back to the Black Table
                 
 

OH, WHAT A NIGHT! THE BLACK TABLE LADIES TALK PROM.

 
   
   
 

Prom: It was a night of teenage majesty with shiny tuxedo shoes, ugly-ass fluffy dresses, and (hopefully) a hidden flask full of Popov's Vodka and Tahitian Treat to take the edge off -- how else could you muster up the confidence to seductively grind your date during " I Wanna Sex U Up"?

For this months' Waxing Off, our ladies strut down memory lane, corsage in hand, and tell us about their fond, forgettable, and repressed memories of that glorious spring evening when they danced so close and danced so slow -- and swore they'd never let us go … Together! Forever!

 

Rachel Elder

In the words of Annie Potts in "Pretty In Pink," "I had a girlfriend who always feels like something's missing: she'll check her keys, she'll count her kids, then she'll realize what's missing -- she never went to prom."

Although I placed much less importance on prom that Andie, Blaine, or even Duckie, the horror was still there. I knew that "prom" was an event I'd have to retell the rest of my life. For fear of "missing out" on some crucial milestone or memory, I decide to go to prom. What I ended up missing out on was just about everything about prom, except for the event itself.

I went to a very, very tiny high school in a very tiny town in a very tiny state, and subsequently, about nine people showed up to my prom, including the farm animals. The "Class of '94" was celebrating -- they were the first class to graduate from our "alternative" prep school -- alternative in the sense that it was a facility for intelligent but smelly offspring of hippies and academics, where positive reinforcement and coddling was doled out in place of letter grades.

There is no way to describe this prom besides illustrating what it wasn't. There was no slow dancing to Peter Gabriel, there was a Phish cover band; there was no limo ride, only Damon's mom's Dodge Colt; there was no grand ballroom, there was a barn. There was no dream date. Damon Nazarenko, with whom I shared a job at the local cable access channel, had asked me. Since no one else did, I said yes. Finally, there was no romantic consummation, no hotel room -- only a shared sleeping bag. Prom was a disaster.

The "barn" was an ugly non-functioning shack on the property of a member of the "in crowd" -- if you could call a couple of scraggly girls who followed the Dead outside of class and dealt drugs during school hours the "in crowd." Once inside this barn, the situation got even uglier. The guys were dressed wildly inappropriately -- Damon had an ill-fitting suit, more appropriate for handing out Mormon fliers than corsages. Ethan, the class "eccentric," decided to cut all the labels and tags from his clothing and sew them onto a T-shirt. Another guy wore a blanket as a cape, or toga. I can't say I was the belle of the ball in my Goth baby doll dress -- but the "in" girls were cased in garish husks of sequin -- one gold, one red.

I spent the entire dance wishing I was dead and worrying about the after party, while Ethan did a kind of epileptic seizure-dance to "Burning Down the House."

Much later, in the confines of my shared sleeping bag, stoned out of my mind with Damon's erection getting a little close for comfort, I realized what this was: Something I could be missing for the rest of my life.

Rachel Elder is a freelance writer who sometimes still does the epileptic seizure-dance in her bedroom.

 

Liz Moran

It wasn't Matt's fault that he aggravated the shit out of me. When he asked me to the prom in January, we were still good friends. We talked on the phone a lot, we drove around, we went to parties. We did not hook up.

We were just friends. It was beautiful.

It's a classic theme, though -- men and women, especially sixteen year olds, are incapable of being friends, and one Friday night in early May, inspired by the onset of spring and a crapload of Natty Light, Matt and I made out. I could have dealt with that, but no, we kept going until we were totally dry humping. I was kind of weirded out, but doing fine until he whispered, "This is what I've always wanted." I freaked, slid out from under him, put my pants back on and ran out.

On Monday morning he had put a note in my locker to tell me that he had a great time on Friday. He signed it, "Love, Matt." Ugh. A line had been crossed, and I felt entirely justified turning nasty.

Prom night arrived a week and a day after the dry hump. Matt told me how beautiful I looked and I rolled my eyes. He tenderly slipped a corsage onto my wrist, and I made my mother pin his boutonnière. He offered me his arm so that we could make our grand entrance together and I rushed in ahead of him to see if anyone was wearing my dress. I was horrible. I wouldn't dance with him, and I made him leave the prom early to take me to Dunkin' Donuts. We sat silently in the parking lot until other friends came to pick me up. I left my shoes in his car.

When I came home on Sunday afternoon, I found my shoes crumpled and shoved in the screen door. It seemed that Matt had mastered passive aggressive, non-verbal communication as well! He certainly didn't like me anymore, and we never really spoke again.

Liz Moran is a freelance writer who apparently has an aversion to dry humping. Poor gal.

 

Lynn Harris

Bet you've never heard this one before: My senior prom was fun -- and that night, I was almost cool.

Naturally, things hadn't seemed so promising at first. I'd been seeing a blond Russian guy in the fall, but that had fallen apart when -- oh, who the hell remembers. I knew tons of guys from my girls' school's brother school, Bonehead Academy, but the cool ones (two) said no when I asked. One had some boarding school girlfriend with a last name for a first name; the other -- oh, who the hell remembers.

I was only mildly concerned. Sure, I needed a date. But love, I had. All my hormones were busy with Patrick, the transatlantic love I'd met on a chorus trip to Cardiff. Boys would come go, but I was getting lovelorn calls from a man with an accent. Yankee boneheads, sod off!

But who else to ask? Suddenly it came to me, with all the force of an idea that may in fact have been my mother's: Ask Jamie. Jamie-I'd-known-forever from Hebrew School. He was handsome and hilarious. And he said yes.

I wore a simple pale pink number that has, I must say, withstood the test of taste. We shared the limo with my friend Kathy and her date, Vinnie Vinzetti. Here's the thing about Vinnie Vinzetti. His dad, Vinnie, just "got" us the limo. Made a call, or something. We didn't pay a cent or dare open the trunk.

Prom took place in the center rotunda at Boston's Fanueil Hall marketplace. We actually got to promenade -- PROMenade! -- through the market, in all our finery. We felt like royalty, the kind of royalty that also hangs out with the people.

The rest of prom itself, who the hell remembers? The after-party … not so much either. I dimly remember dozing off with Jamie in a chaise on someone's patio -- nothing untoward! -- and coming home (how did we get home?!) to orange juice and Danish served by my beaming mom. Hey, kids: Stay in Hebrew school!

Lynn Harris is author of the comic novel Miss Media. "Vinnie Vinzetti" is a pseudonym.

 

Erin Schulte

I don't really understand East Coast proms. I read this article about Bay Ridge teens shelling out $2,400 for a Hummer limo. The spoiled brats from Westchester have their prom at the Plaza Hotel in Manhattan. A Long Island friend told me he celebrated his prom by scoring coke from his date's brother. Coming from a humble hamlet, where the defining feature of the "skyline" is the grain elevator -- it's all very 'Jack and Diane' -- I fail to understand this extravagance and debauchery. Prom is supposed to be sweet.

In Canton, South Dakota, we had our prom in the gym. If everyone had their prom in a gym, the world would be happier. Parents wouldn't have to work so hard to fund purchases of Vera Wang dresses and Hummers. Families might have more time together, and maybe your date, fortified with parental oversight and attention, wouldn't want to get coked up before the first dance.

To dude up the gym, we bought a bunch of black plastic sheeting and gossamer and assorted decorating crap from Stumps. We hung up the black plastic in a square, enclosing the middle of the gym so you couldn't see the bleachers. With all the streamers, balloons, archways and candles, once the lights were off you could, though the haze of teenage hormones, suspend the reality that you were dancing on the spot where you recently left a puddle of sweat from running ladders.

I'm proof that prom is no less dreamy for being held in an armory. I was so in puppy lust with my junior prom date that my pantyhose felt full of pop rocks. For my senior prom, I spent a whopping 200 bucks on an all-sequin number. My date was a strapping blonde who was as sweet as a cupcake, adored me and wore a purple cummerbund.

The parent-sponsored after-prom parties were held in the cafeteria and the band room. Then, all the kids went to eat pancakes at the Fryin' Pan, where the waitresses wear brown polyester uniforms. Cla-SSY! We had decaf, not Cristal.

I didn't have the Plaza Hotel, and I didn't lose my virginity or even get drunk, and still I remember my proms fondly. If only kids were still allowed to just be kids.

Erin Schulte is a writer in New York. She's still a sucker for a man in a purple cummerbund.

 

Jennifer Philion

Through most of high school, I was involved in an ongoing series of top-secret makeout sessions with one of my best friends, who was usually dating other girls. I was madly in love with him.

The day after our junior prom, Mike suggested we go to the senior ball together. Talk about perfect: years of being the girl behind the scenes, finally vindicated with the most public of appearances as a couple. Our friends all knew we were going together. While everyone else was stressing over finding a date, I was calm. Until the day Mike asked what I'd say if a particular junior asked me to the ball. "I'd say no, because I have a date," I replied. Well … (and you could see it coming a mile away, right?) his current girlfriend didn't like the idea, and instead of being happy with taking him to her junior prom, she wanted to go to the ball, too.

So there I was, scrambling for a date long after everyone I knew had found theirs. I asked someone from work who, by ball time, was dating a girl who hated me from junior high. In the sandwich shop where she worked, she threatened to kill me if I laid a finger on him. "I see," I said, glad I had watched someone else make my cheeseburger pocket.

Night of the prom, he picked me up and drove over to his friend's apartment, where I waited in the car as he got high. On the dance floor, he almost punched one of my friends who accidentally bumped him. Oh, and did I mention he was on probation for a trespassing charge? So he had to be home by midnight, and my parents wouldn't let me go to the after-party alone. He dropped me off at 11:45. What an absolutely shit night.

And now, 15 years later, I still resent that Mike fucked up my senior ball so badly -- although it didn't stop me from making out with him again.

Jen Philion is a freelance writer who, when not writing, is presumably making out with this dude Mike.

 

Erin Quinlan

By the time my senior prom rolled around in 1997 I had dropped out of high school and began spending all those temperate May mornings stooped in my bedroom, pasty and pajama-clad, addressing stacks of hate mail to the guidance counselor.

Like a mad tugboat, my friend Michael nonetheless seemed eager to drag me to the event. Since I had been so careful to avoid the other teen rites of passage -- guzzling prescription cough syrup and twirling topless in a cornfield, to name one -- I squeamishly agreed to accompany him, as I might agree to a nice seat at a basement cockfight.

During the week leading up to the prom, the seniors kindled all the old traditions, according to my sources. Girls cut calculus to get their eyelashes done, and boys distributed roofies during softball practice. Finally, Prom was upon us! That bittersweet stepping stone to Princeton, to Cooper Union, to Sarah Lawrence and Smith! That musky pileup of alabaster limousines and poorly cut tuxedos and spangled evening bags fat with Ecstasy, all of it the blazing hot sunset of a long, hard childhood! Farewell, old friends! Meet me on the dean's list! Clearly, the herpes and postgraduate jobs at Blockbuster were never part of the plan.

I remember little about my own preparations for the prom, so perhaps they're better measured in negative space: I did not submit my busted cuticles to a manicure. I did not consult a hairstylist. I did not chalk my license for a frisky all-nighter on the Lower East Side, partly because I didn't have a license to chalk, but mostly because I couldn't be bothered. Until I got the prints back from the photographer, I did not realize everyone could see the deep-purple underwear through my dress, but I didn't care.

For me, the prom was less a finale than a seizure, one that delivered the deadening dazzle of a big Broadway number, a dish of dust-flavored Pop Rocks, a brute blow to the noggin with a sock full of nickels. I bit my tongue once during the main course, and I'm confident that was the night's most vitalizing interval.

I can only imagine what graduation was like.

Erin Quinlan still fits into her dress. She publishes the print zine One Fine Mess with her husband, Dan.

 

Deidre Woollard

I loved my prom dress more than Remington Steele and Flashdance sweatshirts. I washed dishes for months to afford its creamy layers of alternating lace and taffeta, accented at the waist by a peach silk rose. I bought satin shoes and wheedled my way into borrowing my mother's pearls. All that remained was for the guy I was seeing to ask me.

Instead, he informed me that he had a long-standing agreement to take a friend to the prom. I immediately broke up with him and embarked on a scramble for Mr. Last Minute Prom Date. And there he was, working at the nearby McDonalds. He and I were in all the same smart-kid classes, he was pimpled and played in the school band. The kind of guy who I'm sure later got himself clear skin and a great job and a much finer piece of ass than I turned out to be. But in high school, any girl with discernible breasts wields a power equaled only by the dictators of small Caribbean islands. The rules were simple: he was to show up with a gardenia corsage and wear a black tux with a peach cummerbund. And there would be no touching.

The day before of the prom, the sun shone for the first time in six months. My friends and I skipped afternoon classes and slathered ourselves in baby oil. I got the kind of sunburn that makes everyone want to press your skin to watch white fingerprints recede back into red. In my white dress, I was lobster and lobster bib all rolled into one. Mr. Last Minute seemed embarrassed by my high-voltage pinkness. I spent most of the evening in the bathroom, running cold water over my flaming skin and helping a girl who had sewn her own dress safety-pin the unraveling layers to the back of her underwear.

Writing this made me nostalgic, so I googled Mr. Last Minute. The only trace of him was in a message board for herpes sufferers. Meanwhile, the boy I broke up with is now some sort of super-vegan organic food advocate guy. Nice to know that my stellar man-selecting skills started early.

Deidre Woollard writes the sexual astrology column for DateOutofYourLeague.com. This results in no actual sex for her and therefore is truly for entertainment purposes only.

 

Whitney Pastorek

I didn't go to the fucking prom. Stop fucking bringing it up. I had mono for junior prom (which turned out to be ok because someone spiked the punch and the whole class got in trouble for being drunk and had to be at school at 6 a.m. every day for the rest of the school year to get lectured about the dangers of alcohol abuse, and anyway no one asked me to go so I sat on the couch and watched "The Neverending Story" and drooled into a cup because my throat was too swollen to swallow my saliva and my nose was too stuffed up to breathe), and then after I got pretty much kicked out of my high school and shipped off to art school in North Carolina senior year we had some weird thing that was supposed to vaguely resemble a prom except we all had an 11 p.m. curfew, were not allowed to drive cars off campus, and my best friend Anna flew up from Houston to be my date which was fitting seeing as how every guy in my theater class was gay and the ones that weren't didn't ask me, sense a theme? Yeah. So. There's my prom experience. Boy I can't wait to have a daughter so I can share these glorious memories with her.

I didn't go to the fucking prom, okay?

Whitney Pastorek is continuing to resolve her anger issues at
Whittlz.com.

 

Get more of of our ladies here:

THE WAXING OFF ARCHIVE.

 

Hey Ladies! If you would like to be included on the Waxing Off mailing list for possible inclusion in next month's section, please email managing editor A.J. Daulerio and we'll make some magic.