February

2000

Prom

I have come to think that by attending my Senior Prom I violated an essential law of nature.

People like me are supposed to stay home and commisserate with other acne-ridden dejected nerds, not make one last sad attempt to assimilate into the social order before it is too late. So I went. I even had a “date,” if you consider somebody I’d met maybe three times and who just wanted to go to the Garfield prom because all her friends would be there and her own school’s prom bit the wax tadpole a date, and I was on the ball. Rock!

So myself and Melora (date) were set up, I shelled out for the tickets, and went on my merry way to get fitted for a tuxedo. Now, in Seattle, tuxedo shops employ high school students to serve, essentially, as walking billboards for their establishments. Once every couple of weeks or so, you would be treated to the disingenuous spectacle of a high school kid in full formal dress, walking around like nothing was wrong in the world.

But I digress. Anyways, I headed down to get fitted for my chimpsuit, staunchly putting up with the pokes and prods at my delicate underbelly, and I eventually went into the fitting room to strap myself into the thing.

I emerged to find two of my school’s more notorious slope-browed retards, Dathan and Aaron, rich motherfuckers without a goddamned care in the world. I winced inwardly, sure my appearance would provide a source of chortles to these two for years to come. To their credit, they refrained from actually laughing in my face, despite my multiple fumblings with cumberbund, bow tie, and the English language, and I got out with my skin intact.

Thanks to my mom’s unilateral quick thinking, I managed to gather the necessary requirements (corsage, etc) and was all set to embark on what would be, in her wise words,”probably not the best night of my life, but try to have fun anyways.”

I love you, Mom. I left the corsage on the sink.

So we went out to dinner, and with my misplaced trailer-park sense of gender roles I insisted on paying for everything, despite the fact that my date’s parents could probably buy my dad if they wanted to, and then we followed the evening’s natural course to the beach club place that the damn thing was at.

Walking in, the first sight to meet our eyes was two giant flaming torches, straight out of Lord of the Flies. The whole place was an aesthetic monstrosity, decked out in lovely purple and white, our school colors. I think there was an ice sculpture too, but my sensitive brain has thankfully blocked out any details. But, on the good side,there were enormous trays of desserts and a sad excuse for a “bartender” distributing Sprite to all the kiddies. Ah, but some had dispensed with the Sprite altogether, as Michele and Jenny made an appearance, looking as lovely and graceful as one can whilst bombed out of one’s mind on sangria, and cemented themselves a place in history by vomiting all over Mrs. Rolfson, the guidance counselor. I’d wanted to do that dozens of times.

Not particularly feeling the need to dance to the limp, recycled honky R&B swill being piped out of an unusually tiny sound system by a DJ one step up from providing music for aerobics classes, I decided to cause some trouble. Borrowing a fellow student’s videocamera, I entrusted Pauls as my trusty cameraman, and, putting on my best whipped pooch face, began going up to the girls in thehighest strata of the popularity gorge; the cheerleaders, the dimbulbs and the rich. Pauls (the s is silent, all…) remained tastefully out of range as I walked up to them in mid-dance and began my shpeil.

“uh…hi…melanie…uh…i know, i know you don’t know me too well and you…you don’t…uh…like me…or can even…uh…well…i just wanted…i mean, because…to ask…would you d…would you d…d…d…do you want to da…would you…with me…like to d…d…”

I reveled in the expressions of disgust and confusion. Goddamnit, I was gonna ruin this night for everyone!

Taking a brief pause to get our pictures taken, (Gents, if you have a date taller than you, panic! Buy special shoes! Do something!) Pauls and I ended the tape under the guttering torchlight. I waxed and waned philosophical. My mind was galvanized by the cool night air, and I felt closer to truth than I had in a long, long time.

Then we went inside and danced to “Whoomp! There It Is!”

We entrusted the camera with the vice principal, Mr. Smith,and proceeded to ride out the next hour or so, happy and confident. I wanted to watch the video, but as we went to reclaim the camera, it was gone! Somebody had decided to add a little larceny to their Prom and heist Daniel’s videocamera. A little defused, we proceeded to Jackson’s for a requisite afterparty. Oh la la! Those carefree days of youth!

I rapidly sunk into a deep depression, and after managing to bum several other mellows with my unrelenting grimness, decided I needed to get out of there, and headed to another party, this one close enough to my house that I could walk home. By doing so, I narrowly avoided being carjacked, a fate that befell many of my friends as they left Jackson’s later that evening.

At this other party, listening to everybody talk about their grand and glorious futures spreading out in front of them, I tried to find someplace to hide, and realized that there was no place left. All space had been taken by hope and dreams and lives to be lived, and all I wanted was a little silence and a little happiness and to watch that goddamned video.

It was then that I decided to run away from home and never come back.