“We’re going to need a shot of the king and queen and maybe a few candid shots on Saturday night for the yearbook,” Mr. Milner said as I emerged from the darkroom smelling of photo chemicals.
“No problem,” I replied. “I’ll just check out a camera and move into my snappy photo persona and you’ll have your shots.”
“Whoa!” he replied, “why don’t you get someone else to do it.”
“What? You don’t trust me?” I asked with feigned offense.
“It’s not that,” he replied, “It’s just that this is your senior year.”
“That would be correct,” I replied with a smile, "and your point is?"
“Don’t you want to go to the prom?” he asked.
“Sure,” I paused as he smiled, “to take some pictures.” The smile left his face as he realized arguing was futile.
It’s not that I wasn’t a good dancer. In fact, I had a patented move called “The Blender” that caused everyone to stop what they were doing and watch spellbound as my legs flew in a variety of directions at speeds that might damage something needful if I were to attempt to do the same today. My arms would fling and arc as my legs quivered and pitched. Oh it was incredible to watch people observe a master of “Blender”. From my perspective it was sort of like watching a deer caught in the headlights. They really didn’t want to look but they just couldn’t help themselves. It's possible some are suffering recurring dreams even now for their lack of will power. I suppose some wondered if I required medical assistance.
This prom would be devoid of all things “Blender”. I never could understand the desire to place yourself in the claws of a suit that grips your body and chokes your throat when you should be having fun. So I arrived fashionably dressed in a red and black plaid flannel shirt overlaying an “Automation will never replace me” t-shirt and blue jeans along with a red and white checkered pair of canvas boat shoes. Everyone hailed me as a conquering hero (perhaps it was because I would not be dancing, but a guy is capable of his own private delusions isn’t he?)
A regional garage band in the mode of the “Wedding Singer” and entourage tuned up and played their music really loud to make up for any presumed gift of singing and the couples twirled and danced in a world of crepe and glitter. Hundreds of dollars worth of dresses and flowers floated across the floor with guys in various states of dancing ineptitude (I could tell because I had "the gift".). I snapped a few photos and the crowd seemed very happy. I talked to the couples and made fine and generous comments on their attire and they complimented me on my own bit of fashion sense. I think some of the guys were struck by a case of envy.
The special moment came and a tiara was placed and a crown was donned as I snapped photos. The crowd either congratulated the couple or lamented their own lack of tacky headgear.
Today I can look at those photos and remember. I remember Mr. Milner and his concern for my future prom memories, the classmate stars of several photos, the newspaper reporter that hadn’t made it in time and had to ask for my permission to use my prom pictures in the local paper. Then there was the fact that this was one of the most memorable nights I would have my senior year. The reason? I had no expectations - I simply arrived and was no more or less than my usual self and could interact with my classmates as I always did. No pretension - no attempts to impress - just my normal goofy self.
If I have one regret it is that I did not take my wife up on her request (previous to marriage) to join her at her senior prom a few years after my own senior prom experience. The same feelings of suffocation from the ‘suits of strangulation’ prevented me from saying yes. She does not have the same happy memories of prom that I do - I feel badly about that but I did make it up to her. I went to another dance with her where I astounded everyone with my patented “Blender”.
I’m not sure why, but everyone seemed stunned when Nancy agreed to marry me.