The Senior Prom — pretty as a picture

It’s hard to believe my Senior Prom was almost exactly 40 years ago today.

I used to have this laminated photo from my Senior Prom.   It was one of those deals where the people putting on the Prom send a professional photographer around from table to table to capture the Magic Moment, and you could buy a copy for a couple bucks to keep as a memento of that Magic Night.  I probably still have a copy stashed away somewhere amidst my piles of storage locker crap.

In the photo, me and a couple of my high school friends are sitting at our table with our dates.  And its amazing, we all look so young and handsome and beautiful and sexy and fresh-faced and wholesome in our rented tuxes and swanky dinner gowns.  I was going to say “innocent” but if you look closely you can see just the hint of this hardened smirk in some of our eyes, because we had all been through so many weird scenes during the course of our senior year that there was already that look of: “Yeah, yeah, but there’s a lot more going on beneath the surface of this nice, bland prom photo than you could ever guess!”

If you look at the photo, you can also see all the bottles of hard liquor sitting on our table that we had smuggled in for the Prom.  We thought we were pretty slick.   Course, shortly after the photo was taken the management swooped down on us and confiscated all our booze.  The bastards!!   Which was probably just as well.  Because I remember I had a nice, creamy buzz going that night anyways.

The other interesting thing about that photo: It captures us at that exact moment when we’re poised between childhood and adulthood.  The Senior Prom is like your first big practice run into adulthood.  The end of our 13-year school careers, and the first step into  the adult world of independence, jobs, careers and marriages (and, amazingly, one of the couples in the photo is still married 40 years later!).

The weird thing for me was, my senior year of high school was one of the most fucked-up years of my life.  Everything went wrong that year.  My 17th year was one disaster inflicted on me after another, from start to finish.  It was one of those years where you’re never quite the same afterwards.  Your psyche is wounded in all sorts of ways you never quite recover from.  Like the relentless pressure from what you experienced melts the steel of your soul and twists it into this gnarled, gargoyle shape.

But by some weird fluke, the three or four week period around Prom time was a relatively normal period for me.  It was like a tiny oasis of normality amidst the swirling sea of abnormality that was my 17th year.  Its like the Gods of Karma decided to ease up on me for just a bit:  “Hey, fellas, this dude’s ready to crack.  Lets throw him this bone just to keep him going.  Lets give him at least one normal moment to remember his senior year by.”

It was a nice, happy, pleasant night for me.  Aside from that,  I don’t remember much else about that Senior Prom.   Which is probably just as well.  Because if I had fucked up in some spectacular way, I’m sure I would have remembered that.



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