The first time I went to the prom, we drove through McDonald’s for dinner on the way. I was a sophomore in a tiny town in Oklahoma and my boyfriend was a senior. I don’t remember anything about the prom itself, but I remember buying cheap beer at the grocery store after and staying out all night drinking in a field, then sleeping in a car for a few hours while parked on a dirt road.
I saved and saved for the dress, which looking back now was a very unfortunate fashion choice. It was white lace, mermaid-shaped and strapless, form fitting until it reached my knees, where it sprung out into white satin. It was the most glamorous thing I had ever seen. I bought matching (fake) pearl jewelry, which I might still have in a box somewhere, with a program and pictures and maybe even a champagne glass with 1988 etched on it. Do they still give kids glasses intended for alcohol at high school proms?
The second time I went to prom, when I was a junior, I took a sophomore. He was super cute and really tall and I was so excited that he wanted to go with me. We went to an actual restaurant for dinner with a group of his friends. Who he ditched me for as soon as we got the prom. I think he offered to take me home before he headed out to the after parties without me.
The third time I went to the prom, I was in California and my boyfriend was in college. He was an actor and in a truck club (by which I mean he and his friends would get together and cruise together in their tricked out trucks and they named themselves). He was so cute and so cool and it was my senior prom so it seemed like I should lose my virginity to him after. I was very disappointed when he went home directly after the prom with barely a kiss goodbye. I wore another white lace dress. Fortunately without the mermaid extras this time.
I don’t know why he skipped the sure-thing virgin. Maybe he felt guilty since I soon found out I was just one of many of his girlfriends. So I guess it was a good thing that my dreams of a magical night were thwarted. Not that who I lost my virginity to makes any difference at all in the course of my life, but at the time it probably would have fucked me up for a while once I learned about those extra girlfriends.
I wonder sometimes where everyone is now. I don’t wonder what my life would have been like had I stayed with one of the boys I knew in high school. It never crossed my mind for a minute, even back then, that would happen. But it’s startling how much my life has diverged from where it was then.
I looked for information online about that boy I went to my first prom with. The last I knew, he had joined the army. All I could find was an archive of his high school sports records from the 80s and a mugshot from a couple of years ago.
The guy I was hoping to lose my virginity to? It looks like he joined the army not longer after I lost touch with him and when he got out eight years later, he went to one of the lessor Cal States and tried to get into theatre again. Then he was a railroad conductor for a while. And now he lives in Texas and does something with logistics for truck and railway transportation. I even found a Pinterest board that might be his with lots of pins of motorcycles and muscle cars. I also found what I think is his profile on several networking sites for motorcycle riders.
He was really into motorcycles when we dated too. I remember once that a friend of his was in a terrible motorcycle accident and we visited him at the hospital. This was way before the days of commonplace helmets and the guy was pretty beat up. I had the typical high school girlfriend response: stop riding motorcycles, if anything like this ever happened to you, blah blah blah.
Here’s the truth. You know how sometimes you’re in a scary situation, like maybe you almost fall off a cliff or nearly get sideswiped by a car? And it’s only after you’re safe that you completely fall apart thinking about how close you came to disaster? Even though you’re absolutely fine and there’s no danger at all?
I feel like that.