I get nostalgic every year around prom season. I went to three proms, and my intention was to befriend a junior my senior year, so I could go to one more prom AFTER graduation. That didn’t happen. I had a problem. I was addicted to prom (actually, I was addicted to dressing up, going to fancy dinners, and dancing–to be clear).
The first time anyone at my school was allowed to go to prom was sophomore year and only if an upper class men asked them. I was jealous because Ellie was going with her boyfriend (a senior), and I wouldn’t get to rock with her at prom. Ellie also did not want to rock alone, as she was not even sure how happy she was about prom. Of course, I wanted to go as a freshman, and um, always. But we had a number of junior and senior friends that would be going.
We were in Theatre 101 on a lovely spring day, when the topic of prom arose between me, Bandit, and Tank. BookWorm was there too, but I don’t think she was participating. She was probably reading or something.
“Eh, I’m not going to go to prom,” said Bandit, a lanky junior in our group who only wore dark tones. I once threw a shoe at him for making fun of me (well, Tank was making fun of me too, but Tank was more likely to keep my shoe, and he was further away). I think he mentioned it (the shoe, that is) every time it came up, which was a surprising amount of times. It DID leave a scar.
“You HAVE to go to prom!” I exclaimed. “You only get two proms.”
“I don’t have a date,” Bandit said. I still think this is a lame reason to not go to a dance in high school.
“Who cares?” I cried. I am pretty outspoken on traditional views regarding dances. Don’t get me started on a Britta rant about Sadie Hawkins. It’s not the full rant, and it doesn’t start until 1:19, but since Hulu doesn’t have an individualized clip of the full rant, I have to include that. “It’s one of the few times you’ll actually get to do it. Years from now when people ask you if you went to prom, you should be able to say yes. Besides, you wouldn’t be the only person without a date. Think of all the girls you could dance with.”
“You mean, all the girls that have dates,” Bandit corrected me.
“Like you’re going to dance every single dance with your date,” I scoffed. “There are probably already girls who are planning to go as a group without dates.” Even if you only dance ONE dance with someone other than your date, this is a good thing. It can be a fast/swing dance! The exception to this is if you go to a wedding where a bunch of your high school friends are, and you’ve dated, liked, or been liked by all the guys your age. Then I think it’s acceptable, even encouraged, to just stick to dancing with your date. Just a theory, no evidence on this of course…
“You could be my date,” Bandit ventured.
“Very funny,” I said. Why would someone I threw a shoe at once want to go to a dance with me? We also did this scene where Bandit, Tank, and I couldn’t stop laughing during practice (because prop doors are hilarious?), so we kept having to say “Dead Cat” in order to get through it with a straight face. I was idea for Dead Cat/Shoe Throwing Girl. Not Date to Prom Girl.
“I’m serious. Do you want to go with me?” Bandit asked. (Great, now that I posted the Austin Powers link, I’m picturing Bandit with a British accent. Probably would’ve helped.)
“You don’t want to go to a dance with me,” I shook my head. I wasn’t doing it because I had low self-esteem. I was doing it, because now I was starting to get the suspicion that Bandit liked me. I didn’t want to hurt him, but I was also torn. I REALLY wanted to go to prom, and I didn’t want to be the girl who used someone just to go to prom. (This carried through to many instances of dating later on of NOT wanting to screw people over. It still happened, but not like this.)
“Why not? It’d be fun,” Bandit said.
This is something guys (and girls) often say to get you to do something that they don’t want you to see as a serious commitment. I’m pretty sure Rhett says it to Scarlett when he’s trying to convince her to marry him.
“I’d be a boring date,” I think I said. I am not, by the way, a boring date. I am an AWESOME date.
“You would not be a boring date,” Bandit said.
“I’ll think about it,” I said.
“I’m not going to go if you don’t go with me,” Bandit informed me.
That was some serious emotional entrapment. This was pairing my belief that someone should do a milestone event with the fact that I didn’t want to go to the dance with this person, and also muddling the matter with the fact that I REALLY wanted to go to prom.
“Fine,” I agreed. “I’ll go.”
After school, Tank told me it was nice that I had decided to go with Bandit.
“I said yes, but I don’t know.”
“You can’t take it back!” Tank was enraged. “You’re thinking of not going to prom with Bandit? After you told him that you would? The dude LIKES you!”
I was terrified of guys who liked me.
“If that’s true, then I really shouldn’t go with him,” I said. “How’s he gonna feel by the end of the night when he likes me more, and we’re still not going to happen?”
Then Tank proceeded to yell at me until I began to cry. My friend Mikey was walking by, and he calmed me down and told Tank he was an asshole for making me cry. I did NOT have to go to the dance if I didn’t want to, he told me.
Confused, I asked my mom when I got home. She told me that if I said I would go, then I should. She also said that I would contribute to someone going to prom who wouldn’t go under normal circumstances, which was very sweet of me. Also, I might have fun.
So I kept my promise. But deep down, I recognized something that astrology books say about me that I wouldn’t read until years later. That I have a knack for letting people down at exactly the wrong moment. JR and I had a conversation about break ups and defining relationships, and I said I would give him advice, but as far as carrying it out, I am the worst.
I knew this, even as a sophomore with limited dating experience. It’s something you recognize inside you. Which is why Kate used to be my favorite character on Lost.
This anxiety went on. Ellie and I went to buy dresses for prom. Ellie was glad to have an ally, especially one as conflicted about prom as she was. She found a dress, and I still hadn’t found one until the day of prom when I went to the mall with my mom.
“It’s white,” my mom said.
“I like it.”
“That’s a wedding dress color,” my mom said.
My mom realized fighting with me was useless, and we focused instead on how to make my lady parts not show through my dress.
When I was getting ready at Ellie’s house, I still wanted to bolt. Ellie told me to focus on the actual fun of prom and not about the worry of how to act with my date.
We ate at this quaint little restaurant, and then departed to the dance. It was held in this beautiful old building downtown. The dance itself was fun. They played a lot of faster paced dances, and I got to see Ted pull out his dance moves that never failed to embarrass Ellie or thrill me. I always felt like an idiot when I danced, but Ted never cared what people thought of his dancing. This made me feel better about mine. He also claimed that one of the juniors always made Ted feel more at ease about his dancing. We ended up walking around the dance floor until we saw him, and Ted was relaxed, and I was more relaxed.
You know how Napoleon Dynamite dances? It’s kind of like that…only less hip thrusting.
Bandit kept giving me this strange smile while we danced, which made me uncomfortable. The last two to three dances were three slow ones in a row. I got in one dance with a senior I had a crush on (a fleeting, girly crush that made me feel special when he talked to me).
On the last dance, Bandit looked down at me. He was really tall, and I was in 6 inch white heels, but I could still easily avoid his gaze.
“I have a confession,” he said, which is never a good start to something. I wanted to hide, but it’s hard to run away on the last dance of prom A) without looking suspicious, B) with aforementioned heels, and C) when your date is the driver.
I cringed, hopefully just on the inside. “You know what? You probably shouldn’t say whatever it is you’re about to say.” At least, I think that’s what I said. I may have just said, “Okaaaay.”
“I really like you. I would like to go on a date with you sometime this summer.”
This was new territory for me. I wasn’t used to guys declaring their love for me, at least not without a messenger in between where I could say, “Thanks, but no thanks.” I had to be gentle. How could I be gentle?
“Thank you. That’s really sweet of you, but I can’t.”
Because I don’t like you? Because I only did this so you would have a good time and now you’re ruining it by making this statement that you have to see is making me feel like an awful human being?
I stared off into the distance and tried to look remorseful but determined. “Because I like someone else.”
I did like someone else, so that was true.
“Oh okay. Well, I still had a wonderful time.”
“Good, me too.” Except for the awkward part where you confessed your love for me.
On the ride back, Ted and Ellie made our lives stellar by making out hardcore in the back of Bandit’s vehicle. It was not weird at all. We listened to Moby, made awkward conversation, and I was very relieved when the night ended when I got dropped off.
Fortunately, that was NOT my only prom.