Today’s Friday the 13th.
And today is also my daughter’s prom.
So it’s like two bad horror movies mashed together.
And, like the anticipation of a horror movie, I’m experiencing dread and concern the almost uncontrollable urge to peer out between fingers pressed to my eyes, ready to close off any offending vision.
My wife chauffeured my daughter around last night, getting her pedicure, her manicure and even getting her arms waxed. That last one is a horror even I couldn’t think up. It’s not like my daughter’s a gorilla, far from it. It’s not even like she has dark hair on her arms. She doesn’t. Yet, apparently somehow, against all logic and reason, someone in some shop somewhere convinced her this was A Good Thing To Do.
Okay…I’m a guy. I don’t even pretend to understand. Nor do I ever want to.
That’s just messed up.
Anyway, that was last night. All nails and limbs are shiny and smooth.
Today, more chauffeuring as my daughter heads off to get face and hair dialled in. It’s all about the melon today. She’s getting fussed over like a movie star.
And my guess is, that’s sort of what prom’s all about.
I can remember my prom. Both of them. Back in the day, we had both a Grade 12 prom and a Grade 13 prom, so you actually got a chance for a do-over if you buggered it up the first time.
In Grade 12, I was tall, pimply, had a bad leftover-from-the-70s hairstyle, glasses and you could spit through me. 6’3” and about a buck-thirty.
Yes, ladies, I was a catch.
Anyway, somehow, despite the odds, I managed to somehow convince the most beautiful girl in the school—Stephanie—to attend the prom as my date. And how did I manage this miracle of miracles? Was it some sort of Hollywood story of the stunning beauty realizing all along that the geek was who she wanted, not the tall blonde football star.
Steph was, at the time, dating a member of the Ontario Provincial Police. Let’s call him Constable Syborg. Anyway, Sneaky Syborg was not a respected member of the force from a teen point of view. He seemed to carry a grudge for anyone still in high school, taking any opportunity to bust the ass of any student who had the temerity to step out of line.
So, obviously Steph couldn’t bring him to the prom as her date. He’d arrest everyone in five minutes and prom night would end with a ton of paperwork and the town’s police station looking like one of those “how many students can we jam in a single cell” events.
So, instead, she agreed to attend with yours truly. And, in case you’re wondering, yes, all I’m thinking now as I write this is, “dude! What the hell were you thinking?” What I was thinking was I was the geek going to Grade 12 prom with Steph. It all got blurry after that.
Anyway, I spent a lot of money on a corsage. It was an orchid, I remember that. I picked up Steph, we went to dinner with a few other friends of mine. Conversation was…awkward. It should be stated that, at this point, I’d never had a girlfriend. Hell, I’d never had a date.
Anyway, things got decidedly more interesting once we hit the actual dance. Yes kids, the prom was actually held at the school. The same place as every other dance I’d attended. Anyway, there was a point where Steph and I broke apart to spend time with our friends. At least, that’s what I thought. Steph disappeared.
I actually remember one of my friends stating, “You lost your date?” Then laughing. So, I had to go off in search of her, visions of the Syborg arresting me for Criminal Neglect of my Prom Date or something like that.
When I couldn’t find her in the school, I took a walk around the outside of it. And, as I turned a corner to head toward the smoking area, I came unexpectedly face to face with someone else.
He’d volunteered to work the prom.
Of course he had.
So we stood there, eyeing each other up. He, in full OPP regalia, face in stern cop mode, handgun on hip. The gun probably outweighed me. He definitely did.
After about twelve years of stare down, I said something along the lines of, “Have a good evening,” and walked around him. I swear I felt the heat of the twin lasers of his death stare frying into the back of my bushy bad 70s hair.
Eventually, I found her. Spiking her punch from a small bottle of vodka.
So, any other red-blooded male likely would have thought, “Huh! Vodka! Panty-remover!” Me? I thought, “Oh crap! Syborg’s gonna kill me.”
Long story short, Steph got a little twisted, we danced, we avoided the moron who kept peeling off his cowboy boots and tossing them in the air on the dance floor. And no, I don’t mean a short little toss a couple of feet in the air, I mean taking these things and launching them a good twenty feet toward the ceiling so they could build up a killing velocity on the way back down toward all those bad 70s hairstyles.
Anyway, after the prom, there was an AfterProm party. And yes, we of course, went. So we hit my house on the way and Steph and I changed into Normal People clothes, got back into the Blazer and headed off to the AfterProm.
I have to say, at this point, things were going better. Likely because Steph was a little twisted, the conversation came easier for both of us. It was a good fifteen or twenty miles to the party, and we chatted all the way.
Then, we neared the turnoff to the party, being held at someone’s lakeside cottage. There seemed to be quite a line up of cars waiting to turn off.
Then I clued in.
They were stopping each car.
I said as much to Steph. She looked over at me prettily, reached into her small purse, drew out the mostly, but not quite finished bottle of vodka, and said, “Oops!”
Did I mention by this time we were within about five cars of the cops? Well within visual range if someone…say…your prom date…decided to try and toss evidence into the ditch at the side of the road. Steph kind of giggled again, but I could hear the nervousness creeping in. “What do you think I should do with this?” She waggled the bottle. The alcohol sloshed obscenely.
“Shit!” I said. “I don’t know!”
She cunningly hid the bottle beneath her seat. Yes, Steph, they’ll never look there. “Don’t say anything,” I said.
But it was too late to rethink her decision. We were next in line. The cop waggled his flashlight to get me to pull forward. I did so. I came level with the cop.
The cop was Syborg.
Of course it was.
“Evenin’,” he said.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hey Kev,” Steph said. I don’t even think I knew Syborg’s first name before then. I glanced at her in what I hoped was my best “what part of ‘don’t say anything’ did you not understand” look.
He shone his flashlight around the interior of the Blazer, searching out contraband. I swear I saw his nostrils twitching in their relentless search for illegal substances.
“Still partyin’?” he asked. Though unspoken, I could hear the “with my girlfriend?” that lay like a soggy turd between us.
“Yes sir,” I said.
He shone the flashlight directly into my face. “Red eyes ‘n all?”
Okay, I hadn’t been drinking. How the hell do I answer that one? “Yes sir. Red eyes and all.”
Obviously it was the wrong answer. His face tightened and he opened his mouth to say something…likely involving a prolonged and painful orifice search with no lubricant. But, in one of those rare occasions where reality is stranger than fiction, one of my classmates, Ambrose, had come up on the line up and, in true Ambrose fashion, felt he had no need to sit in a line up of cars and shot over to the left and tried to jump the line. This resulted in several police officers jumping in his path, hands outstretched in a gesture that ever so clearly enunciated “halt or I’ll shoot you up so bad you’ll look like powdered milk when we’re done with you, farm boy!”
What it did for me was call off the Syborg to more pressing matters…after all, he had to join the chorus line of cops stretching out their hands.
I looked at Steph, she looked at me. We shrugged, I dropped the Blazer back into drive and friggin’ drove.
Two minutes down the road, Steph pulled the bottle back out from under her seat. I sighed.
We hit the party, and I lost her again. This time, I wasn’t successful in finding her. I left the party alone.
But while I was a little bummed that the night hadn’t gone anywhere near the way I’d planned, in the end, there was still…something…there. A feeling of both endings and beginnings.
I’d broken that first date barrier. I’d managed to escape the clutches of a sociopath cop two times.
And I was finished high school. My old world was ending and my new world, the world of an adult, had just begun.
And I felt like a movie star. Like a rock star. I felt invincible.
I felt immortal.
And in the end, isn’t that what prom night is all about?