J is for Junior Prom: My awkward first date. Tenth of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.
When I started classes at Maine-Endwell Junior High in 1963 — we Hooper Schoolers merged with the other elementary kids from Homer Brink across town. This brought new experiences — like changing classes and many teachers — along with new friendships that have lasted to this day.
But best of all were the monthly dances in the school gym, where we teens learned to socialize. That’s where some of my crushes developed — on boys and on dancing itself. I never missed a school dance, they were that much fun!
So much fun, that when Junior Prom rolled around in 1965, I really wanted to go. The problem was, you had to have a date — and at 15, I did not have a boyfriend or even a close enough male pal who could escort me. Waiting to be asked
Then, boys were still expected to ask girls to the prom, and girls were supposed to wait/hope to be asked. The popular girls easily lined up dates — but as Prom Night drew closer, my dilemma seemed impossible.
Then one day after social studies, a classmate walked over to my desk — I’ll call him Guillaume (his French-class name) — and quickly asked me to go to the prom with him. I was so surprised, I blurted out “l’ll let you know” — and he blushed and walked away.
I’d known Guillaume since Hooper School. Although he was smart and a good classmate, I’d never had a crush on him — so he wouldn’t have been my choice for prom date. But our teacher, who’d overheard the exchange, thought I should give him a chance.
“Of course you’re going to tell him yes, aren’t you?” he asked. So in the end, that’s what I did — and that’s how I ended up on my awkward first date.
In many ways, the early teens are an embarrassing time when you try to figure out the rules of life and where you fit in — all while being buffeted about by myriad pressures. Attending Junior Prom on my first real date was a prime example.
To begin with, I was the only one on my street going to Junior Prom that year. So news of my date spread up and down our block of 50-odd kids, assuring a large, raucous audience would be milling around our front lawn on the big night. Yikes!
Then there were the unfamiliar rules for formal dances. I’d need to get a new dress and shoes, have my hair pinned and sprayed into a updo by the hairdresser mom across the street, and buy a boutonniere for Guillaume — who was sure to bring me a corsage. This was all too much when I was used to flying solo at more casual school dances.
Yet to be at the Junior Prom, I went through it all. The hooting of the neighbor kids when I stepped out the front door with a corsage at my wrist. The car ride to the Junior High in the back seat with Guillaume (his mother at the wheel). The arrival at the dance, where everyone was paired up.
But then an odd thing happened. Although we were supposed to be in couples, at the prom everyone gravitated to their usual cliques — and it felt like a regular dance. The girls admired each others’ dresses while the boys fell into their own groups — and most of the dance songs were fast and freestyle, with nobody really sticking to their date.
The only truly awkward moment was the requisite couples slow dance — when Guillaume and I danced close, even though we’d never spent time together outside of class. And with that, the prom was over.
When Guillaume’s mom arrived to drive us home, she asked if we’d like to stop off for hamburgers or something on the way. But I begged off, since we were going to my grandparents’ house early the next day.
And after they dropped me off, I realized that even though I definitely had no sparks with Guillaume, I’d had a pretty good time at the Junior Prom — and I was glad I’d listened to that teacher and said yes.
Up next, K is for Kents and the creek. Please leave a comment, then join me as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!
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