It’s prom season, which I know only because one of my kids’ babysitters showed me her dress. It’s a super short, deep purple, airy, fluffy, ballerina tutu-esque outfit that I’m sure looks fantastic on her. It got me thinking about my own prom experience, now nine years ago (hard to believe!). I was insanely excited about prom for most of grade twelve, vowing to go with a date. A number of my single girlfriends were going together as a group, but I wouldn’t be budged. After all, I wasn’t allowed by my parents to date at all, so this was my one opportunity in all of high school. As the much-anticipated month of May approached, the date invitations did not roll in, as I’d been hoping. So I decided to take matters into my own hands. I had no issues with asking a guy myself, but it quickly proved to be a lot more complicated than I’d anticipated.
Boy #1: Guy I have a big crush on tells me that he’s waiting on another girl’s answer and would love to go with me — if she says no. Screw that.
Boy #2: Cute guy from another town says it’s too far for him drive. I later conclude he’s gay (for other reasons).
Boy #3: Super hot guy who’s been finished high school for two years already replies that he has to ask his parents if it’s okay. Comes back and says no. Turns out he’s Jehovah’s Witness, so maybe that has something to do with it.
Boy #4: Quiet, shy friend says he’ll think about it. Finally he agrees, though he seems pretty nervous.
So, after three failed attempts and a near fourth, I pull together my somewhat damaged ego and start preparing for prom. Never wanting to do anything by the book, I choose an all-black pantsuit from Le Chateau in lieu of a frilly prom dress. It has a thin spaghetti-strap halter top which my mother vetoes as soon as she catches a glimpse. “You’ve got to change that top!” she insists, seemingly ignoring the fact that my pantsuit covers me from chest to toe, without a single glimpse of skin. So I take it to a seamstress and have thicker straps added. With thick straps instead of spaghetti straps, I’m suddenly modest and appropriate in my parents’ eyes.
I vacuum my parents’ minivan and pull up in front of my date’s house in an old Toyota Sienna. Apparently, he didn’t know he was supposed to get me a corsage until that very morning when his little sister informed him, so there was a mad scramble to find a local florist who could put one together in time. Kudos to him, he managed to pull it off. He’d even bought a nice suit with a pea-coloured shirt and looked very nice.
The evening went fairly well, aside from the fact that my poor date seemed to get progressively more nervous as the hours passed. We only danced together once, which was fine. I just danced with my single friends instead who seemed to be having a whole lot more fun than I was. I guess they were right — having a date wasn’t really all it was cracked up to be. I dropped him off at home and went to a friend’s after-party where a group of emotional girls ended up having a spontaneous and depressing psychiatric session, talking about all the many challenges of our lives. We found out about one girl’s unwanted pregnancy that ended in miscarriage and another girl’s physically abusive relationship. It was anything but a rollicking party, and definitely not your typical prom.
As I drove home, washed off the makeup, and climbed into bed, I thought with a sense of relief, “Thank god I never have to go through that again!” So, yeah, that was my prom. It sucked. In retrospect, though, it makes for a funny story.