notquiteold

Nancy Roman

The Junior Prom

My high school sweetheart died last week.

Sweetheart is the perfect way to describe Greg. He was sweet and all heart.

The suddenness of his passing (a heart attack) left everyone who knew him with a hole in their lives that they were unprepared to accept.

Less than a year ago, my graduating class attended our 50th high school reunion. Greg had taken the lead in organizing the event, and as emcee, we all could see that he was still as sweet and gentle as he was fifty years before.

Greg was a Spanish teacher – who decided to become a teacher at the age of fifty. From the outpouring of love from his students on his social media page, he was as beloved as a teacher as he was as a classmate.

Back in the 60s, I was a self-conscious and insecure teenager. (I know, I know… like most teenage girls.) I had dated a little, but was hardly sought-after. So at 17, Greg was one of my first boyfriends. He was kind of an accidental boyfriend. I started out not very interested. I had a crush on another boy. I tried my best to let John, my crush, know I liked him. But looking back, I have no idea whether I was obvious and he was oblivious, whether he just didn’t like me, or whether I was a complete failure at flirting.

But in the meantime, there was Greg.

A group of kids from my church went on some kind of hayride – my memory must be failing me because it was Spring, not Autumn, but that’s what I remember – and sitting on the hay on the truck, Greg asked me to the Junior Prom. I didn’t want to say yes. I wanted to wait to see if John would ask me. But I am nothing if not practical.  And there were multiple practical reasons to say yes:

  1. His cousin was dating my best friend, Karen.  
  2. If I said no, and John (or anybody else) did not ask me, I would be sitting home instead of wearing a beautiful gown and white gloves.
  3. If I said no, and then John did ask me, I would feel awful anyway, because it would just be mean of me. I couldn’t see myself turning down a nice boy and then saying yes to someone else. That would hurt Greg’s feelings. And it didn’t seem fair.
  4. I didn’t know how to say no.
  5. Greg was nice. Really nice. Maybe I could like him.

So I said yes.

My oldest sister was getting married in a month, and my parents had already spent a fortune on the wedding. So although my mother offered to buy me a new prom dress, I just didn’t feel I could add to their expense. But my sister had a bridesmaid’s dress from my cousin’s wedding a few years before. It was a bit short, but it was pretty, a light green overlaid with gorgeous white lace. I decided to wear it.

My short Twiggy hair was all wrong for a formal dress. so I went to a salon to see if they could dress it up. It was a horrible mistake. I came home in tears – as ‘bouffanted’ as a backup singer for the Shangri-Las. Mom managed to tame it down somewhat, so that I looked like the white girl version of Diana Ross.

I told myself it didn’t matter. But I felt bad. It was my Junior Prom. I wanted to be beautiful. I didn’t even like Greg that much, but it seemed rude not to look nicer for him.

We double-dated with my best friend and Greg’s cousin. To go to my first formal dance with a nice boy and my best friend took all the anxiety out of the event.

We ate in a fancy restaurant, feeling very grownup. We complimented our friends about how beautiful we all looked. We danced every dance in our fancy clothes in the high school gym. I forgot about my too-short dress and my terrible hair.

We were both sweet, innocent kids and kissed a sweet, innocent kiss at the end of the evening.

We had wonderful time.

There was no great romance. Greg and I dated for a few more months, but just gradually fizzled out. We stayed friends for fifty years, and that certainly means that Greg was the perfect date after all.

I have a new novel coming out before Christmas.  It’s set in 1969 and the main character is seventeen. She badly wants to go to the Junior Prom.  Her idea of a perfect date is based on her adored older sister’s experience. This is how she describes her sister’s Junior Prom:

    Jeannie was asked to the Junior Prom by this very ordinary guy, Walter Brooks. Walter had Buddy Holly glasses and he was about two inches shorter than Jeannie. She thought he was nice, though. They had been to the movies together twice and she said he was smart and kind. She told me that the Junior Prom is usually everyone’s first formal event, and that it was important to have a sweet memory of it for when you got old.

I’m old. I have a sweet memory.

23 Comments

  1. Such a lovely memory, Nancy. I’m so sorry about the loss of your friend.
    But remember, we’re not old…that’s still about 10 years out there:)

    Like

  2. Aw, such a sad loss, I’m sorry

    Like

  3. Wonderful, sweat story. Sorry for the loss of your friend.

    Like

  4. What a wonderful memory. Greg was lucky one, IMO.

    Like

  5. Ray G

    Yeah! You did sorta look like Diana.
    Not that she was hard on the eyes.
    Did I ever meet Greg? He almost looks familiar.

    Like

  6. lydiaschoch

    My condolences on your loss.

    Thank you for sharing your memories of your old friend.

    Like

  7. I love this. So glad you wrote it. Your hair looks contemporary.

    Like

  8. Wish there was an option to LOVE this post… My condolences in the loss of your long-time friend. Such a sweet photo of you two.

    Like

  9. I’m very sorry. He does sound like a sweet man.

    Like

  10. Your story has touched me. I feel your loss. And now I am wondering what happened to my one time date…as I too have a very similar story of going to the prom with a guy that was sweet but not the one I really had hoped to go with. Thanks for the trip down memory lane.

    Like

  11. Paula

    Your hair looked fine for the era–I’d have never had the skill to get mine to do that! And the dress is adorable. I’m so sorry for your friend’s death, but glad you have these memories. I’ve long since lost touch with my junior prom date, but I’ve always wondered ….

    Like

  12. Such a sweet story. It made me smile that you have this memory.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Such a sweet story.

    Like

  14. Aw, that last line choked me up, Nancy. Beautifully done.

    Like

  15. Wwe don’t have things like proms we do have a yr 10 or yr 12 formals but not when IB
    was at school . I married my first boyfriend,

    Like

  16. dragon

    Sweet memory. Condolences on the loss. I got to pay for my Jr. Prom and not go … the strangeness of attending an all girl’s HS in the late 60s that wasn’t religious. Glad you have some lovely memories and that you now have a character to work with on an equally interesting scenario. Best of luck.

    Like

  17. I’m sorry for your loss and for all that knew this sweet man. How wonderful to be remembered so fondly by so many. That’s all anyone can wish for.

    Like

  18. Silvana Dereski

    My sincere condolences on the loss of your dear friend. Thank you for sharing the sweet memory of him. Saying “yes” was so right.

    Like

  19. a very sweet story for a truly sweet man. So sorry for his passing. And you were beautiful!
    MJ

    Like

  20. What a beautiful post! And I’m so sorry for the loss of your long-time friend. I’m so glad you went to the prom with him…

    Like

  21. I’m sorry for your loss and for all that knew this sweet man. How wonderful to be remembered so fondly by so many. That’s all anyone can wish for.

    Like

  22. Donna

    Hi Nancy, your description of your “hair do” when you returned from the beauty parlor made me laugh out loud. You have such a talent for descriptive writing. I can always see it, feel it, and I’m always right there. I love the picture, so sweet and innocent. I’m so glad you have a new book coming out soon. I can’t wait to get lost in it. Miss you, Love Donna

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: