Price Breaks and Heartaches
a journal of retail and failed romance
I No Longer Fear Hell for I Have Been To the Senior Prom
(When we last left this almost true story I and my last minute date to the Senior Prom had just sat down to our Prom Dinner...)
They were all there: The Giggling Thug, The Future Gas Station Attendant, The Muttonhead and The Frat Boy Trainee. Their dates all had strapless gowns and huge hair, but hey it was the 80's.
I remember I mumbled "Hello." Then and my date and I took our places at the table.
"Do we know you?" The Muttonhead asked.
"Uh sure. We're in gym class together."
The Muttonhead shook his head "No I don't remember you."
"Come on! You brutalize me up every Tuesday. Are you saying those beatings mean nothing to you?"
Apparently they could only recognize me when I was cowering in fear or curled up into the fetal position.
"Hey I know you!" The Frat Boy In Training said with a snap of his fingers, "You're that gay-looking kid!"
Everyone laughed at that, except me of course. I was too busy considering the irony of the guy holding the all-time school record for pantsing nerds questioning my sexuality.
The Future Gas Station Attendant asked "Aren't you that kid that got booed off the stage during the talent show?"
"Actually I was dragged from the stage," I replied, "and aren't you the lead singer in the rock band that forgot the words to 'Stairway To Heaven' during the same show?"
“Yeah well, it’s a hard song.”
Well I may as well get this whole talent show thing out of the way right now. Every year the high school had a talent show and even though I loathed many of my fellow students I volunteered place my dignity on the line so I could entertain them. Why would I do such a thing? Well, Lilly was in the talent show too.
Of course by then she and I hadn’t been going out for almost a year but I still wanted to be close to her so I just kind of made excuses to be where she was. Please remember they didn’t really consider it stalking back then, just being persistent. The talent show had a little bit of everything in it; rock music, dancing, singing, a few magic tricks, there was even an unscheduled fire drill. I did some of my stand up routine and the less said about it the better; I’d rather remember the near fistfight my brother and I got into during my great grandmother’s funeral than I would about those seven minutes of comedy Hell.
What of Lilly? She did a song an 80’s classic and from that night on the song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’. In my mind Lilly and that song are forever intertwined and whenever I hear it, be it the original version or one of the many cover tunes that seem to have popped up recently, I remember. In the memory I am standing off to one side of the stage watching her perform and wishing that she was singing that song for me and me alone.
Sorry, that was the wrong flashback wasn’t it? Let’s get back to the prom shall we?
Two-thirds of the way through our undercooked meal the band started to play. I don’t remember the name of the bad but I will always remember their talent to find the single sliver of soul nesting in the heart of the most banal of 80's pop tunes and kill it dead.
Couples slowly began to filter out onto the dance floor. First there was Joanna and her simp of a boyfriend-my eyes started rolling involuntarily at the very sight of her. Adrian and his date started grooving to an uneven version of 'Sunglasses At Night'. I didn't recognize Adrian’s date and would later find out that he had met her through an escort service. I hope she had a good time that night because the check Adrian paid her with bounced when she tried to cash it. There was no sign of Velma or Kevin K. Hanson anywhere.
And there was Lilly dancing with her date Orville.
Orville, what can I say about him? Well, we worked together at the local supermarket and everyone that knew him thought he was great- except for me of course. That's about it really. Oh yes and he had this disturbing habit of grabbing my ass whenever he caught me alone at work. Talk about mixed signals.
And with Lilly on this night of nights, Lilly the girl I had spent the last four years mentally undressing and then mentally redressing in the outfits Romana had worn during Doctor Who's 17th season.
Oh the agonies of being a geek in puberty.
I took Agnes by the hand and led her to the dance floor; her fingers were still greasy with burnt poultry. The band had brought things down tempo a bit with a strange warbling reinterpretation of Berlin's 'Take My Breath Away'. We had a nice slow dance, but I started to notice that my date's attention was elsewhere. She was checking out The Giggling Thug while I was dancing with her! I tried to be rational about it. After all hadn't I just been mooning over someone else? Besides, maybe she was just taken with the way he had worn work boots with his tux.
Kevin K. Hanson showed up again. His sister had been worried about where he’d been. I would later find out that he had excused himself to go to the restroom and gotten lost coming back. He spent almost a half an hour in a nearby room at an AMWAY seminar before he realized he'd made a mistake. Joanna insisted I dance with her at least once, so I did-but I was annoyed the entire time. Corey was still searching for his date, but sadly Velma had vanished. Corey was murderously angry, which was kind of ironic because after she had been missing a week the police would be asking him if he'd murdered her.
Don't worry about Corey though, further investigation would reveal she had hooked up with one of the AMWAY distributors and run off.
Somewhere between 'Danger Zone' and 'Hip To Be Square' I excused myself to use the bathroom. On the way back I noticed that Adrian had found a way into the kitchens of the Marriott and had stuffed three bottles of expensive Champagne into his tux. He asked me if I wanted to help him with his little scheme but I decided against it. The last dance of the night was fast approaching, where they would play the Prom's theme for a last romantic slow dance.
I got there just in time but Agnes wasn't waiting for me at our table. She was already out on the dance floor.
With the Giggling Thug...