The joy, the pain, the triumph, the heartbreak: the Prom.
Remember the crepe paper? How about the synthetic rustle of yards and yards of pastel taffeta? Let Elissa Stein and Daniel Mailliard take you back to a time you may not want to remember, but one you could never forget. It's high time one of America's most widespread of adolescent social rituals got the literary treatment: in this book is a no-holds-barred collection of stories that reminds us only too vividly of the most important, angst-filled, and (potentially) romantic evening of our young lives. Not just a collection of personal testimonials, Tales from the Prom also tackles proms in the news, prom fashions, proms in the movies--in short, everything the uninitiated needs to know, and everything the prom survivor wants to reminisce about. So don't miss out on Tales from the Prom--it's cheaper than a limo rental and not nearly as messy as a vomit-splattered tuxedo!
|Publisher:||St. Martin's Publishing Group|
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About the Author
Elissa Stein is a graphic designer, illustrator, and writer. She is the co-author of Chunks: A Barfology. Daniel Mailliard has had several short stories published and is currently working on a novel and a screenplay. They both live in New York City.
Elissa Stein’s publishing projects include NYC adventures with kids, interactive thank you notes, and visual histories of iconic pop culture—two of which were featured in Entertainment Weekly’s Must Have list. In addition to writing, she runs her own graphic design business. She lives in the West Village with her husband Jon and their children, Izzy and Jack. She is the coauthor of such titles as Awfully Wedded, Tales from the Prom, and Chunks: A Barfology.
Daniel Mailliard is the coauthor, with Elissa Stein, of Awfully Wedded and Tales From the Prom. Daniel has had several short stories published, and currently works as an advertising copywriter. He lives in New York.
Read an Excerpt
Tales from the Prom
By Elissa Stein, Daniel Mailliard
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 1998 Elissa Stein and Daniel Mailliard
All rights reserved.
IN THE MOVIES
It is amazing that, in a small midwestern town that has never hosted a formal dance, all the seniors at the local high school show up in very stylish (albeit '80s style) tuxedos and ball gowns.
But that just goes to show the perseverance of these kids. To have a prom, they not only had to fight a right-wing minister with more power than the biggest tractor in town — dancing was forbidden in this neck of the woods — they had to move hundreds of piles of seeds in a dilapidated factory to uncover a dance floor. If this weren't enough, they had to fight a gauntlet of local bullies just to get inside the building.
Their reward for all this effort is the big dance scene, choreographed to the Kenny Loggins hit Footloose. An endless rain of glitter makes all their pictures look fabulous. Somehow the glitter never piles up on the floor long enough to stop their dance marathon.
Except for the fight against the church, the manual labor, the local bullies, the dated fashion, and the Kenny Loggins song, it was a dream prom to remember.
THEME: DON'T BE CRUEL, ELVIS PRESLEY
About a month before the prom, I broke up with my long-term boyfriend. I had a crush on this younger guy named Tyler, so I asked him. When he picked me up at my house, I noticed the touch of his hand was scaly and dry. I was totally turned off and started calling him Rep-Tyler. The nickname stuck and everyone in our party began referring to him as that. My prince charming had turned into a frog — a dry, scaly frog. I drowned my sorrow with numerous glasses of champagne and vodka Jello shots.
In no time I was hammered. I can't really remember much about the prom but the after-party was a riot. I don't really remember that too well either, firsthand, but I have seen the video tape: after ripping my dress while wrestling, I chased the owner of the house's dog around chanting "He'll be mine tonight!"
The running around made me dizzy and sick. I threw up in the bathroom, while my ex-boyfriend held my hair. Rep-Tyler was nowhere to be found.
IN THE NEWS
ROLLING ON THE RIVER
In April 1997, the Red River flooded most of Grand Forks, North Dakota, including the two local high schools. As the recovery got under way and the damage to the schools was assessed, it seemed unlikely that the senior classes would ever be together again, let alone have their proms.
But like the waters of April, a flood of good will deluged Grand Forks. Jessica McClintock, a San Francisco prom-dress designer, donated 350 dresses; a formal-wear company from Minneapolis lent 250 tuxes; and the Air Force offered the use of an airplane hanger, which the officers' wives even decorated.
If the good will alone wasn't enough to get the seniors in the mood to dance their troubles away, the band Soul Asylum, from neighboring Minnesota, was. The band agreed to play their first prom ever — played it for free, in tuxes, and even learned some of the kids' favorite songs.
THEME: DON'T YOU WANT ME, JODY WHATLEY
I had had my eye on Wendy for a long time. We were just friends, but I was hoping it would become something more.
I don't quite remember how the prom thing worked out — as I remember, my date got the chicken pox and Wendy's date had to leave town. Things just fell into place, and we ended up going to the prom together.
As soon as I picked her up in the limo, I could tell she wasn't really into it. I started drinking while she stared out the window, not paying attention to a word I said.
We split up as soon as we got to the prom. She danced and talked and drank with her friends, and I did the same with mine, across the room.
After the prom we went to a party at her friend's house — we drank in silence the whole way there. About thirty seconds away from the party, she turned green, looked over at me (for the first time that evening), and showed me exactly how dissatisfied she was with my company.
I'll spare you the contents of her stomach, but man, that girl could eat. The wreckage of my tuxedo was proof that she not only ate her dinner, but probably everyone else's at her table.
We drove straight to her house. She washed her face, brushed her teeth, and gargled while I tried to clean my tux. We got back in the limo and sped to the party. About ten minutes after we got there, she left with my best friend.
It must have been her clean, fresh breath
THEME: A WHITER SHADE OF PALE, PROCOL HAREM
Nothing meant more to me during my senior year than the prom. I spent at least four months dragging my poor mother around from store to store searching for the perfect dress, hating with a passion every sweet little pink number I tried on. I finally found a red strapless number that didn't look half bad and I was ready to go.
Three days before the sacred event, I came down with a raging sore throat. I went to the doctor's office but before she did any tests she said, "Alison, I've seen this enough times to know the diagnosis right now. You've got mono. Besides the sore throat, there's always a distinct odor that indicates it. Now, I know your prom's coming up and I will allow you to attend, but because your spleen is so swollen, no dancing, drinking, smoking, or kissing." "Okay, just shoot me now," I thought. I didn't know which was worse, the fact that my prom night was now in the toilet or the fact that I was emitting a "distinct odor."
Prom day arrived and I was anxious, terrorized, and totally ill. Overnight I had developed some sort of eye infection, so in addition to my fatigue and painful throat, I had this gross ooze seeping out of my eye. Yet I was determined to have a romantic, amazing night and I was sure my date would realize that I was the one for him. I didn't breathe a word about my mono to anyone.
About an hour before Chuck was supposed to arrive (he was driving an hour and a half from Albany), the doorbell rang. There on the front steps was his ex-girlfriend, Sandy. She had heard he was driving into town and wanted to see him. My grandmother, who answered the door, was so flabbergasted that she told her to go wait in her car. Chuck came soon after and spent at least forty-five minutes outside reminiscing with Sandy, while I seethed inside. The fun was just starting.
We arrived late. Dinner was forgettable and I couldn't partake of any of the smuggled-in alcohol. My sore throat wasn't too bad, but I had to keep running to the bathroom to wipe the gunk out of my eye. Chuck disappeared early on, so I sat at the table, alone, drinking Coke and trying to stay awake. Finally, the band announced that the prom theme song would be played next and everyone should head out on the dance floor. I found Chuck, but he was drunk off his ass with his tongue down another girl's throat. I could have (should have) cried and gone home, but instead I spent the remainder of the evening licking his utensils and glass, hoping to infect him with a mean case of mono.
The next day, the Our Lady of Lourdes class of 1987 headed down for a fun-filled day frolicking at Great Adventure in New Jersey. My mom didn't wake me in time, so I missed the bus. Instead I spent the day watching The Graduate and praying that college would be kinder to me.CHAPTER 2
IN THE MOVIES
THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
Like, it's the final dance of senior year, not counting the semiformal, the formal, and the prom, but it's a dance nonetheless and a good reason to go shopping at the mall.
All the seniors have to be invited — the geeks, the jocks, the cheerleaders, and even those who have become vampires.
Buffy arrives dateless but dangerous in a long, white halter-top dress with a flounced Cinderella skirt, her hair slicked tightly back in an Eva Peron–Grace Kelly bun.
Just as the dancing starts, the vampires strike. Buffy, ripping off the bottom off her gown, is ready to wage battle in her valance-driven minidress and black combat boots. What was she thinking when she got dressed that night?
Luke Perry, sober for the first time in the movie, shows up without a corsage for Buffy, a prom faux pas. Instead he has brought her a basket of hand-made wooden stakes — actually a far more thoughtful gift for the occasion. They gaze into each other's eyes, and Luke, ever fashion-conscious, tosses her his black motorcycle jacket to complete her prom–vampire-stabbing ensemble.
Buffy then slays an entire legion of vampires (hence the title of the movie), including an overly dramatic Pee-Wee Herman, whose death scene lasts past the final credits.
Buffy and Luke drive off into the night, leaving Liz Smith to report on the chaos and damage and the future of Luke Perry's movie career.
The best line in the movie: "Does the word Duh mean anything to you?"
THEME: I'M HOT FOR THE TEACHER
Nothing much happened at my prom.
Wait. I made out with my social studies teacher all night. We went around the corner, in an alcove, by some lockers.
He was really hot. Does that count?
THEME: LITTLE RED CORVETTE, PRINCE
She was in ivory lace head to toe, and the hoop she wore under her dress was huge. She wore a hat with a row of flowers, and there were even more flowers scattered across her dress. To be cool, I borrowed my sister's boyfriend's little, little red Corvette. After an assault of pictures at her house, I spent forty-five minutes trying to fit my date's hoop and hat into the small sports car. The dress was everywhere. I could barely see out the window or find the stick shift.
That night I wasn't just lucky to be attending the prom, I was lucky to get there alive.
IN THE NEWS
CAN I SEE YOUR I.D.?
In June of 1988, the kids at Mount Clemens High School in Mount Clemens, Michigan, gave new meaning to the term junior–senior prom when they invited one-hundred-seventy-five of the city's elderly to join them for the festivities.
The evening included limo rides for the special guests, corsages for the ladies, a buffet dinner, big band music, and dancing until 10:30 at night.
While no "love connections" between the generations were reported, both junior and senior party-goers were surprised at how much fun they had with each other.CHAPTER 3
IN THE MOVIES
ROMY AND MICHELE'S HIGH SCHOOL REUNION
Picture this: two loser girls who don't know they're losers go to their high school prom together, one dressed as Madonna from the Holiday album, the other dressed as Madonna from her Blonde Ambition tour.
Ah, but you see, the joke's on them. Romy, who has had a crush on the high school jock for the past ten years, finally works up the courage to ask him to dance. He says yes, and then rides off with his cheerleader girlfriend, leaving Romy waiting in vain for hours, with best friend Michele waiting right by her side.
When they finally figure out that he's not coming, they dance together to Cindy Lauper's "Time after Time" and thus end their high school career.
Unfortunately, the movie's just beginning. Ten years later, the couple, who isn't really a "couple" couple (but who are willing to try lesbianism if they're not married by the time they're thirty) decide to go back to their high school reunion and relive the memories. But this time, the joke's on everyone else.
In a hard-to-imagine-someone-filmed-this scene, and its even more outrageous outfits, Romy and Michele teach the class (through interpretive dance) a little about what it means to be yourself.
The moral of the story ... dance with the most successful person at your class reunion, and he'll buy you a store on Rodeo drive.
THEME: I WILL SURVIVE, GLORIA GAYNOR
Mindy was the cutest girl who'd ever said she'd go out with me, and she'd agreed to go to the most public of public places — the prom. I prepared for weeks, down to making sure my cummerbund, bow tie, and flowers were the exact same blue as her dress. I couldn't wait.
As I was leaving to pick Mindy up, she called and told me not to bother. Her mom had said she was too sick to go. I knew for a fact her mother was out of town and realized that Mindy was blowing me off. I tried, but nothing I said would change her mind.
Well, I'd already paid for a tux, flowers, dinner reservations, a hotel room, and tickets to the prom — it would have been fiscally irresponsible of me not to go. I just needed a date and thought of Janine — my best friend since grade school. Where would she be at five o'clock on Saturday night? I thought of St. Margaret Mary's church and, in my tux, went from pew to pew until I found her with her entire family. I explained my dilemma, and she agreed to help me out. Janine's prom wasn't until the next week, so while her dad hightailed it over to Suzy's Casuals to pick up her dress, the rest of her family went home to get Janine ready.
Because Janine was running late, she missed the official photos — my prom picture ended up being of a friend, his date, myself, and a blank space. We rushed back to pick up Janine, now ready in her pink dress, and proceeded to dinner, where everyone had started eating without us. At this point, my best friend Dan, who had broken up with Janine only weeks before, found out that she was my date and threatened to throw his steak knife at me. We had a huge fight in the bathroom — he said that if I were any kind of a friend, I would have stayed home alone. Now I was ruining his evening as well.
In an uncomfortable silence, we all went to the prom, which was held in our high school gym. I don't remember anything from the dance. (Perhaps years of therapy will help me recapture the memory.) We ended up at a friend's house — Janine started making out with another guy, leaving his date and me together. We hated each other — she bit me once. Needless to say, we weren't going to spend the evening together. She left, in tears, with Dan's date. This left Dan and me. We weren't talking to each other, but at least we were drinking together. After a couple rounds, we left the party to "turf" Mindy's lawn. In my four-wheel-drive truck, we plowed into her front yard and peeled off the top layer of soil, ran over a couple of bushes, and knocked down a newly planted tree.
We went to the carwash in our tuxes, scrubbed everything clean, and crashed at Janine's house, who spent the whole night making out with her new boyfriend.
The next Monday, I had play rehearsal. We were doing Brigadoon. I was Charles Dallrimple and I had to kiss Bonnie Jean after our big wedding scene. Who do you think played Bonnie Jean? Mindy, the girl who stood me up.
IN THE NEWS
In 1989, scorned prom date Tomontra Mangrum sued seventeen-year-old Marlon Shadd for damages when he stood her up for the prom.
Shadd claimed he told Mangrum five days before the prom that he couldn't go because of an ankle injury, but she paints an entirely different picture — perhaps one that matches her dyed satin shoes.
Those shoes, a hairstyling session, and a sprig of baby's breath for her hair — a total of $49.53 — weren't the only reason the fifteen-year-old sued. She's said she was fighting it out in court to teach the "heartless" Shadd a lesson.
THEME: CRAZY, PATSY KLINE
It wasn't actually my prom, it was my date's. He was a senior and I was a sophomore. He was also my brother's best friend.
We had been dating for a while, and all was going well, but about a week before the prom, I was suddenly no longer attracted to him. My feeling of disdain grew through the week until I could hardly stand to look at him.
Then, the day before the prom, in a PMS-induced fit, I told my date that we could go to the prom as "friends" but that I didn't want to go out with him anymore. He was really hurt, and my family thought I was both cruel and insane. We went to the prom, just as friends, which was boring and uneventful.
The next week, I got my period and everything seemed to go back to normal. I called my date and told him that I wanted to start dating again. He thought I was crazy and wanted nothing more to do with me.
Just a Midol or two might have avoided the whole mess.CHAPTER 4
IN THE MOVIES
What can we say about Carrie? Not only could she make things move just by thinking about them, she made her own prom dress (pale pink satin with nothing underneath).
Asked by the most popular boy in school (William Katt, who later went on to become The Greatest American Hero), Carrie had only one week to learn how to apply makeup, slow dance, and get rid of those nasty brown roots.
She did, and what a beauty she turned out to be. It was a magical night of firsts for Carrie: her first date, her first dance, her first kiss, and her first mass murder.
Excerpted from Tales from the Prom by Elissa Stein, Daniel Mailliard. Copyright © 1998 Elissa Stein and Daniel Mailliard. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
In the Movies: Footloose,
In the News: Rolling on the River,
In the Movies: Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
In the News: Can I See Your I.D.?,
In the Movies: Romy and Michele's High School Reunion,
In the News: Legal Aid,
In the Movies: Carrie,
In the Movies: Prom Night,
In the News: The End of an Era,
In the Movies: Back to the Future,
In the Movies: It's a Wonderful Life,
In the News: Lucky 13,
In the Movies: Peggy Sue Got Married,
In the Movies: Just One of the Guys,
In the Movies: Pretty in Pink,