In the 80s, one of the hippiest fashion items was the dinner belt.
It was a broad mass of shiny cotton that you wrapped around your waist when you attended a glitz and glamour occasion. Well, of course back then as a teenager there were very few such events except the Super Party.
The Super Party was a Form 5 leavers’ ball when most of us mistakenly due to tragic mind degeneration thought we had conquered the world. The Super Party now trades under even more glamorous names like The Prom, Leavers Ball and Completers Ball and some other fancy Generation X nomenclature. You could have the most beautiful suit but if you did not have a dinner belt, the urge to attend the Super Party was seriously dented. You could have the most beautiful shoes, but if you did not have the dinner belt you were not going to the Super Party.
In fact in some cases, most cases actually, the dinner belt was the first acquisition in the Super Party outfit. Sadly, some budgets even ended at the dinner belt acquisition stage and there was nothing to buy the suit.
The economic sharks in the form of shops would wheel them out to the window displays as soon as November came round. This was to titillate our appetite and remind us that the time was nigh. This was also the trigger for family feuds. As soon as you started mentioning dinner belts at the dinner table the arguments erupted.
Your father, who was essentially The Minister of Law and Order in the household will try to wade into the finance side and there will be weeks of arguments with the Minister of Finance ( your mother).
To my father, conversations around expending money were as welcome as a fart in an elevator. But once my mother was in the mix, he had no chance. My mother was like a Level 5 extortionist.
Steady mechanics, unrelenting and very cunning. When on song, she was like a freight train coming at you at full speed and my father became pancake batter waiting to be flattened out and rolled over. At one point, I actually believed she could even get money from any central or reserve bank. Just open that window and give her about 10 minutes to work her
As the weeks roll by and the dinner belts steadily disappear from shop windows, you silently pray that the tussle between your parents does not sustain beyond the Super Party.
You also pray the feud will not outlast the shops’ stock levels. You are essentially a prayer warrior as each passing day your schoolmates boast about having acquired their dinner belts. Mission accomplished!
Meanwhile, you are watching your family cabinet argument playing itself out and resisting the urge to say ‘On a point of order Mr Speaker. I stand here to support the Minister of Finance’s proposal to buy a dinner belt as it is a very important acquisition to this family and will enable us to maintain our dignity out there in the public.’
During this time, you are firmly supporting your mother mainly because you cannot be seen without a dinner belt in the Super Party photos. Supporting your mother comes at a price though. It means your obedience meter shoots to the maximum and you are now completing every household chore in record time. You are even volunteering for chores you used to refuse doing. By the time the Minister of Finance’s budget is approved you are close to burnout.
I was actually reminded of the dinner belt when I happened to come across some old photographs where I was all suited and dinner-belted and looking very handsome. I know the latter is hard to believe but cameras in those days didn’t lie.
There was no photoshop and filters then and you would agree with me if you were to see the photos.
The dinner belt had a very short lifespan. After the Super Party I looked for opportunities to show off my dinner belt which had been acquired under very trying circumstances.
It would not have been fair to my mother for me to have worn it only once. She had fought a very tough battle to ensure that her first son got the dinner belt.
I decided church would be a perfect place but after one trip which attracted stares, smirks and wisecracks I quickly abandoned the idea. Dinner belts belong to Super Parties. It has been decreed somewhere in the heavens I think.
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