A few months ago, I visited the United States’ country club for the first time, a luxurious resort in Orlando.
As I gazed out the window, I could have sworn that the club’s lobby, a dark, wood-paneled room, was decorated with a vast array of decorative lampshaders.
But the bar was deserted.
A few weeks earlier, the club had hosted an annual ball at which hundreds of celebrities, including the Duchess of Cambridge, danced in a red carpet.
When I reached the lobby, it was empty.
Instead, the lounge area had been transformed into a small theater, and I found myself watching a series of plays from a projector.
I wondered what, if anything, the stars and dancers might be dancing to.
Then I thought about the night’s theme: the United Kingdom’s annual ball.
This year’s theme was “Country Style,” and, like so many others around the world, I had been hoping to see a version of the ball in my country club.
A bar of this size and sophistication would have been a major draw, and a venue that featured such a rich collection of costumes would have become a magnet for guests, including, inevitably, an array of actors and actresses.
So far, so American.
The ball is played in a dark venue, with an extensive set of tables, chairs and booths, and there is a DJ who plays the national anthem at various points throughout the evening.
The setting is perfect for this sort of party: the lighting is minimal, the décor minimal, and the entertainment is focused.
But when I walked through the club, I found that this wasn’t a place where I could feel comfortable.
I didn’t feel like I belonged.
My skin was flushed, my hair and nails were greasy, and my eyes felt as though they were constantly looking at me.
My eyes were so close to the screens that I had trouble keeping them out of my peripheral vision.
As the ball approached, I started to feel uncomfortable, as if my body was in some way reacting to what was happening around me.
I couldn’t help but think of the movie Midnight in Paris, in which a man, having just arrived at a French hotel, tries to sneak past security, and finds that his face, too, is in the sights of the world.
The man’s body reacts to the presence of others and is not easily shaken, so it becomes uncomfortable to look at him.
I felt this in the ballroom, and then, when the ball was over, I felt as if the whole world was staring at me, a constant reminder that I was in the spotlight.
I had no idea why this felt so uncomfortable.
I knew that it was possible that I would have felt differently had I been in the club.
The reason was simple: The dress code.
“It’s a dress code,” said an employee at the club who asked that I not use her name.
The club is a very formal place, she explained, and people wear very little clothes.
People wear tuxedos, suits, and pinstripe blouses.
“But the ball is a private function, so you can’t dress up.”
When I entered, I was wearing a tuxedo.
The dress I wore, which I hadn’t worn in a while, was an old, faded navy blouse.
I was also wearing a skirt, a white turtleneck, and knee-high black boots.
It was an unassuming outfit that I hadn-the-fault-in-attention-to-a-dress ensemble.
The room was also very bare, with a few tables and chairs, and only a single lamp hanging from a wire hanging over the door.
I walked over to one of the tables, and was surprised to find myself seated next to a group of young men, one of whom was wearing an American flag shirt, which had been emblazoned with a red cross and a red star.
I turned to him, and asked if I could ask him something.
He looked at me for a moment, and replied, “It was your idea.”
“I don’t think it was,” he said, “but it is my idea.”
It took some effort to tell him that I wasn’t his first choice for a date.
“You’re a celebrity here,” I said.
“No, you’re not,” he replied.
“And we’re not.”
He walked away, leaving me alone in the room.
The next day, when I returned to the United State, I went to the American Bar Association’s annual convention in Boston.
I asked the receptionist who I could speak to about the dress code, and she told me that they would be reviewing it.
I went back to the hotel, and,