Prom night. 1988. I’m wearing a black and white dress, short platinum blonde hair, and fingerless gloves. I think I am a rockstar. My date is wearing a black/silver jacket, imported boots, and purple hair. Niether of us has a car or a license because our parents think we are “too reckless” and “unpredictable”. We listen to the Sid and Nancy soundtrack on cassette in his mom’s car stereo while she drives us to Chi Chi’s. We eat. She shops at Lazarus. I dream about the moment he turns to me and says…”Let’s run away, get matching tattoos, and move into a warehouse.” He dreams about a guy named Chad. We get to prom at his school, not mine. He moved the year before. I don’t know anyone. We dance to Talking Heads and skip all of the slow songs…because those are for real dates. At afterprom, he disappears with his crush and I fall asleep listening to the Cure on a walkman. At 3a.m. he tells me that we don’t have a ride home. I’m already heartbroken, now I’m just annoyed. I throw my prom glass at him and it breaks between his feet. He says…”Don’t worry, we can get a ride with a chaperone. We get back to his apartment at 5a.m., eat oatmeal, and watch a Siouxsie and the Banshees concert. My father picks me up at 6 and asks if I got drunk or stayed in a hotel. I said…”No I didn’t. Sorry, no debauchery to report. I’m in love with a gay boy. And my prom night was a John Hughes film.” The next year my group of friends and I skip prom and go dateless to afterprom. A metalhead in my woodworking class asked me but I said no. I was too moody to handle a night with Megadeth (my nickname for him). My other friend got asked by my crush. All of us pressured her to say no because this was a “girls only night”. Really, we were just pissed that she got asked by the skateboarder from Florida. And so there they are…my proms. Now, this is what I think a normal prom probably looks like. A month before prom a quarterback asks a cheerleader to prom. She says yes. He gets the tickets. She obsesses over a dress and shoes. All of the chearleaders shop together so that none of them end up wearing the same thing. The cheerleader’s father gives her his credit card and says…”Don’t worry about price. You only have one senior prom.” So, she gets the dress that everyone wants, killer shoes, gloves, a matching purse, and other things that have nothing to do with prom… because she has a blank plastic check. After shopping all day everyone gets pizza and talks about who’s getting the alcohol. A few weeks before prom, the quarterback reserves a room at an expensive hotel and rents a limo. On prom night, he shows up in a tuxedo, pins a corsage on her, her parents take pictures, and they step into the rented night. They dance to every slow dance, he tells her that he loves her and even when they leave for college, they will stay together. She believes him. They’re both young and drunk. The night ends in a hotel room. She comes home after the sun rises and no one cares if she had sex or whiskey. This is the only night that it is perfectly ok to do everything that your parents forbid for 12 years. In fact, your parents are happy that you did prom right. I mean… did what everyone else did. I’m not angry that this wasn’t my prom. If it had been, I would have forgotten it. My prom was Blondie and Iggy Pop dancing to David Byrne. No one could forget that.
About Ara Harris
Music junkie, Atari 2600 bringer backer, word maker upper, loves to photograph and write about suburban decay. Ara grew up on a corner lot in small town Ohio. She began escaping the micro minds of the Midwest by listening to music, watching b films, and touring the cities in her mind. She wrote poetry on the back of algebra tests and asked Lou Reed to take her to prom. Two decades later she self published a full collection of poetry that one reader described as “a Tom Verlaine riff in every synapse”. She believes that we all have a gift, we just have to find it.