Perhaps it's the recent Disney movie, the Tweets about YA prom books, or seeing the local high school girls decked out in great dresses on an evening not too long ago that triggered something in my clogged memory and reminded me of my own close encounter with THE PROM.
No one asked me, and I was too terrified to ask anyone. I was relieved. I didn't really want to be on display. Invisibility was my preference.
It was the day before the prom, and my friend Renee and I went over to our friend Kim's house. I'm not sure why exactly because I think Kim was still at boarding school. Renee and I ended up talking to a college student, Robin, who happened to live at Kim's house.
Robin was beautiful in the most Malibu-long legged-blonde hair-perfect tan-white teeth kind of way. She was also very sweet. She cooed over the details of Renee's dress and handsome date. Then, when she heard I wasn't going, Robin became unglued.
"Michele, you have to go. If you don't, you'll regret it for the rest of your life!"
"No, really, it's okay. I don't need to go."
"No, you have to go to the prom. It only happens once."
Robin smiled. "I know, I can set you up with one of my friends!"
She flashed me a picture of two guys who shared a house in the neighborhood.
I gulped as I studied the picture. "They look a little old."
"They're both thirty and really nice."
Thirty? To my eighteen-year-old eyes, a thirty-year-old man was close to ancient. And what was up with those mustaches? Full blown firefighter facial hair. Plus they both kind of looked like they were still stuck in the Saturday Night Fever era. Disco was very scary (it still is).
"I'm sure one of them would love to go with you." Robin called their house and left a message on their machine.
"What about a dress? I don't have a dress." I wasn't that fond of dresses anyway. If I had to wear one, I preferred dark and shapeless.
"Oh, you can wear my pageant gown!"
Robin participated actively in beauty pageants. At that time she was a recent runner up in Miss California. She ushered me into her bedroom and pulled out a red sequined gown with gold trim. The front plunged down in a deep V and narrowed down to fit around a small waist and shapely hips. A slit started from the bottom to reveal a length of leg all the way up to the thigh. I looked at the gown and at Robin's perfect figure. I looked down at my own body. I didn't have much in the line of appropriate curves, at least the kind needed to support a dress like that.
Robin didn't seem to think it would be a problem. She had plans for my hair, which was also in the awkward stage--a grow out from a horrid short cut. Robin pulled out her electric curlers. Make up would also not be a problem. Robin had about twenty shades of eye shadow just waiting for me.
In the end, Robin's friends were not available, and Robin was disappointed. I, of course, was relieved I would not be attending a teen social event wearing an ill fitting sequined gown with a thirty-year-old mustached man dressed like John Travolta from an outdated movie.
I don't remember what I did on prom night, but it probably involved reading and consuming chocolate chip ice cream.
And Robin, wherever you are, thank you for being so sweet and playing fairy godmother.
Please don't feel bad. I have yet to feel any regret for missing THE PROM.