The senior prom: A night to remember?


AH, the senior prom! I remember some of the details of my prom, but some, I guess, are better forgotten.

There was the $100 dress. (I think it used to be blue, but it's hard to tell after eight years.) Oh, and the $50 portrait package.

I remember Mike picked me up in his 1970-something Chevette. We got chased around the house by Dad with his Polaroid, exchanged some overpriced flowers (which were drooping by the time we arrived), threw some newspapers on the seat to fTC keep the grease off the $100 dress and took off for the big event.

We rode in silence, stiff and uncomfortable in clothes too tight in some places, too loose in others. It's a wonder we didn't pass out. (Hair spray and grease don't mix well.) Mike handed a $10 bill to the parking attendant, got $1 back and helped me and the dress out of the Chevette.

Too young for cocktails, too old for pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey, we had nothing to do at first but walk around, looking at other couples equally uncomfortable. Every now and then, a group of girls and their $100 dresses whizzed off to the bathroom to chatter about dates and share lipstick.

Meanwhile, the boys clustered in the corner, punching each other on the shoulder, thankful for a break from the $100 dresses they kept tripping over.

Then came the 90-minute wait in line for the photographer. Turn your head to the left. Now tilt your chin up. Put your right hand on your left hip. Turn sideways. Wrap your left leg around your neck. Smile. And pay the cashier on your way out.

Next: a $30 dinner I was too nervous to eat. I don't remember what was served, but it was probably a chicken dish with a fancy name, maybe a few string beans on the side. And after dinner, the band started to play.

A middle-aged man with a basketball for a stomach wailed away at a Lionel Ritchie tune, and we danced. Somewhere after Springsteen, the lights came on, and an English teacher in a floral gown announced: "I have just been informed that someone has broken a mirror in the first-floor men's room." She gave us a 10-minute lecture, calling us "young men" and "young ladies" and pleading for the culprit to confess. He never did.

We would never be allowed to return to this establishment, she said, and I imagined myself calling up for reservations:

"Your name, ma'am?"

"Lynn Meinhardt."

"I'm terribly sorry, Ms. Meinhardt. Our computer shows that you are from the Chesapeake High School class of 1985. I'm sure you must remember that little incident on May 17 of that year? You know we are unable to grant you a reservation."

So there it was. We put on our costumes -- and for three or four hours acted out parts in a play called "Here We Come, World!"

At the end of the night we hung the costumes in the back of the closet. We pressed the flowers into memory books that wound up in cardboard boxes in our parents' attics. We tucked the photos into albums.

We were just a bunch of kids not yet ready to become adults. All the $100 dresses, three-hour hair-do's and expensive flowers couldn't change us. Only time could do that.

Lynn Meinhardt writes from Pasadena.

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