I’ve attended over a dozen high school proms. My parents didn’t care what time I got home, if my gown showed too much cleavage, or if I had a few drinks there. That’s because I was a senior citizen at all of them. I didn’t go to my own high school’s prom back in the late 1960s. I was painfully shy and seldom dated.
So when the administrator of the high school where I worked for over 20 years asked for volunteers to chaperone its prom, I relished the opportunity to experience it. Here was my chance, albeit very late, to stroll a ballroom in a sparkly gown like Ginger Rogers or Grace Kelly, to mingle with teens, only with gray hair and wrinkles instead of brightly dyed fluorescent hair and acne. When my student aide assured me, “Everybody ‘gets lucky’ prom night, Mrs. T,” I laughed and shouted, “Count me in! My husband will be happy to know that.”
At the chaperones’ planning meeting, the principal first asked for volunteers to frisk the incoming male students at the venue’s entrance. I’d barely begun to raise my hand in jest when the principal (who was familiar with my sense of humor) said, “Not you, Denise.” Instead, my first assignment was to stand at the entry and check the young ladies’ purses for contraband, which I was to confiscate. Their fancy sequinned purses were barely large enough to hold a tube of lipstick and a few tissues. Never-the-less, I took my duties seriously.
What I discovered at those proms was that something about dressing up for this memory-making experience had the students on their best and most mature behavior. Even young people who spent more time in the principal’s office and in after-school detention became, for this one night of magic, gentlemen and ladies. Not that the events were without teenaged angst and drama.
At one prom, a young man whose girlfriend attended the prom with another young man, stood against the outside of the venue’s floor-to-ceiling windows, which offered a stunning view of the city’s nighttime skyline, banging on the window and calling out his girlfriend’s name just like actor Dustin Hoffman in the final scene of the 1967 movie, “The Graduate.”
At another prom, about a dozen elegantly dressed students were on their way to the upper floor where the prom was to be held when their elevator stalled between floors. Not only did they miss at least an hour of their prom as the adults tried to locate the venue’s maintenance man, but one of the young ladies was extremely claustrophobic and having a meltdown.
I once was assigned to stand on a balcony and oversee the youthful dancers, looking for inappropriate behavior. When I was in high school, my parents were shocked and horrified at Elvis Presley’s hip gyrations. They’d have had a stroke if they had seen what I saw on that dance floor. I had to search out the principal for clarification as to what was considered inapproproate behavior in the current era. It seemed that in the current times I’d be deemed prudish.
At another prom, I was assigned to stand at the exit door like a sentry at the entry to the Gold Depository at Fort Knox. My mission, should I decide to accept it (shades of Mission Impossible), was to prevent students from slipping outside for a smoke, a drink, or to continue what they’d started on the dance floor. It made for a long, boring evening for me as a chaperone.
In spite of the occassional drama, I enjoyed every one of those proms. The best part was when I got home in the wee hours of the morning. I slapped my sleeping husband’s blanket-covered rump and shouted, “Wake up, fella! Everybody gets lucky prom night!”
6 thoughts on “Shall We Dance?”
Hi. Have you retired from prom duties, or will you attend again?
Since I retired from the school two years ago, I’ve also retired from prom chaperone duty. It was fun while it lasted. Part of what made it fun was that I knew the students at the prom. Now that I don’t know the juniors and seniors, I don’t think I’d enjoy it as much.
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I laughed out loud ready the entire blog.
Your lucky husband, you little prom scamp! 😉 After one of my proms, (ours were chaperoned all night affairs–we got home around 8:00a.m.), I had to pry open a patio window and climb in wearing my gown because my mom was out of town and my dad had left for an early golf date–forgetting I had no key!
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Do you remember some of the themes?
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Sorry, not a single one.