It was every high school students? nightmares come true: It was prom night. I didn?t have a date. I sat by myself. I wore the wrong clothes. Nobody even noticed I was there. I spent the whole time in the corner. And I left early.
Then again, this happened last Saturday, not in 2008, and I was the sound guy.
Since the Hillsboro High prom marathon began with a formal dinner at my church, I was elected to sit in the sound booth and turn the microphone on and off.
While getting ready for the evening, I seriously considered wearing my tuxedo. But somehow that old teenage angst crept up again, and I chickened out because the other kids might laugh at me.
So I learned that maybe I?m, like, you know, not as, like, mature as I thought I, you know, was.
I also learned that wife Hanna and I have two very different ideas of what prom night is.
Apparently Hanna went to some hippy anarchist school where kids could come and go as they pleased, chew gum during gym class and fire weapons in the hallway.
I?m hyperbolically extrapolating here, but only to use big words.
I realized this after I had returned from the A/V gig, while we were sitting on the front porch, watching the promenade from a distance and eating Chinese takeout.
Apparently at Hanna?s high school, prom consisted of going out to a restaurant with friends before showing up at the dance whenever they felt like it.
The ol? HHS prom routine?though it has changed slightly since my day?is more complicated.
I explained to Hanna that preparations would begin by borrowing a fancy vehicle from a neighbor, which your XXXXXX would then drive to prom.
?So you just find some random person and ask to use their car?? Hanna asked.
I sensed some skepticism, but continued.
The evening officially begins when all the kids pick up their dates, exchange floral peace offerings, and drive the fancy cars to the park, where students, families and friends all congregated to take photos.
?Wait. Everyone just shows up at the park at the same time??
I was beginning to feel like the product of a carnival sideshow, but went on.
Then the kids get back in their cars to drive through the promenade, which is where people from the community line the streets with lawn chairs and cameras to watch the kids drive by in the fancy cars. There?s a red carpet that leads into the school, which is where the guy stops, gets out and opens the door for his date. Then everyone claps as the couple walks inside.
?The proma-what?? Promenade. ?So the parents watch the kids walk into the prom.?
Yes, parents. But also random people from the community.
?Complete strangers just show up to watch for entertainment? Is that safe??
It was here that I started to realize the traditions that had always seemed normal to me where, in fact, a little weird.
Then Hanna wanted to know what happened to the cars that were just left in the middle of the road: the dads from the junior class volunteer to act as valets and drive the vacated antiques to the parking lot.
Then I had to explain how we would have dinner, all together, in the darkened gymnasium, which is also where the dance would be. You know, once we all pitched in to scoot the tables out of the way. Then there was the thing about the sophomore class acting as servers.
?How do you get the sophomores to volunteer??
Oh, it?s mandatory. The teachers say it?s so they know how to plan for the prom the next year.
For the second time that day, I was beginning to feel that old familiar teenage angst wash over me.
Unfortunately, I hadn?t even told her how it all ended: the part where the chaperones locked every single student on a bus at midnight to cart us to Wichita for several more hours of supervised festivities.
I decided not to tell her. She?d probably ditch me to go hang out with her friends, and I?as usual?would spend the rest of the evening alone in the corner.