Friday, April 24, 2009

Prom Night

It is Prom Night here in Farmingdale. That may surprise you and have you wondering why it is so early, almost two months before the end of the school year. You will probably be more surprised to learn that the prom is for the junior class. Farmingdale High School seniors don't have a prom; they have a senior breakfast at the end of the year. There is only one prom and the only way a senior attends is as the date of a junior.
In any event, when I took a bicycle ride this afternoon (because winter has gone away again and it's going to be summer tomorrow), I passed a number of houses where the prom attendees were out in all their finery, being photographed by family and friends. I was also passed by a number of cars carrying other similarly coiffed and clothed FHS students, on their way to someone else's house to be admired and photographed.

Way back in 1969 (shortly after dinosaurs ruled the earth), my own high school prom was held at, if I recall correctly, the Lido Beach Club in Long Beach. The musical group that performed, the Brooklyn Bridge, was signed to appear, but it was before they had their big hit, "The Worst That Could Happen." In fact, they tried to cancel on us because they had become so famous in the interim. We did not let them out of the deal, so they did as brief a performance as they could get away with and fled into the night.
I did not attend the prom, by the way. I had asked one person (a girl and a friend, but not a girlfriend) if she would be my date, but she turned me down. Rather than do what one of my close friends did -- date a girl once or twice and then ask her because he absolutely had to have a prom date -- I opted to stay home that night. (My unpublished novel, The Junkyard of Memory, has this as a focal point.) I don't recall what I actually did while my high school pals were enjoying the however-brief performance of Johnny Maestro and company, but I do recall most of them being bleary-eyed the next morning when they came to the school to pick up caps and gowns for graduation.

Coincidentally, my wife Laurie also did not attend her senior prom. I don't recall why, but, since she is a faithful reader of this blog, perhaps she will fill us in with a comment below. Once we were married, we told people neither of us had a prom date because we hadn't met each other till college. We did, in fact, attend a junior prom together -- as chaperones -- when Laurie was teaching at Commack High School South. We even have the prom photo!

Some twenty-nine years after I skipped my prom, our son Chuck skipped his as well. He and a group of his friends instead spent the night in our basement, playing video games and eating junk food. As I recall, the next morning, Laurie made them hundreds of pancakes for breakfast.

Breaking what had become something of a family tradition, however, Sammi did attend her prom in 2002. Like the families that I observed earlier this evening, we took lots of photos, in the house, on the lawn, getting into the limo, etc. After the prom, the limo took Sammi and a group of her friends (and their dates) to a comedy club in New York City. And unless I'm confusing it with another event, we were awakened by her knocking on the door at the crack of dawn the next morning. She had given up on trying to sleep at the post-prom sleepover and opted for her own bed instead.

Laurie commented at dinner that for what it cost -- clothes, hair, limo, etc. -- to go to the prom, you could go on a nice vacation. I replied with the comment one of my classmates used when trying to get me to ask "anybody" to be my date, "You can only go to your prom once." And, regardless of whether you attend or not, that is the truth.


  1. Technically, you can only go to your prom once, but actually, every wedding and bar/bat mitzvah is exactly the same except that there's no significant increase in the number of pregnant girls afterward; yes, according to numerous studies, prom results in many an oops. Prom, like the Bridal Industrial Complex (as Chuck calls it) has been marketed as a necessity, a simple high school dance wildly inflated on steriods.

  2. To clarify a detail or two: We were actually roleplaying all night (a far geekier activity, really), and I did attend my senior banquet--but only because I lost a bet.

    I suspect everyone has an amusing prom story, though my favorite came from one of our college friends, who apparently went after the boy she was interested in with a baseball bat--that had "THE PROM: ASK ME" written on it.

  3. Chuck -- As I recall, we never came down to see what was going on and the only time we saw any of you was during a "food run" or a "bathroom run."
    Also, didn't we leave for CTY a few hours after your senior banquet?

  4. No, no, you're thinking of graduation, because mom had to go down to the school the next day to get my actual diploma.

  5. Great story. Forty years later and Johnny Maestro and The Brooklyn Bridge are still at it--concerts, that is. Maestro just turned 70, and his voice is as strong and vibrant as it was back then.