During our last weekly staff meeting, the head of promotions revealed that the station was bringing back a successful and popular event from last year, “The Second-Chance Prom,” which was to be hosted by the new morning show. My fellow employees perked up and became positively giddy over the announcement, while I shared a nervous look with my co-host.
I’m all about station events, especially any that are invite-only, involve dressing up in vintage formal wear, and encourage the consumption of large quantities of alcohol, but the word prom makes my neglected inner child cringe. While most people probably look back on their prom with warm fuzziness, I just remember feeling awkward, exposed, and totally out of place.
As some of you may recall (and those of you who don’t probably won’t be to shocked to find out), I didn’t exactly run with the in crowd in high school. I shunned all sports, napped in class, and snuck cigarettes at the foot of the pavement stairwell by the gym locker rooms. But on the bright side of my teenage angst, I was a cartoonist and editorial writer for the school paper, president of the Art Club, and generally liked by my fellow students for my entertaining quirkiness.
I always considered myself a novelty amongst my peers, so I was pretty surprised when one of the more overachieving, preppy students in my class asked me to the prom. Though the rebellious part of myself wanted to go, “The prom? No way, man! I ain’t no conformist!” then knock over a couple of desks in disgust and spray-paint an anarchy symbol on the homeroom wall, the part of me that always desperately wanted to fit in with the pretty people overrode my negative thoughts and leaped at the chance to experience an American teen tradition. After all, it was my senior year, and besides the upcoming graduation, I hadn’t participated in anything school-related. If my time in high school was supposed to be regarded as the best years of my life, then I needed some sort of evidence. A goofy photo of my balding date and me, standing by a hideous floral arrangement in front of a lame backdrop, would probably do the trick.
Let’s just say I should’ve stayed home, ordered a pizza, and rented Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II instead. I spent the evening utterly uncomfortable around my date’s friends (mainly because I wasn’t in Key Club nor did I have any interest in going to UNC-Chapel Hill), I kept constantly excusing myself to the bathroom to make sure one of the girls wasn’t making a cameo appearance out of the top of my low-cut, fake-silk dress, and I caused my date to cry toward the end of the evening after bringing up his ex-girlfriend — apparently he wasn’t over her.
The saving grace to the upcoming event is that it’s called the Second-Chance Prom. Maybe I have not-so-positive memories of the original, but here’s my chance to live those desired high school moments 10 years later. This time I’ll be one of the popular kids. This time I’ll be able to afford a decent prom dress. This time I might get felt up in the back of the limo as long as I don’t make my date cry. Which I can’t promise won’t happen.