The day after school got out, Elliot went to his first ball. It was, of course, simply an end-of-the-school-year dance, but the name in French amused me greatly. “Your first ball,” I kept teasing him and tried to get him to waltz with me down the hall.

He nearly missed it because I didn’t read the invitation closely enough. There was a deadline for the response. When I realized we were too late, I told him to go talk to the CPE. “Explain it was my fault,” I urged. You can get away with quite a lot when you’re foreign. And sure enough, the CPE agreed. “But don’t tell anyone,” he instructed Elliot. “I don’t want a lot of other kids coming and saying I have to make an exception for them as well.” The result was that Elliot didn’t tell any of his friends he was coming, so we had no idea what anyone else was wearing.

In the afternoon he shaved. The ball started at 7:30 and went till 12:30, so we fed him early and sent him off. He told us later that he was among the better-dressed of the boys, but the girls were all in party dresses and sparkly high heels.

The music was so loud that we could stand on our balcony and hear the words of the songs being played. They played the World Cup song at about midnight and everyone cheered and waved flags. 5 hours of dancing to techno beat, hanging out with his friends, eating sandwiches, buying Cokes, talking to teachers. He came home elated and exhausted both, glad he went after all.

Taken by a photographer at the ball