I keep forgetting to mention that I have a story in a new anthology out now–21 PROMS. They are, shockingly, stories about prom. And there are 21 of them. Yes, we like to keep you on your toes with our mysterious ways.
You’ll also find stories by Holly Black, Rachel Cohn, John Green, E. Lockhart, Cecily Von Ziegesar, Jacqueline Woodson, Melissa de la Cruz,. Elizabeth Craft, Sarah Mlynowski, Aimee Friedman, Daniel Ehrenhaft, David Levithan, Jodi Lynn Anderson, Leslie Margolis, Brent Hartinger, Lisa Ann Sandell, Will Leitch, Adrienne Maria Vrettos, Ned Vizzini, and Billy Merrell. Good people, all.
I’m looking forward to promming it this week. Yep, I’m going to sit near the book and say, meaningfully, “Wow, prom is coming up. (pause) Yeppers. Next week. (pause) I don’t have a date yet. (whistle) Oh, you’re going with Tina Landry, she of the enormous…shoes. No, sounds great, sounds great. Me? When I said I didn’t have a date yet what I meant was…I didn’t have a date yet for…this thing–no, this OTHER thing that I totally have to attend. What? I’m, a, uh, um, I’m developing a third eye. Yeah, it’s a new program, very intensive, gonna require lots and lots and lots of attention, no time to have shoes died to match my dress, but thanks for asking.”
I’m going to put baby’s breath in my hair at odd angles so that it makes me look like Princess Leia after rolling down a flowery hill. I’m going to wear uncomfortable shoes, sit on the sidelines of my house with other (imaginary) girls and guys I do not know, smiling uncomfortably, watching people slow dance. I’m going to imagine some terrible cover band is playing, “Celebrate,” urging us to “get down!” before seguing into one of the worst power ballads of all time with a singer who also does Thursday happy hours at the Holiday Inn bar. She wears a lot of frosted blue eyeshadow and polyester. I’m going to smell Binaca breath spray mixed with drugstore perfume and the overly generous use of After Shave. I’m going to pretend that at least one guy makes the party horns with his thumb, forefinger and pinkie, while saying, very cleverly, “Party!!!” I’m going to imagine the chemistry teacher flirting with the just-out-of-student-teaching biology teacher, her playing with her perfectly feathered hair, and the choir director prosletizying for the First Baptist youth group while serving punch that is a color not found in nature. I’m going to imagine several guys using Visine as they come out of the bathroom, and at least one girl lurching drunkenly toward us saying, “Oh my god, y’all, I’m so drunk,” as if I have lost the powers of observation and smell.
And once the mood is appropriately set, I am going to read every single story. I will be grateful that there is such a thing as a prom and that I never, ever have to go again. And I will be especially grateful to get to read cool stories by cool writers I really like.
I did not get asked to my senior prom. In fact, I could barely get arrested in high school in terms of dating. (Lots of guy friends. Lot of guy friends who often asked me who they should take to prom. Oh, it’s all so John Hughes, isn’t it?)
But my friend Maria, whose parents were quite strict, could only go to prom if she doube-dated. I believe her opener in the girls’ bathroom was, “Libba, you don’t have a date for prom, do you?” Why no. No, I don’t. Thanks for assuming. So she arranged a date for me with a guy from the Jesuit school in Dallas. The guy turned out to be someone I went to middle school with, a really cool guy who showed up in a tux…and red hightop sneakers. And I thought, yeah, this’ll work.
There was no pressure, and we had a great time. The only two things I remember are all of us who were into new wave rushing the dance floor when they played the B-52’s “Rock Lobster,” and scaring the bejesus out of the Hall & Oates/Van Halen/”Endless Love” crowd who thought we were freaks for creating a sort of prom mosh pit and ending up on the floor. They were probably right, but it’s a fond memory. The other thing I remember is going to somebody’s house for a senior breakfast and hearing the Tom-Tom Club’s “Genius of Love” for the first time and loving it. And yes, there was baby’s breath (oh, the burning shame) and the dress was peach taffeta. Peach. Taffeta. Take a moment. I know I need one. One match and I could have reenacted “The Wicker Man.” Now, THAT would have been a prom.
So–21 PROMS. On sale now. Check it out. Take a date or go stag. Baby’s breath optional.