Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Alternate Universe Prom

I never went to my High School prom.

Partly because I didn't have a girlfriend at the time. And partly because I hated getting dressed up. But mostly because of the music. Sappy power ballads and crappy "dance music" played by a third-rate band or a bored, clueless DJ? "Celebrate good times, C'mon!"? Thanks. But no.

So I didn't go. And I might never have given it a second thought. Except for the music (which I was sure sucked because most of my classmates had musical taste that ran the gamut from mainstream pap to dreck).

A few months go by and a friend of mine tells me I should've gone to the Prom, I would've loved it – the Prom theme was “White Punks on Dope.” By the Tubes. Which suddenly made sense to me. It was literally like a light bulb suddenly appeared, shining brightly, above my head.

See, I grew up in a college town filled with angsty, disaffected White kids whose parents worked at the local colleges. In my High School, we never bothered to read Faulkner because we were too busy reading Kurt Vonnegut. Political correctness may not have been born in my hometown, but it definitely bought its first free-range organic kale snacks there.

Knowing my Prom theme transformed my view of my hometown. So for years, I would brag about my hometown, using our Prom theme as proof of what an amazing, progressive place it was. My only regret? Not going to the Prom.

For more than 15 years, I told people that story... and everyone would chuckle or nod, amused at the idea of a school cool enough to select “White Punks on Dope” as their Prom theme (and perhaps secretly wishing they'd gone to my Prom, too).

Then, a few months ago, I tell a friend this story and she stares at me, confused, then asks what the Prom theme really was. "'White Punks on Dope.' By the Tubes," I say. She shakes her head sadly and looks at me with pity. "No way in hell that was your Prom theme. Proms are official school events. School officials have to approve the theme. And there's no school official who would approve a theme like 'White Punks on Dope.' No matter how cool and amazing you think your school was."

And then I realized the worst part: the High School friend who told me this months after the Prom must have been joking with me. And I didn't realize it. Maybe this person was cruel or just didn't want to take away my enjoyment by telling me the truth. (And I can't even remember who it was to double-check.)

Suddenly, the story I'd told myself and others for years is just wrong. And in retrospect, my High School is just a lot less cool.

But in an alternate universe, there is a school somewhere that would select "White Punks on Dope" and have the school officials approve it. I'd give almost anything to live in that world -- even go to the Prom.

1 comment:

Tyler Hewitt said...

Great story.
I can relate, I never went to my high school prom, either. In fact, the night of my senior prom, I went to a screening of the Ramones movie 'Rock and Roll High School' where I met Michael Moore (yes, the filmmaker). At the time, he was publishing a lefty newspaper called The Flint Voice which was shaping my political views. I finished the evening with a trip to McDonalds. I'm sure I had a much better time than I would have at the prom.