There is nothing and I mean nothing that can reduce a young man to a quivering pile of nerves faster than preparing to take a girl to the high school prom. Combine the hormonal rage of a seventeen year old male with the intense fear of not living up to peer pressure and you have a series of events, even a lifetime of counseling couldn’t erase from your memories.
During the spring of my junior year, I had developed a crush on one of my classmates. She had gone to the ‘Protestant School’ so we had just met when we sat near each other in Mr. Westby’s Chemistry Class. She was, in my youthful opinion, the best looking girl in Valley High. She was more popular than me, she was smarter than me and of course, she was way out of my league. The only thing I had going for me was she didn’t know that.
She talked about studying Marine Biology; I knew how to change the oil in my ‘55 Chevy. She was a National Merit Finalist; I knew how to change the oil in my ’55 Chevy. She was a straight “A” student and a member of the Honor Society; I knew how to change oil in my ’55 Chevy. It was a complete and utter mismatch, but passion pushed me forward.
I worried about asking her to the prom for over a week, but I finally dialed her number and asked if she would go with me. When she said yes, it was like a weight was lifted and the tension was released. What I didn’t realize was that it would return with a vengeance as the event neared.
During a break in the action of a dodge ball game in Phy-Ed class I was informed by my buddies, it was time to order our tuxedos. I, along with every other junior and senior boy, headed for Straus Clothing in Valley City to be measured. Once the measurements were completed, we were presented with “the book”. I noticed each page of the book was protected by a plastic sleeve; giving each of the pages an air of value. The book held pictures of male models adorned by the most stylish tuxes and each of them was attended to by bevies of young woman. All of the men in the book had shoulders and waists that I now realize only existed in fantasy. The hard reality was our bodies were closer to the people in the “husky” section of the Montgomery Ward catalog.
With years of experience gleaned from fashion trends learned from the pages of Archie Comic books, we chose the tuxes that looked great on the models. Since we did not have responsible adults moderating the decisions for us, our choices of the tuxedo stuck
According to the sales person (who, by the way I later found out, had his wife choose and lay out his personal clothing daily) paisley was very hot! And, of all the paisleys, blue was the hottest. Now I could have gone with the plain black tux, but why not make the night special. It would be a wonderful surprise for my date to learn that I had cleverly matched my tux with her pink floral dress! Once I’d selected the jacket, the rest of the order including pants, ruffled shirt and shoes were added with ease.
The next item on the checklist for the prom was the purchase of flowers for my date. Once again I was presented with a “book” with more plastic covered pages. On those pages was a dizzying array of botanical options. The girls in our class had prepared us with the knowledge of the color of each girl’s dress. Why? We didn’t know, but we had been told to bring the information in to the flower shop with us. Luckily, I had done some research on my own and had learned that the orchid was the best flower of all. So I chose it for the corsage and waited to provide the sales women with the color of my dates dress when asked.
The main preparations for me were now completed; all I had to do was sit back and anticipate the event.