But then? No way. Not smiling. Take the damn picture and let's move on.
I was deeply, deeply insecure about how I looked. How I smiled. How much money we didn't have. Who I was. And those things added to prom being a really lousy time. Let me backup...
I did not go to prom until senior year. We didn't have a lot of money and the costs involved were not something I was willing to ask my parents for so I convinced myself that it would be more special if I just went senior year. I did that a lot during that time of my life. Convinced myself that I really didn't want something anyway. We didn't have the money for me to go on student trips. Who would want to do that anyway? Being locked in to only seeing what someone else thought important? What a drag. We didn't have the money for me to buy the uniforms necessary for choir, or band, or drill team or...so who would want to do that sort of thing? I'm not really a joiner anyway, and they all needed so much extra time. Drama? All donations? Cool. That's a much better outlet for my particular creative talents anyway.
I'm not saying it was a bad coping method, in fact I think it helped me not resent being broke as much, but it was totally a coping method. And prom fell right into that pattern. Freshman year I was asked to prom by an older boy, in a dramatic fashion (for the day, now people do crazy things to ask people to prom) but I turned him down. One, I thought he was asking me out as some sort of joke. We didn't really know each other except for passing nods in the hallway and so why would he ask me out? (crippling self esteem issues here in play) I was just a dumpy little freshman and he was a popular older jock so it had to be a set up of some sort. But mainly I couldn't afford the dress. I knew I couldn't afford the dress so there was no way I would say yes.
Sophomore year I was asked again and again said no. I was only going to go senior year. It just wasn't happening, but thank you anyway.
Junior year the boy that asked realized that part of why I said no to everyone was I couldn't afford it. He offered to buy me a dress. And a coat. And get a limo. And I looked at that and said, Hell no. That's a debt I am not willing to pay off at the end of the night, and it's one that would be expected to be paid. We talk about our teenagers as if they are young innocents, and they are, up to a point. But they are not nearly as innocent as we try to pretend they are. We weren't. Why do we expect them to be?
So anyway, Senior Year! This is THE prom! And it couldn't be better, I found a beautiful dress, I'm going with my fiance. I'm wearing the shoes and the jewelry I will be wearing again in 7 months at our wedding. It was going to be great. I'd waited all four years for this one perfect shimmering night.
There was no way it was going to live up to the hype.
So a few weeks before prom hits my best friend and her boyfriend break up. He's already got the tickets so asks someone else. She's like hell no, I'm not staying home while he goes to prom I'm getting a sexy dress and going stag! And she did get a great dress. I was actually kind of bummed when I went with her that I went with the ballgown dress when there was a form fitting mermaid dress that was cheaper and so va va voom I could have gotten. But, I digress...
So she is going to ride with us. We will pick her up and go to dinner with her and four other friends. We are all dressed up acting like adults at dinner. Feeling very mature. When I hear someone yelling through the restaurant, "SQUIRREL! SQUIRREL YOU FORGOT SOMETHING!" It was my brother. I had forgotten my wrap that went with my dress and so my brother, being nice, brought it to me, and my brother, being an older brother, decided the best way to get it to me was to embarrass me in the process. Yay...So I'm feeling like I really don't belong in a fancy dress in a fancy restaurant acting like a grown up and we haven't even gotten started. (crippling self esteem remember) But I bluffed it off, went outside for a cigarette and composed myself. Really, it's not terrible. Only embarrassing.
So we get to prom. Walk in the door. My friend sees her ex slow dancing with the new chick realizes this was a horrible mistake spins on her heel and goes outside to wait by the car for the rest of the night.
Brent and I did a quick walk through of the place. Nobody says anything to me. People are glaring at us. And I'm thinking, "She didn't even make a scene she just walked out, what is your major malfunction?" But I also can't get over thinking that she's just outside waiting at the car to go home. And what sort of friend would I be to let her?
So we left. We took her home. We spent maybe a half hour at prom. I don't think we even danced a single dance.
After calming her down and getting her settled in for the night we went to Village Inn. Just the two of us, me apologizing for ruining the night. Him being him and letting it all slide off his back. Then this little old couple came over and told us how we reminded them of them at our age and how they could tell we were a really good couple. Which was incredibly sweet.
Then we went home and Brent spent a half hour getting the pins out of my hair and brushing it all out so it wouldn't be a rat's nest in the morning. And we laughed about how lousy of a time prom was and how glad we were to be home together anyway.
And that to me is what makes my lousy prom story actually a good one.
We had a lousy time together then went home and brushed it all off.
It was a good lesson for a life together. Now, don't get me wrong, we've actually had it pretty easy. We've had some lousy times, every couple does. We've had some really stressful experiences. We've had heartbreaking times. But we are home together brushing it off. And that's where we prefer to be anyway.
Also, the reason people were glaring? Monday morning at school I had people come to tell me all about how Brent took someone else to prom. The hair and makeup was like a superhero disguise I guess. It made me laugh and shake my head. One that they would think Brent would take someone else, first off we were engaged, secondly we lived together so how was he going to get out of our house and to prom without me noticing, and then that they ratted him out to me, but didn't confront him that night. It just added a funny twist to the whole story.
So we had a lousy senior prom, but a funny story to share later. We (I) learned to not put pressure on certain dates to fill outsized expectations, which actually led to us not celebrating most holidays in a big fashion. Which is so much more relaxing and chill for us. It's perfect. And our lack of a formal at prom official photo led us to start doing this when given the opportunity for a couple's photo:
Which makes me laugh every time! So really, it all worked out for the best.