The other day I got a message from a girl I went to high school with reporting on our 10 year class reunion. I was unable to attend, but deeply curious about my former Indians. Most of her report I found "typical" until she mentioned the fateful name of Jeff Miller. Just seeing that name in print makes me cringe. Why? Well, for many high school students Prom Night is supposed to be the crowning moment of their adolescence years. Many lucky individuals are able to say that Prom Night was the night they lost their virginity, drank for the first time and felt like an absolute princess. For me, I wouldn't say it was the "crowning moment." Instead, I would call the night simply unforgettable.
Two weeks before the Prom I didn't have a date. I can't remember exactly why I was in this predicament, but I think it had something to do with the small fact that I wasn't going to be completely wasted at the end of the night. Anyway, to be honest, I wasn't too concerned about finding a date. However, my parents were a little more troubled. I remember one night at dinner my mom asked if I had found a date yet. I replied no and watched as my parents tried to sneak a glance at each other. They then started to suggest some lucky guys, and then finally told me that if I had a dress (which my mom and I had already painstakingly found) I HAD to have a date. Therefore, to appease their worried minds I got up from the table and called one Jeff Miller. Fortunately, he didn't have a date and after one humiliating question we were on the road to being the next Prom King and Queen.
Now let me take a moment to describe Jeff Miller. I had known him since first grade and he was completely off my radar until my senior year. We sort of started to date in February and went to the Spring Dance together. I wasn't really interested in him, but I wanted to date someone and he seemed like a cool guy. Going out with him was alright, but the biggest problem was the fact that I could never find him before our dates. He was always "playing the guitar" with his friend Baker. Now Baker has to be mentioned because we were usually mistaken for each other. He had long blonde hair and was about my height. Consequently, more times than I would like to admit, someone would try to get my attention by screaming, "Baker!" I don't know who should have been more offended: me being mistaken for a feminine looking guy or a guy being mistaken for a girl?
Anyway, the day of the prom came around and I had my hair done, eye brows plucked and make-up applied. (So, I sort of got the princess part down) However, I couldn't find Jeff. I called his house and his mom said, "he was playing guitar with Baker." Awesome. Finally, Jeff made it to my house for some awkward pictures. It was strange, here I was all dressed up, and I really felt like if given the opportunity I would feel no remorse hitting this guy in the face. I guess you can dress up a girl, but you can't dress down a growing attitude. Needless to say I wasn't overly excited about this night.
After pictures at my house we went over to where Baker and his "date" (some other poor girl stuck as second string to his guitar buddy) were taking pictures. Before I could smudge my make-up for the tenth time Jeff and Baker were holding onto each other and asking for their moms to take their pictures. This was getting incredibly bizarre.
Finally, the photo shoot ended and we drove to the Prom. As soon as we entered I went to find my friends and he went to find...well, come on do I really need to write it? I have to admit as soon as I got away from Miss Miller the night actually turned fun. As to be expected most of my friends were regretting their date choices as well and for the rest of the night we all danced together. Things were going well until I looked up at the large screen showing all of us dancing. Right up on the screen was Baker and Jeff dancing together. Dancing...close. My friends all started to laugh and pointed at me yelling, "Your Prom Date is Gay!!" Again, awesome.
After the Prom we had to go the After Prom party. This is the parents' attempt to keep their kids from getting completely loaded until "at least" four in the morning, spending ridiculous amounts of money and working for absolute no thanks. As we entered the After Prom Jeff turned to me, and while hitting me in the arm, said, "Well thanks for being my date." I almost wanted to come back with a left hook, but decided to go find my mom instead. She was working the After Prom and after a disastrous night I couldn't imagine another person I wanted to see. I remember I walked into the Athletic office where she was directing kids to change, and I said, "Mom, turns out Jeff is gay." She just looked at me and started to laugh. One of the other saddest parts of the night was the fact that I had to get up at the crack of dawn to go play in a lacrosse tournament the following day. So, I told my mom, as she continued to laugh, I was going to go hang out for a few hours and then head home.
This is the part that probably makes me most depressed. Remember how I said all my friends left their dates at the actual Prom? Well, somehow, and maybe due to some alcohol, they were completely hooked at the hips when we entered the After Prom. So, there I stood: way too many hair pins digging into my head, blisters burning from my "elegant" shoes and a strong desire to kill a suspected gay high school student. Fortunately, I ran into an old friend of mine, who had graduated the previous year, but somehow got hooked into working this amazing event, and we played Black Jack for an hour.
Now if you aren't fully depressed yet, there's two more fun parts of the story. After an hour of playing Black Jack it was announced that the band was going to start playing. "The Band" was not a group of musically talented people, but five guys who attempted to play covers (without a singer...never do you become aware of how boring a song can be until you listen to the same chords over and over). Anyway, because I'm such a strong person I followed the masses congregating around "the Band." As I approached I instantly noticed something didn't seem right. All the "boys" had make-up on and had teased their hair. It was the most pathetic "hair band" attempt I had ever seen. In the middle of this 1980's flashback was Jeff. Awkwardly he stood in his tux with eye liner, mascara AND the lip stick my mom had given me in hopes I would fall in love with make-up and re-apply all night long. (Instead, I had handed over the lip stick immediately to Jeff and asked him to hold it for me...my first mistake). As Jeff and I made eye contact he reached into his pocket and tossed me the used lip stick. I don't think I caught it. I think it actually hit off my chest and landed on the floor. (I don't know - something inside of me just didn't want to touch it anymore.)
With the realization that, yes, I had asked a gay man to Prom, I decided to cash out and head home. It was about three in the morning at this time, and I couldn't decide if I was completely depressed, shocked or annoyed. I got into my Volvo station wagon and headed out of the high school parking lot. In broad daylight I used to run every stop sign. It somehow made up for the fact that I didn't smoke pot in the bathroom or drink on the weekends. However, at the last stop sign I saw a cop sitting across the street. Undoubtedly, he had seen my reckless driving and I knew I about to end this night on a real "high." For about a mile he followed me and then finally turned on his lights. It was the first time I had ever been pulled over and all I could hear were my friends telling me to start crying. Sympathy was the name of the game. Instead, I was past the point of crying. I was more in the stage of hysterically hitting someone.
When the cop came up to my window he simply said, "Are you serious? Four stop signs in a row." I then reminded him that we were in the middle of farmland, that it was three in the morning and I didn't think anyone would be on the road. He then asked, "Have you been drinking?" With an absolute straight face I said, "No, but my Prom date was gay." He looked me in the eye and told me to go straight home and follow every traffic rule. I nodded, put the car in drive and went home.
So there you have it. The reason why Mr. Jeff Miller will always cause a bit of tremor through my body. I have forgiven him, but I must admit there was a small piece of joy I felt when my friend told me he was recently divorced. (Insert "guitar playing" joke here)