WELL. those sewing scientists. they're all over the place, aren't they? if you haven't had the pleasure, meet vicki from, you guessed it, another sewing scientist. when we picked her up, there was no stopping the AP force field, and she and cindy are now joined at the hip. they're crowding me out of the sunroof! i don't mind, though, because i could not stop laughing when i heard her tale. get in the limo and school us, vicki!
I think I’m the oldie in this limo: I graduated in 1988 from Eastern Shore District High, a rural high school in Nova Scotia. So make some extra room on the bench seat back here, make sure the schedule for the evening is printed in a large font, and let’s stick to a nice Argentinian Malbec for the evening, shall we? I can’t hold litres of beer like I used to be able to, and I’m sure you don’t want to be pulling the limo over too often for pee breaks.
The ‘70s and ‘80s were a nasty time in prom history at my school: pickup trucks full of kids driving drunk down winding, unlit country roads to party all night on the beach. Alcohol poisoning, car crashes, injuries, pregnancies, assaults, death. I can see why the parents, teachers and the students themselves decided to take matters in hand and start hosting Safe Grad parties. We were escorted directly from the dance in yellow school buses to a sports complex in the closest city. We were kept locked up there all night to swim, eat junk food, dance and basically keep out of trouble. For that night at least. I went to the prom with older friends when I was in grade 11, and again when I was graduating from grade 12.
Ladies and Gentlemen, for your viewing pleasure, welcome to the ‘80s:
Our Grad night started in everyone’s respective back yard, getting the requisite Awkward Photo with Date. Here is mine from grade 11:
(All of these friends are now professors or business owners, so I’ve hidden their faces because it’s too much trouble to track them down, explain what the heck Promaballoona is and ask for their permission to use their images. And yeah, I know that hairdo makes me look like my forehead exploded, but hey! It was 1987. What can I say.)
All through grade 11 (and much of grade 10 actually), I was dating this boy next to me who I’ll call Lesson #1. What’s Lesson #1 from 25 years in the future? Just because a boy is cute and popular, and lavishes attention on you part of the time, it doesn’t mean he’s worth all your time. If he’s not crazy for you 24/7, he’s not worth your precious teen years, because let’s face it: you’ll never be as slim and fit, as full of energy and as randy as you were as a teenager. Why waste that on part-time fun??
(17-year-old me. OMG, to have that body again….)
The standard Prom costume at my school was girl in poofy, shiny, white or pastel dress and boy with matching cummerbund. I was just sooooo much cooler than everyone else, and I had to stand out in some way, so I got my mother to make me that black prom dress. Matte black. It had boning and was fully lined with black cotton for comfort. I loved it. Lesson #1 bought me that yellow rose wrist corsage, which should have been the final hint that he didn’t know me at all.
Lesson #1 and I were about to break up, and the other couple in the photo weren’t a couple at all, but two people from our group of friends that needed dates. Heaven help you if you didn’t go with a date. For some reason, it was an unspoken rule that you couldn’t go alone. Ah, teenage conservatism. We thought we were so cool but we were actually following an incredibly tight-assed set of adolescent rules. Anyway, there was no hanky-panky going on between any of us that night, but we did get a few good eyefuls of other couples who were taking advantage of the darkened gymnasium. I remember at one point dancing with Lesson #1 and him whispering an incredulous, “Are they doing it??!??”
Here I am just before my grade 12 prom, with the boy I’ll call Lesson #2:
Lesson #2 was actually sick with the flu that night, and still managed to come along, which in retrospect, was probably the only selfless thing he ever did for me. Scratch that: he probably did it because he thought I’d put out. Yeah, good luck with that in a locked gym full of 200 kids and teachers. Lesson #2 is that charm is false and as you get older, you learn to pop that balloon full of hot air the instant it swaggers in front of you.
This dress was made for me over a weekend with my aunt P, a full time teacher and a part time sewist. I flew up to stay with her, and she draped and sewed the dress while telling me precautionary tales of university culture, looking at historical patterns together, drinking beer and smoking hash with her friends. Yeah, she was my cool aunt. I told her I wanted something Art Nouveau or Deco, and we decided on a ‘20s style dress based on a design by Erté. I can’t find an image of the dress we used, but here’s a taste of Erté’s style:
She draped this purple satin dress with a handkerchief hem and a black net overlay. It had black sequin straps and hung loosely in a modified ‘20s style. It was beautiful. And then in a typical teenage way, on the night of the prom, I put on the dress and thought it was all wrong. (Remember, the ‘80s were all about strapless dresses with tight corset waists and poofy skirts) I stupidly cut off the straps and cut a length of netting to act as a belt. Ugh. Why hadn’t I had the confidence to dress how I really wanted to? At least I kept the ‘20s jet necklace and earrings and didn’t substitute them with plastic ‘80s gaudiness.
I don’t really remember much of that night because I think I fell asleep. Lesson #2 probably crawled away to sleep off the flu on some bleachers, and I remember me and another girl pulling some gym mats into a corner and lying down, so I must have missed much of that G rated evening. Every summer I worked full time at a canoe/kayak club to save $$ for university, so I think I had already put in a full day’s heavy lifting outside in the sun, and was probably exhausted. No worries though; I don’t think I missed anything scandalous worth writing about here.
The reality was that the real grad parties happened before or after, and so were spread out over several weeks, diluting the damage potential. I went to a lot of drunken parties, but for most of them I was the designated driver and stuck to the ginger ale. I hooked up with a couple of guys that I knew I probably wouldn’t see again, and had great fun. I didn’t take that chance with a couple of guys who would have been great catches, but like Tanit-Isis said in her post, you always let the “good ones” get away because they aren’t as confident or persuasive as the bad ones. I actually spent my last week before university with a gang of nerd-boys who were taking their Life Saving Bronze Medallion course at the canoe/kayak club where I worked. Ah, the fun I could have had on that last week with that gang of virgins….;)
Now that I’m a responsible parent (ahem), I’m wondering how I can in all good conscience talk to my kids about being responsible when fooling around in high school is honestly just so goddamn fun. When can you get away with that kind of stuff again?
Oh yeah. University.
please note that vicki appears to be double fisting it here. yes, that could be someone else's glass of chardonnay, but i like my version better. i have evidence of her drinking skillz.
my favorite lesson: Why Waste Time On Part Time Fun. having that engraved, stat. what about you?