what she wore in high school
March 1, 2002 11:03 AM

Looking through the delia's catalog last night made me think. I might almost be sorry I didn't go to my own prom.

It's not that I didn't go to proms. Oh, I went to proms. Went to dances of all sorts, even went to a prom and some other sort of dance with a girl, although not in a daring lesbian sort of way. [By the way, Ms. Snide, I'm not mad about the prom thing anymore; it was so many years ago I can't remember what was bad about it. Every time I think about it, I worry that you think that I'm still angry at you for, I guess, having a boring prom, which I believe was the crux of the problem.] There were shiny dresses and sequins and boys who weren't dates involved in these dances.

But the clothes. The delia's prom clothes are such a perfect mix of punk rock, New Jersey slut, and wholesome high school americana. I need a tulle skirt and coordinating black ruffled corset. I need short spiky-heeled sandals.

We didn't have prom fashion like this. Or maybe we did, and I just shopped in the wrong places.

I once owned a strapless, crinolined, pale pink thing. Made out of that tapestry fabric that was half Scarlet O'Hara's curtains and half Jessica McClintock, the quintessence of fin de la décennie prom fashion. There were sequins involved. There was a snap-on bow. This was the dress of the boring prom.

There are pictures. Pictures that highlight the matching purse, wrap, and shoes. Glittery pantyhose (which really just make for creepy legs when photos are snapped).

I find these pictures embarassing.

There was another dress, a deep green velvet thing, also crinolined, as crinolines are something I have never grown into or out of. I had a crinolined dress (smokey blue velour, with white lace and little ducky buttons) when, as a five year old, I played a talking doll in a school play. I said, and I quote, Hi, Mommy. The green velvet dress was lovely, and associated with a few much more entertaining dances.

All of that was junior year of high school. The year I had a very strong need to be a girl.

And I also owned one black t-shirt with bold white text proclaiming "I can't. I have a rehearsal." The t-shirt predates senior year, but also epitomises it. My life was packed tightly in between rehearsals and scholoarship interviews and award luncheons (hello, valedictorian) with accompanying photo sessions.

I was dark. I had purple hair. I tested colleges by going to interviews with said hair and darkness. Except for Georgetown and William & Mary. For them, I dyed the hair green.

It was not my best color.

So this t-shirt. Ended up not so much black as a combination of black and whatever color we painted the several sets between the acquisition of t-shirt and its demise. Which, including the need to repaint the floor of the black box, meant it was still mostly black. It worked well over a shrunken thermal with my father's last name scrawled along the bottom, worked with fishnet tights and plaid skirts and the oxblood docs all the straightedge kids were wearing. Not that I was; we just had the same shoes.

And if the girl who wore that t-shirt had picked out a prom dress. She might have gotten it out of the delia's catalog. She would have bypassed the short spiky heels in favor of something that made more of a statement.

She would have had fabulous prom pictures.

But she didn't go. She had a rehearsal.

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