[Note from the staff of VFTB: This week Tim Jones waxes nostalgic with fond memories of his high school senior prom. However, in the interest of editorial integrity, the staff felt obligated to set the record straight where Tim’s memory veers slightly from how the evening’s events actually transpired. – VFTB Staff]

It’s high school prom season. I am always cheered to see so many handsome young men dressed to the nines in their formal tuxedo and cummerbund with matching Nirvana t-shirt, high top sneakers and untied laces, escorting their lovely female companions to the big dance. It brings back memories of my own high school prom, one of the most magical evenings of my life.

I attended an all-boys’ private military academy. The prom tradition at our school was preceded by a formal military parade and competition, pitting drill teams from five companies in our school’s battalion against each other to see which company could create and execute the most original precision drill team performance without accidently shooting any of the guests.

I was Captain of Company B. My company only took out one onlooker but he didn’t actually have tickets to the competition, so it was partially his own fault. [Staff: Turned out to be Tim’s grandfather. He was old anyway.] The drill competition went off without a hitch, with almost no popular students impaled by a rifle bayonet.

The competition was followed by the prom, which at our school was called the Officers’ Ball. All the officers like me remained in our official dress uniforms, proudly flashing all our medals [staff: like Tim’s fourth place medal for reading in 3rd grade]. There I was, in my bemedaled uniform with my shiny officer’s sword. It was a scene straight out of An Officer and a Gentleman, with me playing the part of Richard Gere [staff: we’d say more like Bill Murray in Stripes].

I asked Loretta to be my date for the Officer’s Ball. [Staff: After Loretta turned him down, he asked Amy, then Joanne, then Janet, and finally Barbara, a quiet girl from Tim’s church.] Barbara was delighted to be my date [staff: so long as Tim promised not to try to get to first base]. The night was going to be memorable in ways I could not possibly imagine. [Staff: Well, he was right about that part. Keep reading.]

When the military drill competition was over, all of us officers escorted our dates to the ball. Barbara looked stunning in her yellow chiffon dress. [Staff: It was green silk.] I looked like the aristocratic prince in Beauty and the Beast [staff: before he was turned back into the handsome prince]. 

At the Officers’ Ball, as the captain of the winning company, I had the traditional honor of cutting the cake with my sword. All eyes were on me [staff: particularly when Tim barely missed slicing his date’s arm off while showing off his sword. He’s a menace with a sharp instrument.]

The military ball was a magical night for Barbara [staff: her 5-inch heels were killing her, she didn’t know a soul, and she wanted to go home]. She had never before attended a military ball [staff: and never would again]. Barbara was a bit shy about dancing in public [staff: because it meant being seen with Tim]. We had one very romantic dance together I will always cherish. It will always be our song. [Staff: The song? Rock ‘n Roll Part II by Gary Glitter.]

I was content just to gaze into my date’s lovely green eyes [staff: correction: brown] and attempt to get to first base. We would talk about anything and everything: college, countries we’d like to visit someday, our favorite Gary Glitter song …. [staff: were just a few of the topics Tim was too nervous to talk about.] It had been barely two hours [staff: but to Tim’s date it felt like two days] before it was time to change out of our formal attire, get comfortable and start hitting the rollicking after-ball parties. The fun had just begun [staff: and was soon about to end.]

I took my dream date back to her house so she could “slip into something more comfortable” [staff: blue jeans and a Red Sox jersey]. I drove her there in my stylish 1972 silver Corvette [staff: his father’s 1965 faded green Volvo with 127,000 miles and a dent on the passenger side]. It started to drizzle lightly. Very romantic.

Barbara slipped and fell on the driveway’s wet pavement. I came rushing to my maiden’s rescue, grabbing her delicate hand [staff: and proceeded to slip and fall down on top of her]. She was grateful for my chivalrous gesture [staff: and by “grateful” he means repulsed.] She slinked into my Vette [staff: beat-up Volvo!]. I attempted to put the car into reverse, and a most unexpected thing happened. I couldn’t get it out of park. In retrospect, perhaps God wanted us to just park there and make out. [Staff: Yeah, sure. That’s exactly what God had in mind – not.] 

As I tried to move the gear shift into reverse, it would not budge. I exerted even more brute force. Despite my herculean strength, I could not get the gear shift into reverse. We were momentarily detained. [Staff: as in “plantation owners momentarily detained blacks as slaves.”]

After a few more attempts, I heard an unlikely clanking sound. [Staff: That was the sound of a critical bolt falling out of the steering wheel box that held the gear shift.] As I pulled more firmly on the gear shift, I noticed that the tranquil silence of the evening was suddenly shattered [staff: by the car’s horn that went off every time Tim pulled on the gear shift]. The jarring noise startled Barbara, who clung tightly to me for safety. [Staff: Um, you have it backwards, Tim.] The harder I pulled on the gear shift, the louder the mysterious sound [staff: the car horn] reverberated in the night.  We both smiled at the hilarious predicament we found ourselves in. [Staff: Tim’s date smiled for sure – realizing this horrible night might be rapidly coming to an end.]

Suddenly, a light went on in Barbara’s house. Her father came down to warmly greet us. We all had a good laugh about the car and its blaring horn [staff: and by “good laugh” Tim means her annoyed father ordered Tim to stop all the ruckus, leave the car there and come back to retrieve it with a tow truck the next morning. And Tim had better have it gone by 7am because it was blocking his car in the garage.] Such a delightful man he was.

So our evening ended sooner than we both had hoped. But I’m pretty sure the series of all-night after-ball parties were lame, involving little more than free-flowing alcohol, unbridled sexual promiscuity and zesty cheese nachos.

This Romeo reluctantly bid adieu to his fair Juliet. As the downpour picked up, I kissed her gently on her trembling lips, [staff: they were trembling with fear that he’d go for some tongue action], and I turned to walk away. I saw tears streaming down her sad, disappointed face. [Staff: those weren’t tears. She was getting soaked from the rain.] This soldier gallantly marched off into the night like in a Hollywood love story. [Staff: Our soldier sheepishly shuffled home, drenched in his dress uniform, walking two miles in the deluge.]

This may surprise you, but Barbara and I never went out again after that evening. I knew that no encore performance of our romantic affair could possibly live up to this fairy tale evening. For me it will always be A Night to Remember [staff: like the night the Titanic sank]. And besides, I even got to first base.

That’s the view from the bleachers. Perhaps I’m off base.

© Tim Jones, View from the Bleachers 2012

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