. And then, as it turned out, when I found The Dress I knew more or less right away (I had to hem & haw a bit, but deep down I knew I was going to buy the dress), which pleased Mom.
It dawned on me that shopping for a dress is not as out of the ordinary as I previously had thought. First off, it's prom season so there were teenage girls prancing and giggling all over the place. Seriously man, they were giddy. And while I don't often go to formal events, apparently there are plenty of formal events out there to be had. Moreso, some ladies like to shop for good deals on dresses so they have them just in case an event pops up. This always makes me think of "My Three Sons," when Tina and her bridesmaids were all freaking out over their dresses for the wedding. The freaking out maybe doesn't happen all that much, but the buying the dresses does imitate real life. Who'da thunk.
Oh, AND getting one's hair 'done' is not all that strange either, it turns out. Even in these modern times, plenty of people pay to get their hair styled, and the hair stylists think this is perfectly normal. I don't know what I was afraid of, but when I was getting my hair done (and cut, while I was at it) there were at least two other ladies who got updo's. My stylist didn't bat an eye when I showed her the picture I liked in the wedding hair book.
As for the event itself, same thing. We came, we ate, we goofed off, we left. In fancy clothes...