Hump Day Crush: The Prom (Part II)

This entry is part 2 of 5 in the series The Prom

I started this story a long time ago with every intention of finishing it up just days after the first part. Better late than never, right?

The school year was 1991-92, my Junior year in high school. The year was near it’s end, the musical (Mame that year) and the Key Club NY District Convention had passed. My own Junior Prom had been mediocre (at best). I was well into the normal slog of the rest of the regular year.

As was usually the case, I had met a lot of people at the March convention. Those things were the only times I felt like I could be myself back then. It was only a few days, but it was a few days that I felt truly alive. A handful of good friendships were made during those days. Some of them lasted well into college. Some are still going strong.

On one relatively bland and nondescript morning at the end of April, as I sat in the band room waiting for homeroom to start, Matt came through on his way to the auditorium where the orchestra held court. He’d been at the convention, too, and we’d known each other for a while (though I wouldn’t call us friends, more acquaintances if anything).

He came over to me. “Hey, Chris,” he said, “what are you doing in May?”

“Why?” I was a bit wary, as always, of people I didn’t really know (which in high school seemed like everyone) asking me leading questions.

“How’d you like to go to a prom?”

“Where?”

“Way upstate, past Watertown.”

I had no idea where that was. “Uh… with who?”

“Vicki. You met her at the convention.”

I ran through my mind everyone I had met at the convention. Being just as horrible with names then as I am now, I was drawing a complete blank. At that point there was only one name I was remembering clearly and that was Tracy. I knew she lived out in Long Island, so it was definitely not her (which was a slight disappointment since I was horribly crushing on her).

“Maybe,” I said.

That night I went through my stack of pictures and flipped back through the pages of my journal. In short enough order, I remembered Vicki. We had met, briefly, at the convention and shared some fun conversation. At the time, I thought she was interested in me more as an oddity than anything else. The prom invitation was a pleasant surprise.

And so, the next day, I told Matt I would be interested.

From that point forward, things got a little strange. Two days later, on April 30, the world as a whole tilted a bit as riots broke out in LA over the Rodney King case. My own life would dip into similar chaos as depression and confusion set in. I did find some solace in exploring the metaphysical, but it was ephemeral (as the metaphysical tends to be when merely dabbled with) and only a sporadic respite.

Thoughts of the prom would come up sporadically as plans were made, but it seemed so far away–seemed so much like some fiction that would never actually become reality. It wasn’t until I was picking up my tuxedo at the beginning of June that it was finally real.

Matt and I left on 5 June. The trip was about 300 miles long. The radio in Matt’s car, didn’t quite work. It did have a tape player. But that tape player had a tape stuck in it. It was an Eagles’ album. I learned on that trip that Matt’s favorite song was “Desperado”. In the first four hours of the trip, I heard that song at least fifty times. To this day, I do not care much for that song.

We arrived on time and made our way to Dawn’s house. She was Matt’s date and had been the one to suggest Vicki and I go together. I remembered her from the convention once I met her again. The plan was for us to all meet at her place and get ready. From there, we’d hit dinner and then the big dance.

Only thing was, when we showed up, no one was home.

Matt double-checked the address and directions. Yep, we were where we were supposed to be. He double-checked the time. Yep, were there when we were supposed to be. This being a time before everyone had cell phones, we drove around to find a pay phone so we could tell our parents we had arrived intact and that all was OK. We even tried a quick call to Vicki’s house, but there was no one there. Then, all we could do at that point was sit and wait. Sit out in front of an unfamiliar house, in an unfamiliar neighborhood, hundreds of miles away from home and wait.

Nearly an hour later, the girls finally showed up. Something had gone off schedule at the hair salon. There was a moderate amount of rushing around, a broken mirror, much nervous laughter and hesitant conversation, but before long everyone was ready to go.

Some friends of the girls showed up, bringing our party total to six, and we all headed out to dinner.

Our prom party on the way to dinner

That dinner is a blur of awkward conversation and getting-to-know you introductions. By the end of it, I know I was finally feeling more comfortable. As is so often the case, it only takes a little time and a little attention to bring the moment into focus and let the anxiety fade into the dull buzz of the background.

After dinner, the prom itself loomed ahead of us. But that part of the story is for next week.

Series NavigationThe Prom (Part I)Hump Day Crush: The Prom (Part III)
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