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My 1st Senior Prom (Bill Smith Photography)

Lenny La Rue, IPA

Sacramento, United States

Artist's Description

Now that you’ve stopped laughing at the picture, follow me back in time…


…I was a geeky guy, a nerd. I didn’t got to parties or out on dates. When mom came to me and said I was going to the senior prom, it was the first I’d heard of it. I was a junior and afraid to cross the Senior Lawn for fear of being pulled up the flagpole by one foot tied under the flag.
This is Margret and she asked me to go. Well, sorta asked me thru her mom to my mom to me. She was a lot smarter than I was, like my younger sister, but the same age. (My sister graduated early too: the same year I did. Put those two little factoids together and you get a lot of people wondering when I flunked a grade). Margret was graduating as a Junior and needed a date QUICK because things were happening a year sooner than she’d planned. I’d never gone out before so I guess my first date was a HUGE date. Not bad for a geek.
I got a long visit at the Sears Men’s department tuxedo rental and a longer (and completely unwanted) lesson on how to go on a date from a step-father I didn’t like. Everything from how to stand up, open doors without hitting either your date or yourself in the face, to walking holding hands. Can you say brutal? The worst part was how to order food for two in a restaurant (The Kiki Hut had some sort of island food I couldn’t pronounce and didn’t want but that was where I was going), how to handle money (“Here’s $40 and you can keep the change” wink-wink. Wink-wink what? Huh?), and how to ask her to dance (“Don’t try to do it, just do it”. Oooooook).
It was to be a double date because nobody thought I was gonna make it otherwise. Obviously, the other guy (Todd, I think) had been told I was helpless and hopeless because he excused “us” to go to the bathroom as soon as we got to the restaurant. I didn’t need to go but both our dates were looking like I needed to go and Todd insisted so I went.
More lessons, this time in a public toilet, in how to order by making your date think you wanted something that cost less than half the money you had. _What?
_ I think he gave up and just told me what to order so Margret would get the hidden message I didn’t get.
I survived dinner by successfully pushing enough of it around to look as tho I’d tasted it and liked it a lot. The four of us returned to our cars. Yeah, it was a double-date with double cars. Seems really weird 35 years later but everybody knew what was going on: I was to be carefully led thru this without screwing it up on my own. I never saw Todd or his date again. I’m not even sure if they went to my school.
The prom was in some strange place like a empty store in a mall. I remember the glass doors in the glass walls. I remember the band was called East Wind and a guy named David Kara-something Russian was playing a REAL Hammond B3 organ. He played so well I was jealous I wasn’t playing it instead of dancing next to it. I vaguely remember standing in a long line to get this photograph taken by Bill Smith Photography. That part was nice because I didn’t need to pretend to dance while I was waiting in a long line.
What I don’t remember was much after that. Somehow I lost the bow tie you see here in the bottom of the back seat of the car. That was news to me when my leering step-dad told me a year later that he found it only after he had to pay for it when returning the tux. I was still a virgin three years after this picture was taken. If my tie ended up back there, it fell out of the damned coat pocket when the tux was returned cuz I wasn’t in the back seat of the car.
In the passing years, I’ve lost my hair, gained bifocal glasses, lost that bizarre look on my face (I could swear the photographer had to physically move my parts into place to have my face and body look like this), gained a lot of weight, and lost my innocence. I even went on my 2nd date (the junior dance) and 3rd date (my own senior prom). Someone asked me. Or they asked my mom to tell me I was going.
I don’t remember how I wound up in a tux this colour, whatever colour it is, but I do remember the powder blue tux I wore a year later. It was just as gaudy as the skin-tight red “Angel Flight” pants I wore in those days. My hair was bigger and I looked like Superfly or Shaft, only geekier.
I’d show you pictures from my 4th date but Red Bubble would remove them. Don’t ask why but I’ll give you a hint: my 4th date didn’t go thru mom.


PS Obviously the photograph wasn’t taken by me; it was taken by Bill Smith Photography. But it was purchased for the sole purpose of providing the families to be able to show off their priceless (sigh) moments. While I fully believe this gives the purchasers full rights to the image as well as the physical photograph, I am considering artistic ownership and not attempting to sell this piece. Consider it ‘shown on the fireplace mantle and you invited into my house’.

Artwork Comments

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