My Junior Prom

Purple-Wisteria-in-Japan

Pictures  from the internet are for illustration purposes only.

It was 1951, I was sixteen and this was my first prom. I was dating Bill, the handsomest boy in school (so I thought.)  He was six foot two, had Paul Newman blue eyes, blond hair, a champion basketball player, and track star (high hurdles). I was the envy of all my friends.

Prom dressmagesThe dress!  Light blue tulle, full skirted, which showed off my tiny waist–I had one then.  The butterflies started fluttering at least a week before the big night as we girls ran around trading dances.  No one danced all night with their date. We traded. The dances were numbered on our dance  program.  As each dance was announced,  we scurried around looking for the guy.  Traditionally you had to dance the first and last dance with your date.  If you loved him, you traded only a few.  If, on the other hand, he was a real dud, but better than staying home, you exchanged as many as you could.

It was three days before the dance when the bomb hit…Bill had an out-of-town,  make-up track meet that day. “Don‘t worry,” he said nonchalantly, “Clairene, (his twin sister) and Bob will pick you up. I’ll meet you there.  We won’t be late.”

corsageSounded simple enough.  Clairene  brought Bill’s flowers, a beautiful wrist corsage of purple violets with a white bow.  I clutched the box and climbed into the back seat–alone.

The gym was transformed. The junior class had worked on it all day.  Our theme, perfume 2mages“Evening in Paris,” our favorite fragrance.    So the Eiffel tower tilted a bit (we hoped it wouldn’t topple!) Abundant fake, deep purple wisteria blossoms covered our crude construction.  Silver and blue crepe paper stretched to create an intimate atmosphere. Excitement throbbed with the music:  “I Wanna Be Loved by You,”Andrews sisters, “Mona Lisa,” Nat King Cole, Harbor Lights, Sammy Kay. (We were slow dancers in those days which meant we kinda hugged each other…nice!)

The first dance came, no Bill. The second, the third. I played with my coke nervously couples slow danceand tried to ignore all the side-long glances and whisperings. Bob, Clairene’s date, danced a couple of times with me.  I could see the side-long glances.   Intermission.  I shrunk inwardly and tried to become invisible as I fled to the bathroom, locked myself in the stall and wept. The bathroom filled  with laughing, chattering girls.  The stall door rattled, I held my breath.  The bathroom became quiet and I was about to emerge when I heard  Sally and Peggy talking, “Can you believe it, she came stag.  Now that takes guts…”

“Irene Good Night”  was echoing when he arrived.  I was so angry I couldn’t even look at him as he stuttered his way through a story of falling and…I didn’t care that he had fallen, and was one big “strawberry” from head to toe or that the bus had a flat tire.

I was heart dancing couplestiff in his arms as we stumbled through the last dance. The ride home was silent with atmosphere so thick you could cut it with the proverbial knife and me hugging the car door waiting to escape. All my dreams of the perfect night had turned into a nightmare.  The wheels had hardly stopped turning when I slammed out of the car and fled into the house.  No, there is no happy ending here… I did not marry Bill.

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