I’m in the midst of dealing with this major chasm in my life.
There’s Laurie at 14 and she’s standing on one plateau and like a Chuck Jones Roadrunner and Coyote cartoon, I’m on another plateau. We’re standing face to face…maybe 25 yards apart, but the drop is deep…20, 25–50 miles deep. I’m in the process of learning to fill that abyss with feelings and appropriate reactions to those feelings.
Psycho-babble, I know.
The metaphor of which I speak, is a lot like the photo above, only I don’t actually have an ACME Excocet rocket attached to my body.
You get my drift.
I’m reflecting on things such as this because I have reason to do so. My oldest friend Cheryl (who I’ve known since Kindergarten and as fate would have it, out birthdays are one day apart. We’ll both be 50 this April) sent me some photos of certain events that occured in our youth. Events in which Laurie, The Younger was prominently featured and/or served a pivotal role. Seeing these pics spurred some memories and made me realize how much has changed….and in some ways, how much things haven’t changed a bit.
More on that in another post.
Be forewarned: if the title of this tome didn’t properly indicate, this will, in fact, be a post about my High School prom, so allow me to preface things with the following: I hated High School. I’ve had four horrendous periods in my life…..High school was the fifth one.
Know what I mean?
Back then, I was operating on nothing but glands, teenage angst and misguided youth. It was the mid 70’s and probably one of THEE tackiest times in American history. I can prove that with the photos you are about to see. Most of the ones Cheryl sent were from our Jr/ Sr. prom. It was either late April or early May of 1976. We were Juniors then and feating the graduating Seniors was what every Junior class did at the end of every school year. Banquet first, then prom and the theme of the prom my junior class produced was entitled, “An Evening In Japan.”
“Mothra Cut One”…I really can’t remember, but it was Japanesey.
The difficulty we had in coming together and assemblying all that was necessary to produce a prom worthy of the Senior class ahead of us, was actually trying to come together on this project. You see, our class was never particularly chummy. It was divided into clicks, and while a few new faces might have rotated in and out, the clicks themselves never changed. It was, I’m sure, not unlike other classes in other cities in the year of our Lord, 1976.
There were the Cool People–Dopers or Heads as they were called. Jocks (male and female). Squares and Straights. Cowboys. The shy , modest chicks who loved studying science and chemistry; who bathed everyday and dug art that included folksy, homespun ducks waddling amuk in blue gingham bonnets and then of course, there were Band Nerds.
My Freshman year, I was all of them–save for the ducks and gingham bit. The inertia of my life , coupled with my need to try to be all things to everyone had to have been exhausting. In retrospect, I don’t know how I did it. Then again, I was young , needy and considerably thinner with a metabolism that rivaled any nuclear reactor.
Getting back to the prom now.
It was Saturday. I met with other Juniors at the HS cafeteria early that morning to paint, strip, tape, build, construct, glue, nail, draw and bitch and moan about having to do all of these prommy things.
There we were: kids from a rural netherworld in South Texas; none of us had ever had real Asian food (Chung King doesn’t count), much less ever seen an Asian person.
Oh yeah…Wait!!! There was Mrs. Livingston from ABC’s, “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father”, but she don’t count neither.
That Saturday flew by. We all toiled on the floor of the cafeteria and out on the sidewalk. But as the afternoon waned on, we all knew we had dates to prepare for…Maybelline God Awful Aqua eye shadow to apply, followed by a spritz or two of Estee Lauder Youth Dew, Ambergris or Patchoulli—the fragrance we applied depended on what was in store regarding the evening’s “extra-curricular activities”. Patchcoulli, I remember, was perfect to cover up the smell of a million different teenaged evils.
Most of the kids left by 4pm, insisting they needed to go home and get ready. Guys too…they had cars to wash and endure the chore of trying to make brown shoes and a black tux work.
Fine and dandy, but there was 35-feet of cafeteria wall that was left unadorned. We had run out of decorations–the class didn’t have much money in the first place and someone on their way out the door suggested that we dig around in the bowels of the storeroom and find some English Ivy and Magnolia wall paper that was used year before in the 1975 Jr/Sr. Prom entitled, “A Night In Dixie”.
Like yeah, that would work with a Japanese theme. To that, Cheryl and I cried bullshit.
We had dates, too but we looked at each other and both said, “a half assed Jr/Sr prom won’t happen on our watch!!’ So at 4:45, the cafeteria was empty, except for three very pissed off classmates left holding the decorating bag.
Cheryl, her then boyfriend, Bruce and I found some butcher paper, a few bottles of Tempra paint, brushes and with sheer will, duct tape and very little time, we pieced together some of the tackiest, hastily produced decorations in the history of promdom.
This was one of the walls.
Slapped together Asian banners on which random lettering was was placed. We copied words and letters on the back of some imported packaging for Japanese lanterns. We had no idea what we were drawing. For all we knew, it could’ve said, “Pat Morita Was A Hack”, or “Bombing Pearl Harbor Was Our Imperial Right”.
I don’t remember who drew the dragon (or is that a random tree limb jetting out of nowhere?) but he or she was a far better artist than I.
Want proof of that?
OK, for the first time in 33 years and the first time this century, I will display my first artistic prom offering before God and man… in its full mural glory.
This mural took up the bulk of the 35 feet that needed decorating. I went to the library to look up a photo of Buddha. I took paint brush in hand, and ended up drawing Jay Leno in eye-liner and a black turbin….pleasuring himself with a slammin’ double fister, smack dab in the middle of his Lotus position.
I remember drawing this at at 5:45 pm. Time was running out. I really didn’t care.
Ok, see this? This was the epicenter for our prom.
A little white bridge where happy couples stood to get their prom photo taken. I seem to remember that I drew the bulk of the actual backdrop which was a copied from the artists’ rendering of the actual pond/bridge scene on the floor. See? It’s almost identical. This, like the Buddha above, was drawn free hand. Artistically, I’m clueless. I screwed up on the top branches of that steroided out Bansai tree. Poor thing didn’t know whether it was drawn in front of the rice paper screen or behind it. I had depth perception issues.
Here’s a photo of two of the architects of this non-Occidental rubbish. In the lush hormonal forest that is adolescent growth spurts or the lack thereof, Bruce is the Sequoia; I’m the stump.
Yeah, I’m short.
The bargain basement band that played for our prom had an excrutiantingly limited repertoire; it knew Three Dog’s Night’s, “Joy To The World” relatively well and faked its way through a couple of endless Carpenters’ songs . They played, we gagged, they repeated. It was horribly, horribly sad.
And last but not least….
This pathetic WTF pond still makes me laugh. It greeted couples as they entered the Land of the Rising Sun. As you can plainly see, it was a kiddie pool with a couple of rocks in it and ivy of some sort barely covering the blue plastic. I think I remember, it had goldfish in it too….for a while.
We were ignorant in the ways and means of domestic marine life and put tap water in the pool. We hastily threw the fish in at 6:19 pm; they were, I’m sure, belly-up before the clock struck 6:20.
The prom started at eight.
No one noticed their demise until clean-up the next day.
So, as I rapidly approach 50…that cursed half-century mark…I reflect back in my life and yes, I have a few regrets. This tragic prom is one of them. Over the years, I’ve often wondered why I’ve had very little contact with members of the Senior Class of ’76 and now, I think I understand why.
They’re still pissed.
Then, I look at the photo of that poor excuse for a limpid, Asian pond and I think… Jeez, just how much pot did we smoke back then?