Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Prom (A to Z Blogging Challenge, Day 16)

I was rifling through topics for this post and decided to write about being open to possibility before I remembered I already did that. Then my brain said Write about attending prom, which I immediately vetoed out of embarrassment and shame. However, I’ve been out of high school for 25 years and if I don’t talk about this shit, it’s going to plague me forever. If I share my completely-not-tragic-please-don’t-be-let-down-by-how-stupid-this-really-is story, maybe I can move on. At least an inch or two forward so I don’t make a horrible face when someone mentions floofy dresses and big '80s hair. 

How I feel about prom... and high school in general
The big, scary, mortifying “secret” is that I went to prom alone twice. I know. Eye. Roll. Actually, I went stag with a female friend my junior year, so it probably looked like I had a date. Especially since my friend was brave enough to be out as bi (and woo BUDDY that didn’t go over well). Our classmates might have been reacting to her personality in general or it might have been homophobia. Whatever the case, I had a female companion and... well, let's just say I look oddly serene in the pictures my folks took before we left.

To catch new readers up really quickly, I didn't realize that I was gay until after I got out of high school. Looking back -- GIRL. HAHAHAHAHA. So many crushes and fluttery feelings and clue phones ringing all over the place. At the time, though, I was consumed with my other differences -- being mixed, being fat, and being a work study kid among classmates from wealthy families. That was enough to distract me for four years.

Senior year rolled around and I elected to go to prom again. I'm not really sure why. I was determined to go with a date and asked six guys – SIX – to prom. Got turned down by every single one. Most of them already had dates (or said they did). I let that embarrass me horribly for a long, long time. It's down to "occasional cringe" territory now, but more than two decades after graduation, it's time for that memory to vamoose entirely. Yes, I showed up at prom alone, sporting an out-of-control hairstyle born of a hot iron and Indiana humidity, and wearing some puffy white nightmare of a dress. That was it. I don't remember the rest of the night, other than standing in line for dinner and watching the boy I was crushing on arrive with his date. That insignificant mess was taking up space in my brain all these years. To explain sum up, I had probably seen too many John Hughes' movies about outcasts connecting with the people of their dreams, which made it easy to hang too much hope on the chance that someone would ask me to dance or bring me a cup of punch during the night. 

It would be great if I could get back all the years I spent making myself feel bad for one, silly night, but I don't even think a fairy godmother could've saved that evening. I still would've felt like an unfixable other. I still would've left high school behind like so much refuse. I still would've come out of the closet. I hereby free my brain from obsessing about that one time I was overheated, kind of sad, and a lot embarrassed. Now I can ease that night towards my subconscious, knowing it will eventually drift away, weightless as so much white tulle.

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