The Prom (Part I)

This entry is part 1 of 5 in the series The Prom

Starting in 6th grade, there wasn’t a single regular school dance that I missed.

The only one I would have missed, they canceled.

For those first three years, I did no dancing at all. I pined away in a dark corner, watching the girl I was infatuated with happily dance away with other guys. Except for that one time I asked someone else to dance. She promptly kicked me in the shins three or four times in rapid succession.

Once in high school, things got moderately better. I was dragged out onto the dance floor by my friend Kerry early on in my high school career. That was my first slow dance. I can still remember awkwardly swaying to Debbie Gibson‘s Lost in Your Eyes, not sure at all what I should be doing–where my hands should go, where I should look, should I talk, heck, could I talk…

At those high school dances, I’d bop about a bit. Often making quite the fool out of myself. It was a mixed bag. Most of the time I couldn’t tell if people were making fun of me or genuinely impressed by what I was doing. I’d never say I was a good dancer–and I still don’t–but I could move funny out there like lots of other people.

So I never missed a dance, but very rarely did I ever actually dance with anyone. There was only one dance I can remember that I brought a date to. I have many more memories of trying to psyche myself up to ask girls to dance. I never really did. I’m still no good at that. (I also don’t practice any more.)

That was how the normal dances went (and eventually our “normal” dances were video dance parties more often than not, which, I suppose, is just a fact of going to school in the 90s). Very quickly there became nothing very special at all.

But there were two Big Ones to look forward to: the Proms. My school had two proms. There was the Junior Prom, which was generally held at the school in a decked out cafeteria and run by the (you guessed it) Junior class. Then there was the Senior Prom. Anyone who paid attention in high school (or during movies set in high schools) knows that the Senior Prom is the Holy Grail of dating experiences. It is the last hurrah for the Senior Class an, in my school at least, was often held off school grounds, usually at one of the big restaurants or resort hotels in the area (because there wasn’t a single class that didn’t have some kid of one of the owners of those businesses in my area).

I went to three proms. Unlike other people I know who went to three (sometimes four or more) proms, only two of mine were in my school district.

My Junior Prom wasn’t that impressive. The prep work for the prom, however, was spectacular. And horrible. It all balanced out. The dance itself, though, left a lot to be desired. I went alone. I went so alone that I couldn’t even convince my cheap-ass friends at the time to go in on a limo. My parents dropped me off and picked me up from my Junior Prom. I have one picture from it. Me, standing alone, in the middle of the big garden arch they had set up. It’s not even a good picture. I still wonder why I bothered paying to have it taken.

My Senior Prom is really all a blur. I remember very little of the prom itself. I know it was at one of the big hotels. I vaguely remember the table of people I sat with. I know I danced a couple of songs with friends of mine. And I know I danced at least one with my date. Oh, yeah, I went to the senior prom with someone. I went with a buddy of mine’s fiance. He couldn’t make it at the last minute. I was the “safe date.” I have no pictures from my senior prom. I paid for the pictures, but I’ve never seen them. The girl I went with has them. Or at least she did the last I knew (which was more than a decade ago). My Senior Prom was nothing at all like what I had hoped it would be. Most definitely not a John Hughes-style prom. The day after the prom, however, was quite nice. Lots of fun at Six Flags Great Adventure.

The prom that topped both of those took place eight hours away from my school district in far northwestern New York. That’s the prom I have pictures from (I still carry one in my wallet all the time). That’s the prom where I had a date that was my own. That’s the prom that lasted a whole weekend and was the beginning of a friendship that has lasted for more than a decade. I’ve kept in touch with her through two marriages and one divorce and I’m eagerly awaiting to hear stories of her child being born and growing up. It was a life changing experience for me and I will never forget it…

And I’ll tell the whole story… at the beginning of next week. 🙂
(Yes, I know, I’m evil… leaving you all hanging… but it’s a long story.)

Series NavigationHump Day Crush: The Prom (Part II)
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  • fiferjanis

    Hmm… I never went to a prom. I went to the 8th grade dance because my mom made me and sat there miserable the whole time and called her after exactly one hour (the minimum I had to stay… in case I would magically start having fun once I was there).

    When it came to proms though, I avoided them like the plague. I figured, “Spend lots of money and anxiety so I can put on an expensive, ugly dress that will make for horrible pictures down the road and be with people I can’t stand and see every day? Where do I sign up!!?” *extreme sarcasm*

    Seems to me I spent the night of my Sr. Prom making monthly tape-backups for the VAX machines at DEC… (once a geek, always a geek…)

    I never even danced with someone until I was 28, when we were playing some gig for a 65th reunion for some WWII Navy ship’s crew, and they had music and dancing, and one of my friends (upon hearing I’d never danced before) took me out on the floor and spun me around a bit, the two of us waltzing in 18th century men’s military uniforms complete with tricorne hats and wigs. Don’t ask, don’t tell? 🙂 The old-timers of course cheered us on, as we were the only ones young and mobile enough to dance in the room. 😉

    But that was one of my friend-friends who taught me, “If I get divorced, I won’t be alone – I have friends who will take care of me.”

  • fiferjanis

    Hmm… I never went to a prom. I went to the 8th grade dance because my mom made me and sat there miserable the whole time and called her after exactly one hour (the minimum I had to stay… in case I would magically start having fun once I was there).

    When it came to proms though, I avoided them like the plague. I figured, “Spend lots of money and anxiety so I can put on an expensive, ugly dress that will make for horrible pictures down the road and be with people I can’t stand and see every day? Where do I sign up!!?” *extreme sarcasm*

    Seems to me I spent the night of my Sr. Prom making monthly tape-backups for the VAX machines at DEC… (once a geek, always a geek…)

    I never even danced with someone until I was 28, when we were playing some gig for a 65th reunion for some WWII Navy ship’s crew, and they had music and dancing, and one of my friends (upon hearing I’d never danced before) took me out on the floor and spun me around a bit, the two of us waltzing in 18th century men’s military uniforms complete with tricorne hats and wigs. Don’t ask, don’t tell? 🙂 The old-timers of course cheered us on, as we were the only ones young and mobile enough to dance in the room. 😉

    But that was one of my friend-friends who taught me, “If I get divorced, I won’t be alone – I have friends who will take care of me.”

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