Today I learned the average American family expects to spend $1139 on prom this year, and that figure inches ever higher. Interestingly, families with a gross income under $50K a year spend more on high school proms than more affluent families.
I haven't mentioned my high school prom once in this Breadbin's history, because the memory of it still stings over two decades after the fact. In a precursor to my university years then on the horizon, I made a series of poor choices which seemed reasonable at the time, but which led to my "big night' being all but ruined--and I won't whine about that, because I actively and totally ruined the night of the girl who was supposed to be my date. I haven't seen or heard from her in the interim. I doubt she's forgiven me. I wouldn't have forgiven me.
Casting back through the mists of time--
1990, OAC year (what used to be called 'grade 13' in Ontario)
Ingersoll District C.I.
Well, this is interesting. I'm kissing a girl. For the first time since third grade. And with considerably more passion than I knew existed in third grade. In fact, any more passion seems likely to produce an embarrassing stain.
I've managed to get most of the way through high school without anything like this happening. Not for lack of dreaming, mind you.. But the problem with fantasies, at least in my experience, is that they stand zero chance of becoming realities, which makes it hard to explain this girl I'm welded at the lips to. And it's even harder to explain how these kissing and make-out sessions keep happening--the music room (naturally), a park, a cemetery (hey, it's peaceful and private), and once, just once, her living room on a shared spare period. That occasion was progressing into something a little more serious than kissing when her dad unexpectedly came home to spoil the party.)
Yes, hard to explain. Very, very hard.
"You make me feel safe", she tells me, and doesn't that make my heart go pitter-pat? Other guys had taken advantage of her before me, and as very. very hard as it was, I wouldn't yield to that temptation. I'm going through a Christian phase and even without the goody-two-shoes facade I wear like a hair shirt, I understand instinctively that any relationship I seek with this woman (and I seek, how I seek) would be much better if I could show some restraint. So I do. Repeatedly.
I ask her to prom with all the jittery stuttery circumlocutions you might expect from a guy who's terrified he might wake up at any moment, and she says "I thought you'd never ask" and the dream continues. Nice dream.
It's coming up on prom night, the tickets have been procured, and the high school grapevine has informed me that Sandy and I have plans. A red flag is raised in my mind because it's not Sandy informing me of these plans, and the flag is joined by a host of alarm bells when I find out what those plans are. After pfom, we're to join another couple (the girl half of which I'll be engaged to in two years, but I couldn't possibly guess that now) for a drive down to Port Dover's beach. And what happens on Port Dover's beach? The grapevine has a number of suggestions. Perhaps in nine months there will be a new "son of a beach" in the world, eh, Ken?
Well, crap on that.
Do I approach Sandy, seeking clarification of these plans made without my knowledge or consent? I do not. Do I approach the other couple? I do not. What I do is withhold Sandy's ticket out a week before the event and then explain to her why I'm doing it.
Which is damned odd because it's 2013 now and I can't explain why I did it.
My parents were quite leery of me going to Port Dover, but they didn't forbid me outright. I did that. I forbade myself. Because I wasn't sure I'd be able to exercise that famed Ken-restraint on a beach in Port Dover, and putting me in this position was clearly Sandy's fault, and damn her to hell or at least to a lonely prom night because I'm at war with myself.
Total dick move, there.
Needless to say, the break-up was swift and spectacular. I'm not sure what Sandy did for her prom night--my self-righteousness extended so far as to not give a fart in a glove. I tried to find myself a date, on insanely short notice, to no avail, and so I went alone, after having dinner with my parents (how romantic is that?)
I managed a couple of dances that night, including one with the girl we were supposed to be double-dating with, the one I'd be engaged to briefly in two years. Still couldn't guess that: give me a month. I hung out with my best friend at the time and his girlfriend, whose name was also Sandy. And after prom I went home, which was undoubtedly where an immature jerk like me belonged.
Sandy, it's not like you'll ever see this, but I'm sorry. What I did has bothered me quite a bit since I grew up enough to realize how much it should. It doesn't make up for destroying your prom, I know. I hope you've overcome the loss of that rite of passage and that it's nothing more than a sad footnote in your past about the jerk who screwed you because he was afraid he might screw you.