It is that time of the year again when high schools across the nation have their annual ritual call Prom, a time when pictures pop up across social media of so many youthful young couples looking to be heading for an evening (or maybe all night) of fun and memories.
Sometimes I look at some of the couples pictured and I wonder, in 25, 35, or 50 years are they going to look back at what they wore and ask themselves – ‘what the heck was I thinking?’.
Especially the guys, as I have the oldest grandson who went to prom this past weekend and while I must admit that he cleaned up and dressed up nicely, some of his buddies I had to wonder about.
We had one young man who looked like Uncle Sam without the whiskers, another with what looked like sparkling stars all over his suit, another that wore pure white, and the one that made my wife ask – ‘is he wearing pajama’s?’
But overall, what all those pictures made me think of was my own prom of some nearly 42 years in the past. My own prom, complete with that first love of my life and a couple of friends who teamed up with us for an evening, into the night, into the early morning full of laughter, dancing, food, fun and many memories filed away in my sometimes seemingly nearly full box of memories between my ears.
Do I remember the theme of my prom, you bet I do and every time I hear the romantic ballad it takes me back to the day, the getting ready and wanting to look just right, the nervousness of picking up my lady, the precious moments of dancing to that theme song of ‘Color My World’.
Getting ready for that evening about made me a wreck as I wanted to be perfect for my lady and friends, dressed in my creamy colored suit jacket and brown slacks with two-toned brown platform shoes. Getting my hair to look just right was near a nightmare as it was long, just past the top of the collar, and thick enough that at times it seemed as if I had a white-mans version of a ‘Fro.
Picking up my high school sweetheart, that first love of my life, had me a bundle of nerves as I knew I wanted the whole evening to be perfect for her – for Betsy Ann.
When she came into her parent’s living room I was nearly overwhelmed by her stunning country style beauty and dress. A dress of tannish cream, with a dash of brown and pink patterns across the chest of the front and to me she looked so perfect I was thinking – is she really going with me?
I remember we met up with Brenda (one of my teacher’s daughter) and Mark (the high school athlete – quarterback in football, point guard in basketball and a teacher’s kid), and drove to Rochester about 45 minutes away and ate at an upscale place at the top of a downtown building.
The older I get the more I seem to forget about most of the evening and night itself, except for several memorable dances to songs which may always be my Betsy songs, and some quiet time for just Betsy Ann and I to be together talking, sharing and making lifetime memories, but I do remember how the whole prom weekend ended, sometime around sunrise the next morning.
It ended with the two ladies making Mark and I breakfast at Brenda’s parents home around sunrise, complete with some orange juice which seemed to have an extra punch to it – what that punch was is our forever secret, though many can figure it out.
The following Monday while I began my class time with Mr. Northwick (Brenda’s Dad), he began to talk about prom weekend and what the positives and the negatives were from it before starting in on those who were out all night and then finished up prom early in the morning with things like breakfast. I remember asking him if I could share my end of prom night thoughts – he changed the subject back to what we were studying, imagine that.
I recently talked to Mr. Northwick, now a widower and somewhat alone as not only has he lost his wife but both Brenda and her sister have passed on as well. Lucky for me, he remembers that weekend and the class discussion the Monday after, and thankfully we shared the good memories and had a laugh about it as well.
As for Betsy Ann, I have lost touch with her the past few years – I used to call her on her birthday, which will always be on April Fool’s Day. But while I am very happily married for almost 26 years now, Betsy Ann still is and always will be that first favorite lady friend, that first high school crush, that first-time love of my life.
As for Betsy Ann, prom weekends will always remind me of her and that first tingle of innocent sharing that brought the two of us fun, laughter, tears, hopes and our first adventure in love.
As with many or most first loves, we moved in different directions over just a couple of years. And while we reconnected a couple of times, we realized then of what we had and what we let get away.
Now as my trip of life enters the latter years, I have found true love and companionship again with my wife Linda, and prom weekends remind me that the love I have now maybe would not have happened had I not first found love back then.
Until next time – prayers, blessings and happy thoughts, Grumpy Gramps
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