Even when I was in high school, there were certain high-school attitudes that I didn’t quite understand. I remember overhearing some classmates of mine, freshman year, within a month of starting high school, worrying about which junior or senior they could get to ask them to the prom so that they could go all four years. This didn’t make sense to me, at the time or even now. Prom was a cool dance, sure, but that’s still all it is – a dance. It’s not a big achievement to attend all four years, and it’s not any more potentially life-changing than any other dance, or any other day for that matter.
The other attitude that I didn’t understand then, and still don’t, is the idea that you can’t attend prom (or any event, for that matter) if you don’t have a date. Why should you deprive yourself of a fun experience just because you’re not romantically paired with someone?
I went to prom both my junior and senior years of high school, and my prom experiences were entirely tied in to these attitudes. My junior year, I went to prom alone: as in, I didn’t have a date. I didn’t really go “alone”, because I went with friends, but I didn’t have a date. My senior year, I went to prom with a date, but as part of a larger group of friends.
I had a good time at prom both years, but certain parts of my first prom stand out to me. That year, my friends and I made reservations at a restaurant in a nearby city, about half an hour or so away from our town. For various reasons, the only people who actually came to the dinner were the couple that I was riding with, and me: three of us at a table for twelve.
Because we’d waited for the others before we ordered – this was, of course, before cell phones, so we didn’t know right away that they had all decided not to come – we were a bit later than we’d wanted leaving the restaurant. It was going to take some speedy driving to get to the school in time for the grand march. It had also started raining.
We learned the definition of “hydroplaning” that night, as we rushed from the restaurant along the thirty-five miles back to our hometown. I have no idea how my friend managed to keep the car on the road, because it didn’t seem like the wheels actually touched pavement for the entire drive. We hurried into the school, somewhat bedraggled from the torrents, in just enough time to participate in Grand March. My male friend proudly walked down the “red carpet” with his girlfriend on one arm and me on the other.
I don’t remember much more about the dance itself, or even the after-prom party (except that it went on until about 4am, and I got up at about 7 the next morning to sing in my church choir): like I said, prom is just a dance like any other. I danced with my friends, singing along to Love Shack and the Grease medley mix; won a stereo from the after-prom prizes; and giggled way too much.
Prom itself wasn’t greatly memorable for me – I can’t remember whether some of the images in my head are from my junior year or senior year, or even if they’re from prom or one of the other dances that my school hosted every year. And I know that classmates of mine who worried about prom – who they would go with, what they would wear, or whether they would go – didn’t have a good time, and now look back on it as an overrated high school activity. But for me, it was just like any other part of high school: if I’d tried to make it too significant, I know it would have let me down. As it was, I got to spend a night each year with some of my best friends, looking gorgeous and having fun. What more can you ask from prom?