Just because I can't show you a picture of prom, however, doesn't mean I can't tell you about it, right? I did go to my high school's prom (twice, actually), but I'm fairly certain my prom experience was decidedly unlike the typical teenager's. A few people in -R-'s comments objected to the prom photo challenge on the grounds that they were dateless for prom and therefore did not go. I was dateless as well, but I went anyway (with some equally dateless friends), due to some likely ridiculous and unfounded fear that I might regret it someday if I did not. I hated every aspect of prom planning, and yet somehow I was not reckless and indie enough to proclaim, proudly and resolutely, "I will not go!"
I have various memories of my prom... memories I'm having a hard time crafting into any sort of cohesive narrative, and therefore I will resort to the convention of the lazy--the bullet-point list.
- The dress--I went dress-shopping with my mother, who took me not just to the mall, but to several popular bridal shoppes** in the area as well. In retrospect, I think perhaps my hesitance and aversion to commitment possibly stems from a goal to avoid the sort of uncomfortable experiences I had in the fitting rooms at these ever-so-helpful bridal shoppes. I was used to taking items off the rack and into a fitting room to decide the suitability of an outfit myself. Having a nosy, commissioned bridal shoppe lady barge in and hoist my breasts into position was not something I felt prepared for in any way. Equally unprepared was I for the woman with the clipboard at the sales counter, asking, "Now, what school do you go to? And what is your date's name?" Apparently they had some sort of arrangement that aimed to prevent any two girls in the same school from showing up in the same dress. As I had no date (and didn't really care if one other girl in my class chose the same dress), I was entirely mortified by this clipboard and the permanent documentation of my datelessness it implied. "Maybe she just doesn't want to go to prom," the sales lady suggested to my mother in the face of my reticence. "Oh, how right you are," I remember thinking in reply. In the end, I chose a hideous royal blue satin number from Deb, of all places. Ever practical even as a teenager, I saw no need to spend $200+ on a dress I was not crazy about, when a $50 dress I hated would serve the purpose just as well. The dress I chose I called my "Hee-Haw dress" because of its ruffled off-the-shoulder design and unflattering drop-waist. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure I have any photos of me in this dress in my personal photo collection; that is how insignificant it truly was to me at the time.
- The date--I've already established that I went stag, but let's review my path to choosing that route, shall we? I actually was asked to prom... by two different guys, no less. Date prospect #1 was a good friend of mine with whom I had a long-forgotten arrangement to attend prom with, should we both be dateless at the time. He called me one night, saying, "So... I know you said you were going to go to prom with [insert names of various single friends with whom I'd formed a collective here], but I was just thinking... would you want to go with me instead?" I remember stammering and coming up with some completely ludicrous reason to get off the phone. (I actually think I used the excuse that the ice cream I'd just dished out for myself was melting--that was how lame I was at that moment.) From what I heard, this perfectly nice guy asked no fewer than five other girls to prom before finally finding a date. It became sort of a cruel and twisted joke among my friends, and yet, I held some absurd pride in the fact that he asked me first!
The second boy to ask was a pimply-face nobody with whom I shared a homeroom class. In the interest of fairness, I'll say that I was, at the time, at least 20 pounds heavier than I am now, even with the slowing metabolism of my mid-30s clearly staring me in the face, and yet, I still say to this guy that I was clearly and entirely well out of his league. The fact that he had no right to ask me was compounded by the way he asked... "I'd take you, if you want," he said in homeroom one day. As if it was a favor to me... as if it was an offer I couldn't possibly hope to match. I may be being cruel, but bruised egos have a way of doing that, I think. If I were truly cruel, I'd post his full name here, for all the Internet to see. I'm not doing that, however. But I still say, what the fuck?
- The not-my-date--There actually was someone who I wanted to go to prom with, above all others, and, deciding I could be a modern woman who goes after what she wants, I got uncharacteristically bold and actually asked him myself. Unfortunately, I couldn't do so without first running the idea past a few of our mutual friends... friends who were not the gate-keepers to sensitive information that I might obviously have hoped they'd be. When I finally got around to asking this guy to prom, here's how the conversation basically went...
Me: Hey. Can I talk to you a minute? There's something I want to ask you.
Him: Oh boy. I think I know what this is about.
Me: You do? Um, what do you think I'm going to ask you?
Him: You want me to go with you to prom?
Me: Uh... Yeah. But... um, you don't have to say "yes" if you don't want to... and it doesn't have to be a real date. We can say it's just as friends...
Him: Well, can I say "maybe"?
Me: Sure. You can say "maybe." You know... yeah... whatever...
He never mentioned it again, and on prom night, he showed up with a girl from the class below ours, who had triangular-shaped hair and who wore some sort of weird dress pants beneath her skirt. But I somehow feel I've already written about this at some point. Oh yeah. I guess I have.
* I thought this warranted clarification, considering "prom" is now code-word for something entirely different as well.
** Note the "two-p's-and-an-e" spelling... ever important for every reputable participant in this racket.