Monday, May 23, 2011

No, I Did NOT Buy My Prom Dress at Victoria's Secret

Some of the stuff I'm writing now may lack coherence. I'm sleep deprived, and while I'm accustomed to writing in a semi-stuporous (NOT stupid, you semi-literate cousins who wouldn't know the difference) sleep-deprived state, I do sometimes have to go back later and edit parts that sound a bit silly in the light of day. I may not be available to edit tomorrow, so what is written tonight may stand for forty-eight hours or so before I have the opportunity to come back and make sense of that which is hard to follow. By the way, last night's posts, while they may have been hard to follow, were not without substance and did actually have at their core an essence, which was that in addition to all the other nonsense related to last year's prom, my family, which had been Catholic for generations, was excommunicated from the Holy Roman Catholic Church over fallout from the prom. We eventually found our way back into a state of grace through the back door, but it was just one more example of just how disastrous last year's prom was for me and how, if I really believed in such shit, I'd pay my own money to have myself hypnotized in order to have the entire cataclysm permanently removed from my consciousness.

Alas, I'm too much of a skeptic to believe that hypnosis could really accomplish such a thing, although I did see the "Dr. Chase" character on "House" hypnotize one of the other characters -- I think it was "House" himself -- and if Jesse Spencer, the actor who plays Dr. Chase, were to perform the hypnotism on me, it might possibly succeed. There's something about the presence of a drop-dead-gorgeous Aussie that makes a thing seem within the realm of possibility that otherwise would not even be conceivable. If I'm ever life-threateningly ill in the next eighteen months or so and the "Make a Wish" Foundation shows up at my hospital bedside wanting to know what they could possibly do to brighten my otherwise bleak and unfortunately short-term existence, tell them for me if I'm not able that my wish will be for Jesse Spencer, AKA Dr. Chase, to hypnotize me in order to erase that first prom catastrophe from my consciousness forever, however abbreviated forever might be for me under such circumstances.

Anyway, I must return to the topic of the Utah prom I attended. I cannot know for certain that the prom I attended was typical even for Utah County, much less for the state as a whole --- I'd have to assume those proms in the Colorado City/Hilldale region, if they even happen, take on a slightly different form -- but those who were there at the prom with me assured me that what I was seeing and experiencing was fairly traditional for the region. Some of the very wealthiest sections of the Salt Lake City and surrounding suburban area may find a way to make a few upgrades, but, by and large, the prom I attended was much like any other in the more civilized portions of Utah. (Saying "the more civilized portions of Utah" is akin to saying "one of the more intelligent profoundly retarded individuals" or "one of the clearer areas in a hoarder's home," but I assume the point has been made.)

When I arrived at the prom with my date, Jared, some sort of controversy surrounded our entrance. We weren't exactly blocked from entering the main portion of the gym, but neither were we ushered in. I pretended not to hear, as did Jared, various snippets of hushed conversation between what appeared to be a couple of administrators or counselors, a teacher, and a woman who carried herself with the authority of a PTA President.

"She doesn't LOOK old enough to be even in middle school."
"She's Dr. [Jared's father's] son's date; I can't imagine Dr. [Jared's father] allowing his son to bring a sixth grader grader to the prom." "But just LOOK at her." "The dress . . ." "We didn't specify that straps were mandatory." "With our weather, we didn't think we had to." "She does have a matching shawl. Maybe we could just tell her to keep it on at all times." "Or maybe we could not, because we didn't make a rule banning strapless gowns." "We've always assumed 'temple-standard' prom dresses." "But we've never said that. And it's not even low-cut." "It's not as though she's got much there to display, anyway," the PTA Preident-type commented loudly enough that it was apparently intended for my ears. [That one, I must admit, stung just a bit. Jared squeezed my hand.] "It just shows her skinny little shoulders," someone else said. "How can we be SURE she's old enough to be here? We don't want to start any sort of a precedent." In the end, they asked me to show them my ID. They looked back and forth at the picture and at my face, carefully comparing several times, then paused to scrutinize the age on the ID. They asked me my date of birth, checking to see that it matched what was on the ID.

After what seemed like the length of half of a basketball game, Jared and I were allowed to enter the gymnasium, which had been decorated with mid-sized fake potted trees strung with tiny white lights. Tiny white lights also adorned the basketball hoops and nets. Mormons are masterful at decorating and disguising basketball hoops for slightly more formal occasions. White table cloths covered round tables, each of which was surrounded by ten chairs. Place cards designated seats for couples.

This was a departure from my own tradition. At my high school prom, couples made their own dinner arrangements, and then arrived at the prom afterward. Drinks and very light refreshments were served, but a meal was not part of the school-provided festivities. Jared and I found our seats. Shortly thereafter, men --apparently fathers of the attendees -- dressed in black pants, white long-sleeved dress shirts, and ties, appeared carrying trays loaded with McDonald's cheeseburgers and fries. Had it been up to me, I would've added to the ambience by dressing the waiters as Mayor McCheese, Hamburglar, Ronald McDonald, and other McDonaldLand characters, but perhaps there's a good reason I'm not in charge of such things. Furthermore, it wasn't MY prom; I was merely Jared's guest. The drink was McDonald's Orange Hi C. For those who didn't want Orange Hi C, drinking fountains were available at various points at the perimeter of the gymnasium. The litle toys that come with Happy Meals weren't given to us. Perhaps they were given to children at a homeless shelter or distributed at a children's hospital.

I'm not a food snob. I ate a cheeseburger after carefully using a napkin to scrape off all the onions, pickles, mustard, ketchup, and whateer else was on the burger besides the meat, cheese, and bun. I don't eat condiments; I only eat totally plain hamburgers. I didn't eat any fries. It's not that I have anything against McDonald's fries; I just don't really like french fries, period. They're not on my Donner Party list, but when there's enough other food around, I choose not to eat fries. Dessert wss those rectangular-shaped apple pies. I knew I wouldn't be able to eat an entire one and didn't want to be accused of wasting food, so I carefully cut one across the center and ate half of it. Jared ate the remaning half, as well as his own. Our table seemed quieter than the surrounding tables, and the other couples appeared to be paying particularly close attention to us. I tried to chew with my mouth closed, keep my napkin in my lap, and to observe all of the Emily Post rules of etiquette that I knew.

A girl seated directly across from me said, "You're from California, aren't you?" She wasn't looking directly at me, so I looked to my right and to my left, then made direct eye contact with her before assuming it was I she was questioning.

"Yes, I am," I answered her, attempting to smile politely.

"Do you know how I knew?" she asked, not making it clear that this particular question was directed at me.

Following a moment of silence, a boy seated across the table who was not her date responded somewhat condescendingly, "No, JoLynn, we don't know how you knew, but you're probably going to tell us, aren't you?"

"It's the dress, "Jo Lynn announced, smiling. "No one around here wears dresses like THAT!" She pointed at my carnation-pink satin dress, strapless but otherwise unremarkable in regard to the amount of skin it showed as opposed to the dresses worn by any of the other girls seated at our table.

"Where'd you get it, anyway?" JoLynn asked. "From Victoria's Secret?"

"Actually I got it in Salt Lake City at ZCMI," I lied. ZCMI (Zion's Cooperative Mercantile Incorporated) is a popular moderate-to-upscale chain clothing store in Utah that was originally owned and operated by the LDS church and at one time held a monopoly on clothing of its kind. A lie is a lie, and unless it's done to spare someone's feelings, which this one was clearly not, there's no way to put a positive spin on it, but I felt mildly justified in having told the untruth because just the day before, I had spotted a dress almost identical in style to mine but turquoise in color in the window of the ZCMI just across from Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

"I think your dress is beautiful," another girl commented, and the two girls at the table besides JoLynn agreed.

"I never said I didn't LIKE your dress," JoLynn attempted in damage control. "It's just a little immodest for this area."

"Meow," one of the boys at the table said.

"It's apparently not all that immodest if they sell it at ZCMI," another boy chimed in. I felt slightly guilty for my lie,

Then the conversation moved along more naturally. All the kids were curious as to my age -- they found it hard to believe I'm sixteen, and were curious as to why I was graduating a year early. They were interested in my schooling situation. I looked at Jared and explained to the others that I spent part of each week at a special accelerated school on the coast, and the remainder of the week at my home school. We both felt justified in not disclosing that I'm a patient in a psych ward,

Eventually the Happy Meal portion of the prom ended. Tables were moved back so that seating was still available but so that adequate space would be provided for dancing. The band played songs more like a band in California might have played several years ago. They seemed to rely heavily on hits from Nirvana, Beastie Boys, Foo Fighters, Cold Play, and The Smashing Pumpkins. I've heard higher-quality bands, but this band was clearly better than the band at the California prom I attended recently. Things went along smoothly enough throughout the dancing portion of the prom. Once the meal was over, I never saw JoLynn again. Several girls complimented me on my dress. I complimented them on theirs as well.

After the conclusion of the prom at the predetermined hour of midnight, Jared and I had permission to go to a local restaurant with one other couple for ice cream. We each had sundaes. We ate them slowly but not too slowly, as my curfew was 1:00a.m., and consequences would have been imposed had I been late. Jared and I made it inside Scott and Jillian's door, where I would be spending the night, with two minutes to spare.

My parents were spending the night at Scott's parents' home, but they had come over to Scott's and Jillian's place to visit with Jillian's parents and to hear about how the prom went. Jillian's brother Timmy took more pictures of me (pictures had been taken before the prom as well). My mom asked how things had gone. I told her about the lengthy screening process that was about like what a Muslim could have expected at an airport in New York City were racial profiling allowed. My dad just laughed and said, "That's one of the many reasons why we don't live in Utah."

I told my mom and Jillian's mom, whom I call "Aunt Ilianna," about what JoLynn said about how she could tell I was from California because of my immodest dress. I also admitted to the lie I told in response. Both my mom and Aunt Ilianna felt that I was perfectly justified in having said what I did.

Scott and Jillian came home at about 2:00 a.m. Jillian had been driving because Scott was in no condition to sucessfully maneuver a Hot Wheels car along a track, much less operate an actual motor vehicle. Uncle Scott hugged me and told me that I looked beautiful. I don't know whether or nor he remembered that he had seen me before the prom. He'd had a big day. My parents left, and Jillian's parents and Timmy went to bed. Timmy wanted to sleep on the couch and let me have the daybed in the downstairs office, but Uncle Jerry has a thing about safety, anf he felt that I was safer on the upstairs loveseat closer to others rather than downstairs.

Jillian helped Scott to bed, then had me get into my pj's and brought me up to her room to talk. We got in her bed and talked because Scott was sleeping so soundly that we could have jumped on the bed and screamed the "Hallelujah Chorus" without waking him.

I told Aunt Jillian about JoLynn. Jillian said that, having gone through BYU as a non-Mormon, she dealt with girls like that on a daily basis, She said that Karma has a way of getting even with them -- that they're never quite as happy as they would have been if they'd a bit been nicer to people along the way. I also told her about the PTA President lady who had made the comment about my lack of breast development. She promised to find out who the lady was and to have one of her brothers- or sisters-in-law call the woman on her rudeness. She said it was totally unnecessary and out of place.

Even though this wasn't MY prom, so to speak, it was probably more like a real prom experience for me because I didn't carry into it all the baggage that I took along to my prom. I'm glad I went to both, but despite a few awkward moments, I had a better time at this one.

I'm now tucked under sheets and blankets on a loveseat that is just my size in an alcove outisde the two upstairs bedrooms. If Danny Kretchmer or any other evil force shows up to abduct me, Uncle Jerry will be only about five steps away.

Good night!


  1. If you were hypnotised by Dr Chase to forget your Evil Prom Year, wouldn't that mean you would also have to forget having met Dr Chase?

  2. Dear Lord... McDonald's catered the "prom"? JoLynn sounds like a jerk. Good for you for not letting her embarrass you with her rude comment.