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MCG, a Chicana feminist, for sure, teaches community college English

Monday, November 26, 2012

Prom Night


Amelie and I went to the senior prom with two band geek fairies: Billy Taylor and Warren Sells. It was something that we dreamed up during marching band practice.
         Billy was a dapper natural blond with a mass of thick wavy hair cut short on the sides and longer on top -- sort of mini 80’s pompadour. He had a smile that we all loved -- the kind you’d draw or wish for -- perfect mouth shape and dimples. Warren was a lanky band geek who liked to wear skinny ties and eyeliner. He had a totally eighties Flock-of-Seagulls-light haircut. He was in marching band, pep band, jazz band, and jazz choir.  Amelie was a big-boned Chicana with extra large breasts that she hid under over-sized punk band t-shirts; her black hair was shaved at the sides and longer on top. I was the petite one with the boyish body, and I wore my hair short and spiky, hard, shiny, and in held in place by pink, Dep hair gel and aqua net.
         “Wouldn’t it be funny if Billy and I took you and Amelie to the prom?” Warren asked one day, while his dad, Mr. Sells, our band teacher was busy between songs.
         We were all holding our instruments: Warren his trombone, Billy and Amelie their saxophones, and me my flute.
         “Billy could take Amelie, and I’ll take you,” he said making us all laugh at the image of the four of us together -- the image that we saw he was concocting in his head. Billy was about three inches shorter than Amelie who was tall and decidedly much more masculine than girls her age. I was barely five feet tall, had darker skin than Amelie, and way darker than Warren’s.
         I knew what he was going for. No one would expect the two of them to take girls to the prom. To take us would really fuck with everyone’s head. Warren did actually show an interest in women, dated them too, but most people just saw what they wanted to see -- a fairy in eyeliner with a trombone. Billy didn’t express an interest in anyone. It was easier that way. We all knew what he was, and though we never asked, everyone close to him knew that he knew too. But people liked Billy anyway. He was always smiling, and he had a disarming smile and kindness that could win over anyone, and that wasn’t an act at all. While there were certain things that Billy knew you didn’t flaunt that you didn’t test, Warren had a different approach: why not put on a show? Why not liven up their rented- Elk’s Lodge, helium balloon, pastel color fun?
         So we went, and I wore a red taffeta, 1950’s, cocktail dress that my my mom happened to have in her closet, and Amelie wore a black taffeta prom style dress with big puffy 80’s sleeves that my mom spent several days making for her from a Simplicity pattern. We knew that all the other girls would be wearing Easter colors: lavender, baby blue, pink, or metallic monstrosities in emerald blue or green.
         Amelie, Billy, Warren, and I had a rather wholesome time for two couples whose goal for the night was to shock all the preppy, popular kids, all the football players, homecoming princesses, cheerleaders, wrestlers, cowboys, and the couple made up of a junior girl and a sophomore boy, her a cheerleader, him a football star, the ones caught in the act of oral copulation in her car in the school parking lot one morning, her head bobbing up and down in his lap. And while there was a lot of talk about renting hotel rooms and partying after the big dance amongst the popular kids, Amelie, Billy, Warren, and I went straight home from the Elk’s Lodge which the prom committee had attempted to decorate in way that made the Elk’s Lodge look less like there were animal heads on the walls and more like prom, using school colored helium balloons, like every committee before them.
         The dance itself wasn’t even that memorable; we danced, fast dances, and slow dances. Amelie danced with Billy her hand resting on his shoulders, and me straining to Warren’s, and we switched partners too, often dancing all together in a clump when they played one of our favorite new wave hits. It was what happened before the dance that I remember most.
         Maybe because it was the first time that Billy took a girl to a dance, I’ll never really know, but his parents, who were not very well off at all, must have spent the whole afternoon cooking a Chinese food dinner that they served to us on a table moved into the living room. And the table had been set with a table cloth, and there were candles, and menus written by hand, and Billy’s younger brother waited on us, refreshing our drink glasses, and bringing each course separately, one dish at a time. We ate by candle light, in awe of how we each looked dressed up, and how good we felt; we didn’t care about dancing, or shocking people, or prom.

3 comments:

  1. Billy was the guy who inspired me to be an exchange student when he came to Mr. Moore's 8th grade English class. And you and "Amelie" were the pair who welcomed me and my raised-by-hippies self to redneck high. I would have been lost without the art fags and band geeks to welcome me into the bleached bang gang and show me so much more than the great white way. xxoo

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