Everyone has that magical prom story. Whether it was the night they fell in love with their significant other, the time they danced so much they were sore the next day, or just overall the greatest night in their high school career, prom is guaranteed to be a night to remember and smile upon.
Excuse me for bucking the trend.
I hated prom, and not for a lack of trying. I did everything I could to make it a night to remember, but sometimes, it’s just not in the cards. Fate is a funny force, it can bequeath you an abundance of happiness or it can simply teach you a lesson. Maybe that lesson is to go to prom single, maybe it is choose your date wisely, I’m not completely sure. What I do know is my senior prom was something I won’t forget, but God knows I try.
NOTE: Out of respect for my friends and the other students in this story, I won’t mention specific names.
Background: A year prior to my senior prom, I was swaying back and forth on a decision to go to our junior prom. I eventually decided against the dance, but I did go to the group dinner. It was a strange feeling to be semi-dressed up while everyone else was decked out and looking stunning. All they could talk about, besides the prices at the restaurant, were all the different things they were going to do at prom. I could only smile and nod. After the dinner, all my friends were prepping to go have fun, and I was getting in my car to go home. It was, to me, embarrassing, and something I told myself I wouldn’t do again. I would have fun at my final high school dance, and this was big coming from a guy who had a panic attack at homecoming once (no lie).
So fast forward to 2006, senior prom is on the horizon, and I have only two girls to ask out. Not only did both say no, but two of my best friends ask me permission to ask those same two girls out. I couldn’t say no, but I guess I respect the act of asking for my permission. The girls say yes to my friends, so there’s that floating around me. Well, one day, a friend of mine and I were talking, she’s going by herself, I’m going by myself, so we decided to go together, not as an official couple but just together.
The day of the prom came, and I was nervous. I made sure my tux was wrinkle-free, my hair was nice and gelled, and my confidence at an all-time high. My dad decided to drive me and my date to a friend’s house for pictures, but first we had to pick her up. We were a little bit early, and right away, things became awkward when her dad opened the door. Formality required us to talk about where I was going to college and as I’m telling him FSU, I notice all the UF flags outside his house. Hardcore Gators fan, he is. After about a minute of meeting the family, my date came out, and she dropped my jaw. STUNNING. I couldn’t believe how lucky I was, she was wearing all black, some nice heels, and her dress was cut down the middle so as to show some leg.
I was sold. How could she know me so well?
Then, I couldn’t believe what happened next (No, I didn’t get jumped by my date).
As we’re taking pictures, another car pulls up in the driveway. Another kid we went to school with, this guy who is my date’s best guy friend (but they’re not dating, go figure) pops in, and HE wants to take pictures, too, minus me. Well, since I’m not dating her, I don’t really mind, but I can’t say I wasn’t perturbed by the whole situation. Even my dad, who’s pretty stoic in public, whispers to me, “What the f*** is this about?”
Thankfully, the guy, let’s call him D, didn’t ask to hitch a ride with us to get photos taken. We go to my friend’s house, meet up with our other buddies who will be joining us for the limo ride, and get through all the photos. Limo ride is fine, but I’m mostly talking to my buddy, C. C is one of those guys I mentioned above who was going with a girl I wanted to go with, but I didn’t mind; I care enough about our friendship to let something like that get in the way.
We head to dinner, which was good, but not amazing. Maybe I should’ve gotten the hint that prom may be the same way. About an hour later, we’re at prom, and I’ve already stepped on my date’s dress at least twice. She immediately starts to leave me, going to find D to dance with, or anyone to dance with, since I’m a stiff. Most of the night, I’m gliding through the masses of couples grinding on each other while pretending to look cool with a coke in my hand. Eventually, I see my date, and we hook up for a slow dance or two, but it’s pretty rough. I look in her eyes, and I can see she can’t wait to have some fun instead of the required slow dance with the guy she came with.
I’m not even at the worst part of the night. Something was in the air that night because at one point, I actually started to dance. Surrounded by my friends who could care less how I groove, I started to just let go and have some fun. Why not, right? Here I am, thinking I conquered a fear, and I can persuade my date to join in. Guess again, Joe. On the flip side, my date spied her ex-boyfriend dancing with his soon to be new girlfriend, and she loses it, starts bawling and has to leave the scene pretty quickly.
After the dance, we were all going to sleep over at another friend’s brother’s house, and I wish I could tell you the night got less awkward. NOPE. During the limo ride back, my date kept crying, and I’m sitting there fiddling my thumbs. It wasn’t a picnic for me, either, and not because I had to listen to her sob. The girl I really wanted to go with at the time was on her way to start dating her future husband, and I was holding in my frustration all night, especially seeing them hold hands.
But you know, it was a learning experience, the whole night. Looking back, all the drama seems petty and pretty ridiculous. The rest of that night was spent talking with friends until the wee hours of the morning. We were treated to breakfast, said goodbye, and went our separate ways. At this point, I can’t handle any more drama, I’m fatigued by it. I go home, my parents are asking me about the dance, and then they say, “Joe, you won’t believe what happened last night.” Apparently, the night before, my grandfather slipped on some stairs and busted his hip, sending him to the hospital. While he would eventually recover just fine physically, we think this accident accelerated his Alzheimer’s.
It’s amazing how one night could be filled with enough drama for even Charlie Sheen to overdose on. A rollercoaster is the only way I can describe my senior prom, but that’s part of growing up, especially in high school. Usually, there’s that singular event that snaps someone out of all the high school bull crap and makes you start focusing on things that matter. For me, it was prom, so I guess I wouldn’t have had it any other way.