Ah, Yes, The Inaugural Ball

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Once again, we are at the moment where thousands of out-of-towners are about to arrive in Washington for a Cinderella Evening, with their suitcases full of expensive dresses and killer shoes. Which will give way to the most time-honored of morning-after rituals: complaining about how awful (hot, crowded, no food, long lines at the bar) that once-in-a-lifetime evening turned out to be. (Few people want to experience it a second time.)

Monica Hesse has a hilarious look in today’s Washington Post about the long decline of the Inaugural Ball from 120-piece orchestras and lobster salad (Grover Cleveland, 1893) to ham-and-swiss minibiscuits on sale for $5.50 and a cash bar featuring box wine for $4 (Bill Clinton, 1997). And Roxanne Roberts has some tips for the uninitiated. (The most important one: Flat shoes.)

Word is, the Obamas will be “attending” (that is, making an appearance at) 10 of them. But, presumably, they won’t have to be hassling with the coat check like everyone else. Here’s how “unforgettable” Inauguration Night feels for the guests of honor.

So if you weren’t among those who scored a ticket to any of them, tell yourself that it really is better to see it on TV. If you are, consider yourself forewarned.