From Hugh MacLeod's Gaping Void
I had the best non-prom ever.
I know. It’s summer. Prom season is SO over. But there’s a method to my ADD delayed madness. Wait for it.
Spring 2006 brought prom back to mind for the first time in years. I worked a prom special event shift at the Georgia Aquarium. Spying the teenage urchins arriving in their finery took me back. The flowers. The bling. A spectacle to watch. More interesting to note the cliques: the popular folk. The stoners. The punks. The dorks. And those that defied classification as anything other than ORIGINAL – my favorite ilk.
Ballroom shifts are pretty lame as a volunteer. "Where's the bathroom?" "Where's the exit?" Most are interested in the event and not the aminals, but these kids were more curious than I’d expected. Seems prom at the aquarium is the shiz in being there, doing that, and many hadn't been yet.
Didn’t work a prom this season, but prom was everywhere. First, with word on Georgia's small town of Ashburn and their first desegregated prom.
Next was Nougat’s prom attendance. She and her peeps did the group grope thing – the limo, hanging together, good times. She was gorgeous, eh?
And then Rick blagged about his son’s prom, with great snaps.
Prom. High school. I was *so* not a cool kid. I wasn’t uncool (or heavy and uncool, as Neil would say). But I was in the flotsam between acknowledgement and derision. Acceptance was conspicuously absent, with one exception: The Otters.
Now, The Otters were some cool ass-kids. “Membership” crossed clique lines, with monikers originally derived from Animal House. Otter and Boone were the appointed and anointed golden boys. Parties on the beach and at Otter Pop’s. Piling in the van to eat at Bennigan’s and Friday’s in Melbourne. Their adventures to the Keys. Much tomfoolery and righouteous revelry. Otter and Boone playing in 12 Hands and Feet at various parties – singing “Walking in L.A.” and “Private Idaho” with them was a HOOT!
Two years older than me, I feel into Otter and Boone’s gravitational pull during the halcyon summer before their college freshman year. Their visits home mapped my social calendar. By my own senior year, admiration of them had segued into the beginnings of lifelong friendships.
Otter’s seasonal college migration homeward coincided with my senior prom. Chatting on the phone that late afternoon about weekend plans, he had a WTF moment. His sister had just departed in her finery for prom, and why wasn’t I going? It was a no one asked, f*ck it policy, for me. Otter went into social cruise director mode and demanded I mosey my ass over for a non-prom experience.
It wasn’t anything special. Underage drinking at Otter Pop’s, watching 120 Minutes, The Young Ones, and Jack Mack & Rad Boy on MTV. A movie.
I left to head home in Das Boat (Grandma’s 1968 Plymouth Fury III), making the U-turn to head back up the street. Was just hitting some speed when I had to screech to a halt – Otter was in the middle of the effing street. He was damn lucky I didn't knock him down.
Seems Otter had to make sure I had at least one traditional prom experience: a kiss goodnight. Not a platonic peck, mind you, but a sweet, romantic kiss. I drove home the most serendipitously pleased non-prom goer. I may carry angst of missing out on ultimato dress up affairs (no prom, and a dress-down wedding to boot), but that kiss is one of my best memories. Of one of my best friends.
Fast forward 21 years, and Otter became an OtterPop on July 2nd, 2007. His chops with chicks are long standing and well formed, and his new baby girl is in the most excellent of hands. His gentle, open, and welcoming heart is already wrapped around hers, for life. Her future prom date has some HUGE shoes to fill, I tell ya.