A Tale of Proming, by Birm
I was born a cynic…
After reading Dwanollah’s rant on the Prom, I started thinking about my Prom, and it couldn’t have been more different if we tried. I don’t ever remember fantasizing about Prom, worrying about who I’d go with, what I’d wear… I never concerned myself with going to the formals, although I did go to the school dances and summoned up the courage to ask most of the guys I wanted to dance with to dance. What was the worst they could do? Say no? And if they did, there was always the bathroom to run and hide in until the song was over….
So, by the time I was a Senior in 1986, I had already resolved that I didn’t want any of ‘those Prom Hassles’. I didn’t want to deal with pressures of boyfriends. I didn’t want to worry about finding people to hang with. My best friend at the time and I decided we’d go with our best friends. No pressures, no hassles, we knew we liked everyone, we knew we could have a good time. Piece of cake.
We also didn’t have the tens of thousands of hundreds of dollars to waste on trivialities.
I never had finger nails. I played bass guitar in a garage band and couldn’t have them. I didn’t have hair to curl, so I didn’t need to worry about that either. I think the most prep work I did was tanning in the backyard starting in April because my dress my strapless. (And that, my friends, was the biggest laugh of all. Me, 118 lb. nothing, with no cleavage, trying to hold up a strapless dress. I spent most of the evening with my elbows against my ribcage ‘just in case’…real flattering, yeah….)
The dress…I did pay attention to my dress. And deep down, there was a girly-girl in there. I had gone out on Senior Cut-Out day to the Mall with several friends and we spent the day going from store to store to store trying on gowns. That was so much fun. That much I do remember, but again, I didn’t have the tens of thousands of hundreds of dollars to spend on a dress. I had a sister-in-law who was a seamstress and we went out one Saturday, looked at dress patterns, combined patterns, found materials and lace and ribbons and we designed my dress. Not a chance of anyone showing up in the same dress!
What I settled on was a full length, strapless with a lace overlay on the skirt. The material was a lavender satin, white lace and it was lifted at the bottom in small gathers by ribbon. I had the idea of being very Scarlett - ‘Gone With The Wind’ - Fiddle-dee-dee – but the ribbons were too thin…and I don’t have black hair, or green eyes, or porcelain skin.
So, I went as me, with my best friends and didn’t worry about it. Kedward, my ‘date’ – someone I considered a brother and also my very first boyfriend way back when in 9th grade took a swatch of material and found a cummerbund to match perfectly. He wore a white tux and we looked stunning together; My Keward n’Me. The Rhythm section of the band – he played drums. J
There are pictures. Lots of them. I don’t remember much of the prom. What I do remember is walking into the Sheraton Hotel Ballroom and finding that the boys that generally pushed and shoved you down the hallway or paid no attention to you at all, were suddenly…gentlemen? They opened doors for you. They pulled out chairs. They complimented you on your dress. Don’t remember what we had for dinner, or who all we sat with outside of the 4 of us that came in our Escort. (Again, not having tens of hundreds of thousands of dollars - I washed my mother’s Escort the day of and I drove. No need for a Limo.) We danced to Frank Sinatra ‘New York, New York’ with our Urban Studies teacher. Some acquaintances danced to ‘Rock Lobster’ and were on the floor, with their gowns up to their ears kicking their feet. And Keward and my best friend’s date dedicated ‘The Greatest Love of All’ (Whitney Houston) to De and myself.
After Prom…we decided to basically blow off the After Prom Parties. We weren’t about to kid ourselves that anyone really wanted us there. No one ever really gave us an invite or an address. Instead, we tanked up the Escort and drove all over Long Island, ending up on a pier in Bayshore at sunrise slapping mosquitoes, singing our garage-band songs, and laughing.
Once the sun rose, we went to The Mod; The Diner – where we basically grew up. We knew the waitresses. We spent hours upon hours at the corner booth, learning how to smoke, drinking hot chocolate and cokes. We went Christmas Caroling every December through the diner. We went after every final exam to lament about how poorly we thought we did. We went after band practise. We went after lessons. It was the only place we would consider going. And the waitresses and patrons ooh’ed and aah’d at us, wished us the best and reminisced about their Proms.
I went home, slept for 3 hours and went out to a Graduation Party. The day after, we had the Graduation ceremony which was a complete let down for many, many reasons... Another graduation party and the day after that, I started my summer job, ending the summer by leaving to go to college in Upstate New York.
So, was it ‘Everything I Expected It to be and More’? Probably not. But I didn’t start out thinking it was going to be a night of all nights. I went with the closet friends I had at the time and made sure we had one night all four of us could remember. The best part about Prom was standing on the pier at sunrise with my four best friends, dressed to the hilt and feeling like I was in some kind of movie. It was quiet, our voices echoed over the water and we just knew this was a moment frozen in time just for us.
And it was.
Birm and Date at Prom
Birm and Gang.