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I turned my chair around, away from the table so it was facing the dance floor. I wanted a better view. There’s something so inherently entertaining about watching other people dance. Not professional dancers, not even particularly good dancers, just dancers.

Their limbs were loosened by a few rounds from the open bar and the bottles of wine placed on each table. Invigorated by the cheers of those around them, forgetting the limitations of their bodies. They would all be feeling it in the morning. The aching heads and tight muscles, the vague memories of an ill-advised attempt at the splits.

In university we coined the phrase “full points boy” to describe those who readily took to the dance floor, aware that what they lacked in skill, they made up for in enthusiasm. Their eyes would dart quickly across the crowd, making sure they weren’t doing anything too outlandish, too crazy, too much. Just enough to fit in, barely enough to get noticed. We gave them ‘full points’ for their effort, realizing even then that effort can make up for skill on so many levels. .

I sat in my chair, feet rebelling against the tights and heels that the occasion dictated. My dress, just a smidge too tight and my nails, freshly painted but already starting to chip on one finger.

A few hours earlier I stood in front of the mirror, trying to make room on the bathroom counter for my little makeup bag amongst the tiny toothbrushes and pink toothpaste smudges. One by one I took bits of makeup out of the bag, hoping they would work wonders on the pale skin, dark circles and dull eyes that looked back at me.

When I reached the bottom of the bag I sighed. No tricks left up my sleeve; this was as good as it was going to get. I thought briefly about the dozens of other women who, right in that moment, were doing the exact same thing. Wishing for the face that used to look back at them, wondering what happened to that girl. Choosing a hairstyle based on how much time was available before someone else needed in the bathroom, picking a dress dictated by which one you could get by without ironing, deciding on a lipstick because it was the only one you could find at the bottom of the duffle bag you refer to as a purse.

I sat in my chair, listening to the music and starting to smile. A man on the dance floor did a surprisingly-effective imitation of Gangnam Style. If only our kids could see us now; the room would be filled with hundreds of eyes simultaneously rolling.

The song ended and the next one started. I tapped my aching foot, adjusted my dress a bit to allow for a little more wiggle room and made my way to the dance floor.

It’s never going to be perfect; but I give myself full points for trying.

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