Wednesday, May 09, 2012

The Prom Garter

I knew I wanted to ask him to be my date to the Junior prom when he came to our creative writing class one day dressed as Pan.  Pants made of fake fur, with a matching patch of fake fur tied to his chest, and a set of plastic goat horns atop his head.

I wish now I could remember what he was presenting that he found that appropriate attire, but a quirky sense of humor has long been my Achilles' heel, and Pan here clearly qualified in this getup.  Added bonus?  He had approximately 5 chin hairs which, as I'm sure you know, qualified in high school terms as a full-fledged goatee, and I thought that was quite dashing.  You may have noticed I have kind of a thing for facial hair.

Pan was a senior, and honestly I knew extremely little about him other than he was pretty much #1 in line to take away the class clown superlative for his graduating class.  And I knew his name (Which for our purposes is just going to be Pan here.).  So, in my head, I knew enough.

I didn't think any of my prom planning through real thoroughly.  I knew I wanted to go, and I knew for that I needed a (1) date and a  (2) dress.  Sadly, I knew it was too close to the actual event for me to hold out hope that someone was going to ask me - all my friends had already paired up with other friends or significant others.  Popularity and I never saw quite eye to eye.  You understand.  

Anyway.  I was on my own for this one.  So, with the confidence only a insanely naive teenage girl can possibly possess, I found him sitting at a table in the caf during the Snowball dance, and I asked him to prom, all in one word.  He and his friends all looked a little shocked.  I figured this was probably because we had literally never said two words to each other and shared no common friend circles.  But wouldn't you know it, he agreed.  My brain hissed at me to be polite enough to thank him and say good bye, but then I turned tail and almost ran back into the gymnasium.  It all took about 30 seconds, and I thought my heart was going to hammer through my rib cage.  A sight which of course would have been only slightly more mortifying than my barrel-roll bangs, entirely polyester purple button down shirt and accompanying purple floor length skirt, and of course, braces with matching little purple bands.  (How did the boys resist all that sexy?)

Turns out the shocked faces at the table were probably due to the fact that the girl sitting at the table was his girlfriend at the time.  I didn't know.  I didn't even know who she was, and no one told me her role in all this until well after this string of events.  Still, I was a totally unknowing home[room]-wrecker.  To be fair, she probably looked much prettier than I drew her, I don't remember much of the actual situation other than "HOLY CRAP HE SAID YES."  She was probably thinking the same thing.  

Leading up to the prom, we chatted approximately 3 times over AOL instant messaging.  In one of them Pan asked me what color my dress was, he needed to know so his tux would match.  I'd never done this formal dance thing before, so I was instantly thankful that the delay of IMs let me play a cool "oh, of course, I was totally aware you would be requiring this information."  And then I giddily explained that my dress was a spring-green shade.

Back in the day, prom meant you bought a big poofy princess gown that was floor length and some pastel hue, and you didn't hang out your lady bits for the world to see.  LESS IS MORE, you hoochie current day prom goers.  *ahem* It's my blog, I type what I want.  Moving on, the more interesting tidbit here is that I had gone with a friend to the mall to pick out our dresses, and we were both elated to find that you could buy a dress at Maurice's for a mere TWENTY-FIVE DOLLARS!  Which meant I could avoid an embarrassing trip into the public with my *gasp* mother, because I could totally afford 25 big ones without dipping into parental pocketbooks.

Looking back, I'm pretty sure the few hours I would have spent being all indignant and bratty about being at the mall with my mother would have spared me from getting a dress that was at least 4 inches too short for me.  It was that perfect awkward length that clearly stated "no one helped me buy this!" Plus again, it was Spring Green, which in and of itself is just a poor color choice for my complexion.  Regrets, I has them.

Know what happens when you put two people outfitted in "Spring Green" next to each other?  Pretty much all of your pictures where there is sunlight make you both look like you're radioactive.  Even more unfortunate if you pair that with a date who rocked a top hat, pants that matched my dress in terms of too-short, a cane, and hiking boots.  In short, we were a gorgeous pair.  (I'm sorry I can't even type that without laughing.)  Thankfully, my parent-phobia also lead to me refusing to let them take any pictures of me and Pan.  I said we would get plenty of pics at the prom, and almost pushed him out the door to escape.  Did we get any pictures at the prom?  Not a one.  So at least there is little to no photographic evidence of this ensemble.

Pan had come to pick me up in his van.  He rang the doorbell like a gentleman and when I let him in the house he said something to the approximation of "Damn, you look F***ing Hot!"  Thank you mom for A) pretending not to hear that and B) not making a scene in front of my date.

Shortly thereafter we were on our way to the "night of a lifetime!," back in that aforementioned van, which had a cassingle of They Might Be Giants' "Particle Man"* stuck on repeat in the tape-deck.  A van which had a passenger side door that sometimes worked like a door, sometimes didn't, and at least once during the evening required me to leap in through the window instead.  Classy?  Oh yeah, you betcha.

I have to take a second to state that I now know almost all of this evening's unforgettable strangeness was my fault.  You ask a class clown to the prom and you're going to get a weird evening.  Unfortunately, at the time, I worked at the movie store as a video clerk, so I had this perfect image of the evening in my head, where I was played by Rachel Leigh Cook, except with bangs.  Because I thought those were working for me.  So by the third time Particle Man started playing over the van stereo, I was getting a little concerned.

A concern that grew throughout the evening, particularly during the Grand March (where each couple is announced and is expected to walk around in a little circle... which seems dumber and dumber the more I think about it) when he whispered to me just before our turn: "Wouldn't it be hilarious if I tripped you?  What would you do?"

I believe my horrified response was "I will kick you so hard you will go back in time to earlier this evening and have to get kicked all over again."  (Seriously?  I really said that?  I was a horrible bitch.)

I also believe it was around the time I physically threatened Pan that our communication kind of... broke down for the evening.  I coped by dancing with my friends.  Pan coped by dancing with a sock puppet.

Re-read it.  I know I'm funny, but there is no way I could have made that up, come on now.

One of Pan's equally eccentric friends had also come to the prom, and instead of a date, had put a sock on his hand and gone with that.  Around the time someone pointed out to me that I was sitting out of a slow dance because my date was dancing with an old gym sock, I was pretty done with prom.

Once the song was over, we got back in the van and I asked him to drop me at the school-sponsored "after-party."  I didn't invite him to come WITH me to that party, because he had jilted me for a sock, and as previously concluded, I was akin with a female dog, who also happened to hold grudges like woah.  Either way, he seemed more than happy to be rid of me at that point, so he dropped me off.  But before I climbed back out of the van, I did what I believe was my duty as a girl at the prom:

I reached under my dress, pulled off my garter, and handed it to him.  
"Here."  I said, with no additional pomp or circumstance.  

Really truly, I was naive enough to believe that this was exactly how every boy "earned" their prom date's garter.  My parents are probably reading this with a sigh of relief.  Sheltered, party of one.  In any case, he was so confused at this exchange that he silently took it from me and left.  And that, my friends, was my prom.

It was also the last time I ever exchanged words with Pan.  I was socially awkward, and he probably felt cheated in the expectations boys are lead to have about prom night.  That's what you get for taking a girl to prom who isn't your girlfriend.   Just kidding, I have no idea where he's at in life by now, but back then he was a nice (albeit quirky) guy who took a semi-loser to her prom.  And let's be real, I'm all about an interesting story.  Which he more than delivered on.

I tell this whole story for one great tie in:  That damned garter.

I've been looking a lot at garters lately, for ideas toward the perfect little ring of lace and elastic to go under my wedding dress, and it continually reminds me of that absolutely baffled look on Pan's face when I handed over the last garter I wore.  I'd like to, you know, get it right this time.

Fiance and I are all about the bouquet and garter toss at our reception, but if I'm going to put in as much work as I'd like to on making this garter (and I do have a plan), I kind of dislike the idea of just flinging it away into a crowd.  And then I saw some online forum on the topic which stated: "no worries, just wear two!"

I guess that's a good solution, but what does that look like?  Would Fiance just take the one off?  Or would he take them both off at the same time and fling the secondary garter while keeping the other?

If you have experience in this from a wedding, I'm honestly asking here.  I wrote this whole post about my ridiculous prom just to ask this question about garter toss etiquette.  So take a second and hit me back with your opinions/ thoughts in the comments.  Thanks!

*Mad props to Tiny Toon Adventures for introducing me to TMBG back in the day.  I might not have liked it on repeat that particular night, but that group is too fun not to enjoy occasionally.


Jill said...

I had two. But, if you recall, my mother in law made them and they were hidiously ugly. Also-- remember the awkward part where she wanted to put it on me? Um yeah.. But i digress. Anyway, I had two. One we threw, one is still sitting in our house in a box of wedding stuff. In the end, Roy didn't really need one. He got the bigger prize. And let's be honest-- a wife riding in your car is way cooler and significantly less cheesy than a garter around your rearview. Just my two cents...

Deanna said...

I have never understood the whole garter thing. I didn't wear one to prom because I was sure that it would be terribly uncomfortable. Based upon your prom experience - are they? I want to do the bouquet/garter toss at the wedding too but am still on fence as to whether or not I'll actually wear said garter(s). I'm half tempted to pin it to the underside of my dress.

Anyway... don't garters normally come in a set if you were to purchase them in a store?

Every store I've seen them in has sets with a "nice" one for you to keep and a much smaller, more simply designed "toss" garter. (Similar concept to real bouquet and a toss bouquet, I guess.)

I vote make the real one that you want and then just buy a little white toss garter to go with it :)

Rikki said...

How do I not remember this story?! Wasn't this like the time in high school where you were just about my only friend? This is even more awkward than my two prom experiences - the first where I had to tell my then bestfriend / date two weeks before prom that I had a boyfriend so he's have to find someone new and one where I went with my aforementioned then ex-boyfriend's best friend. Oh good old AHS. I never want to go back...

Kp said...

oh gosh Jill, I remember all of that crazy and more from that day (and that lady) so very well. Good point.

D - They're not uncomfortable if they fit right. I've worn garters for other silly reasons (a vegas themed college banquet, and halloween costumes), you eventually forget they're there. You could always slip into the bathroom and put it on right before the garter toss...

Rikki - I have no idea how you don't remember this. I would think a sock puppet slow dance would be ingrained in anyone's memory who saw it, but maybe thats just because it's literally seared into my traumatized teenage mind. And ditto - my class is face booking to plan our 10 year reunion in the fall, and I am all about not having a damn thing to do with that.

Kate Y said...

I had honestly never heard about the prom garter thing until JUST NOW. Is that really a thing? Wow! And, who is the sheltered one?

And, I was vehemently opposed to the garter toss, as you may recall. I just was not anywhere near comfortable with the idea of my new husband crawling up my dress at our wedding in front of friends, family, work colleagues, etc. Not at all.

But, I also refused to wear a veil, and many other "traditional" wedding things that go against my feminist ways (still changed my darned last name though... he got me there!)

So, unfortunately, friend, I can't offer you advice on how to handle this. But, good luck!

Kp said...

I dunno, I'm betting they aren't everywhere, but garters were totally the in thing to do at my prom. And I hear you on the garter toss at a wedding - it's not everyone's cup of tea. But particularly for northern european cultures, it's a sign of good luck, so I'm game.

Queen Holly the Magnificent said...

I almost died laughing. Dancing with a sock puppet. That is the best thing I have heard all day. As to the garter, just throw it. Besides the photos, I have idea where most of my wedding memorabilia is. And that stuff is not as important as time goes one anyway. What really matters is learning not murder your husband becasue being married means having someone to annoy the shit out of you that you cannot easily leave.

Jamie said...

So I'm totally going to have to write up the story of the first ever formal I went to, just because of the embarassment factor. I did a creative writing assignment on it in college, but that was around 2000, so even if we COULD find the disc it's on, it's not like I have a computer capable of reading that particular media any more.

But speaking of garters... at my own wedding (once upon a time I was an old married woman), we used the garter that my then-fiance had caught at my best friend's wedding 6 weeks earlier. It really made the rounds. Not sure if I had one to keep. You lose track of that stuff sometimes (you know, like when you're moving into separate places, haha...)