Tuesday, September 07, 2010

I Remember: One Of The Loneliest Nights In My Life -- My Junior High School Prom

I remember….one of the loneliest night of my life…my ninth grade prom at Lowell Jr. High on the east side of Flint, Michigan.

I had a crush on a girl in junior high and I would have done anything to get this girl’s attention – but I don’t think she even knew I existed.  It might have helped if I hadn’t been so damn shy, but when your parents split up and your Mother remarries only to get another divorce and you live in five different houses – all in the span of some six years – shyness becomes the only defense you have to avoid getting hurt. 

I really never got involved in anything at school – because the way things were going – who knew how long I would be attending that school…that’s why I really didn’t have any friends until my high school years.  Sometime I felt like I was just “passing through” during those elementary and junior high school years and there was no need to me to get involved in anything that would make me feel like I was putting down some kind of roots….that was until the junior high school prom.

Her name was Barbara and not only was she cute, but she was also smart and one of the more popular girls in school.  At lunch time, Barbara was not at a loss for friends at her table in the cafeteria – where as I was usually the kid sitting alone with his carton of white milk that actually enjoyed the meatloaf that the cafeteria ladies slapped on your tray once a week.    I would admire Barbara from a distance day dreaming that she might actually like me and that guys would be envious of me because of Barbara “liking me”….but as I said….she didn’t even know that I existed.

I thought that I might finally have my “in” in trying to get to know Barbara when it was announced that a committee was being formed to organize the 9th grade prom.  I knew that Barbara was going to be involved in the prom, so I thought that I would throw my hat into the ring and do something to make the prom a big success, so I signed up and attended a meeting of the prom committee one night after school.  Why I should get involved in something like this was beyond me – here I was – a guy who never went to any of the junior high school dances during all my junior high years now getting involved in the prom – what was I thinking?  Hell…I can’t even dance!

While everybody on the prom committee decided on a theme and what they could do for decorations – I told them that I would work on publicity for the event – but not the normal type of publicity (crappy water colored painted posters posted throughout the school); I was going to take publicity for the junior high school prom to a new level….commercials (little did I know that writing commercials for radio stations would become my career when I got older).  I told them I would write the commercials….we could record them on one of the school’s 3M Wollensak reel-to-reel recorders and the principle could play a commercial every day during the morning p.a. announcements.  Everyone thought it was a great idea and they told me to go ahead and do it….and that’s just what I did.

I don’t remember exactly how many commercials I wrote and recorded – but I can remember producing the commercials one night after school in the same English classroom where I would read my copy of the Detroit Free Press while everyone else was reading “The Odyssey of Homer”.  The scripts for the prom commercials required some acting and the odds are pretty damn good that they were terrible – but it was junior high school – and the only reason that I was doing this anyway was to try and put the spotlight on myself and get Barbara to notice me.  Did it work?  Nope.

I was as invisible to Barbara on the night of the prom as I was before the prom.  I can remember my Mom buying me a brand new yellow banlon turtle neck shirt at K-Mart to wear to the prom and this chain with flat diamond shaped pieces of brown wood that my Mom actually thought was “love beads”.  In my Mom’s eyes – I was going to drive the girls’ wild at this prom – little did she know.

When I got to the prom – a couple of people made some comments about the “love beads” – which gave me a good reason to take them off and put them in my pocket – and that’s about the only thing anybody ever said to me that night.  While most of the people were dancing on the dance floor or playing bumper pool in the room off of the gym, I was either walking around the gym or sitting in the bleachers watching everything going on around me.  Barbara was there, as popular as ever, and when they weren’t praising her for how great the prom was she was dancing with a guy, who I later found out was her boyfriend.

I left the prom early that night.  The girl who I liked didn’t even know I existed despite all that I did to get her attention…plus…I can’t dance and was too shy to ask anyone to dance with me if I did, so I left.  I couldn’t go right home, because then I would have to answer all of the questions that my Mom would have about the prom and I couldn’t tell her the truth.  So, I walked around the softball fields that the junior high school shared with the elementary school – occasionally sitting on one of the benches near the softball diamonds and just stared at the stars in the sky 

There it was – my junior high school prom – (one of) the loneliest nights in my life. 

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