What does the world cost? Oh well, then we'll just take a small coke.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Kelsey get low, low, low, low, low, low, low, low.

I was well on my way to living an incomplete life.

There's nothing like getting elbow-deep into college and then realizing you never really went to prom. You get a sort of vague uneasy feeling like you forgot something – the kind of feeling you get just before you realize you locked your keys in the car. When I dropped out of college and got a minimum wage shift job, I more or less forgot about that nagging feeling in the back of my head.

Then one day, I overheard a friend of mine in discussion with someone else. We'll call her Kelsey, because that is her name. Kelsey was lamenting the fact that everyone had recruited prom dates months before she even thought about it. “I've asked everyone!” She said. “They're all booked.”

I unleashed my FCN wit to make a stupid smart-alecky joke. “You haven't asked me.”

She whirled to face me. “Are you serious?'

“Hm? What? Me?”

Four weeks later, I found myself rushing home from work to pull on a tux I borrowed from a friend of mine whom we will call John, because that is what everyone else calls him. Then came the florist: “Oh, you're the yellow sunflower boy! Issues. You should seriously have gotten something red or white. Yellow? Come on now. Issues.” Then pictures at Kelsey's house. Kelsey's parents were friendly but vaguely suspicious. I decided to keep my driver's license in my pocket where it belonged. They didn't need to know I was a college dropout bum who writes for FCN.

Then off to someone else's house, where flash bulbs chattered like machine gun fire. You know that last scene in The Rookie where he hits the lights and everyone is taking pictures? Yeah. It felt like that. My eyes were a bit off after the pictures – I remember a 20-passenger white hummer limo (heck yes) professional photos, and a restaurant. I also remember my trophy date, Kelsey, constantly telling me to suck it up and/or deal with it. Whatever that means.

So after about five and a half hours of hanging out, someone finally got the bright idea of actually going to the prom itself. After a short and very exciting breathaliticizer-o-matic test, we got rid of most of the accessories/jackets/etc that we'd carefully donned to go to the prom. This seemed very counterintuitive. Why bother dressing up if it's all going to go in a numbered paper sack anyway?

I learned the reasoning as soon as I hit the dance floor. See, I come from a background of what I call “morphed” dancing. That is, if you trace social dancing back a few hundred years, you find waltz, swing, line – stuff like that. You can put all these different dance styles on a timeline and see how they've morphed from one to the next. But this was not morphed dancing. This was dancing evolved.


The first prom ever was at Cambridge High in 1740. Everyone got all dressed up and got their pictures taken, then went into a big room and talked. It wasn't much of a hit, but the school staff was determined to make prom a success. So the next year, they brought in some violinists who played background music. This enhanced the atmosphere significantly. Prom started spreading to other schools. Everyone liked standing around listening to music.

Proms remained largely unchanged until 1912, when Jojo Spudwink of Miami Unified snuck a bongo drum past security (security wasn't nearly as advanced back then as it is now, in a post-9/11 world). About an hour into the violin music, Jojo whipped out the bongo drum and started pounding. The beat was so overwhelming that the party goers couldn't resist nodding their heads to the rhythm. Jojo became an instant legend. The drums continued to be popular at Miami Unified but didn't really catch until heavier rhythms because popular in music around the sixties.

Not that much has changed since the bongo drum days. The head bobbing had become marginally more complex, and the music has become marginally simpler.


And that's about what we experienced. It doesn't take any skill or practice to Prom dance. You just walk into the crowd with your date and start feeling the beat. Of course, there are a few no-nos. The most popular is freak dancing, (also known as booty dancing – avert your eyes children!).

But perhaps the biggest no-no is not feeling the beat. About two hours into the dance, ignorant of this important convention, I launched myself off into the crowd in agonizing slow motion, gradually turning and stepping in what I wanted to think was graceful elegance. Almost thirty seconds later, a school official tapped me on the shoulder.

“Are you okay?” He asked. Now there are two ways you ask if someone is okay. The first is the way he didn't do it, which is to ask in a concerned way as if to offer help. The second is the way he did do it, which is the way police ask if they can help you when they really want to know if you need to be shot to improve the gene pool. I got back into the crazy bopping and the official backed up, grudgingly satisfied.

Nothing individually was particularly special about prom. It was the whole collected experience – dressing up, photos, limo, good food, a friend winning the title of Prom Queen – that really made it a night to remember. Had I not gone, my life would just not have been complete.

Now all I have to do is check out this whole Disney Land thing everyone's talking about.


big mo said...

huh, so that's what i missed.

eh, it hasn't hurt my life too much so far...

glad you got to fill that spot in your life, dude.

you can call me batman said...

hey, join the club. I've never been to Disney Land either.

ScribblinScribe said...

I attended my first (and only) prom as the photographer's assistant. I made everyone jealous telling them I was paid to go. ;)

Anonymouse said...

the last line does not make any sense (to me)