The Future’s Past: New Wave Prom

 (by Muffy Mulligan)

I am like, So. Fricking. Bent.

So, first of all, I totally missed my junior prom because my stupid boyfriend got Mono, which is super fishy because that’s obviously the kissing disease, but when I asked him who he had been mashing with, he acted all harshed and asked me who I had been mashing with, and then we fought for like three hours about who was being the bigger dingus, and then we ended up breaking up like a week before prom, and it was totally too late for anyone half decent to ask me even if they wanted to, and I totally had to just stay home and watch Pretty In Pink. And even she got to go to prom and she was like totally the biggest loser but the guy she liked fell in love with her and they totally kissed in front of his car in the parking lot, and that should’ve been ME.

So, the next year I was like, “Hey, it is my Senior. Fricking. Year. I am going to wear the prettiest dress with the puffiest sleeves you’ve ever seen, and I am going to win Prom Queen and I am going to dance in the spotlight with Chris Chapman, who is the captain of the football team, and is definitely going to win “best eyes,” and his hair feathers perfectly, and we are going to have babies someday.”

So like, Chris and I had Health class together and he sat almost right next to me but like two rows over, and for like a month before prom I made a point of talking really loudly about how I’ve never had herpes or anything so he would know I was good to go, and maybe wonder a little bit if the girls who didn’t announce it maybe had herpes. Anyway, he totally looked at me and smiled, and I could tell there was something between us.

Anyway, like two other guys who were moderately cute asked me to prom— one of them was this guy I lived next door to growing up who’s had a crush on me probably forever but he was sort of into that dorky New Wave scene, and the other one was this guy from my remedial math class who always talked to me about this motorcycle he claimed to own but I never saw him riding anywhere—but I said no to both of them because I was waiting for Chris to get the courage to ask me. But the worst possible thing that has happened in the history of the world happened—he asked that bitch Stacy Michaels, who I’m pretty sure was like 20 years old posing as a high school student like on 21 Jump Street because her skin was like way too perfect and her boobs were enormous. They’re probably fake. She probably has herpes, too.

So I was like, “OK…maybe it’s not too late for us. Maybe I can go with someone else, but when I walk in he’ll see me standing there and he’ll walk over to me all slowly and say something like ‘I’m glad you came.’ and I’ll be like ‘Why aren’t you dancing with Stacy Michaels?’ and he’ll be like ‘I only asked her to make you jealous.’ and then he’ll kiss me while that song ‘If You Leave’ plays.”

But then It turned out that the guy from my math class got in a motorcycle accident and was like paralyzed or doesn’t have legs anymore or something, and then my neighbor changed his mind about even wanting to go to prom.

So, for like five more years after graduation I tried dating high school guys in the spring so that maybe I could finally go, but they were all crazy or their moms were totally too much drama to even waste my time on. Anyway, it just never worked out and I had to keep having my prom dress let out for no reason.

So, anyway, a couple weeks ago I ran into my old neighbor, and he asked me to go to this crazy New Wave Prom for grown-ups that this chick Molly Roberts is throwing at the Women’s Club.

So like, I totally had to choose between never going to prom at all, or going to this totally weird alt-prom where everybody is probably going to have purple streaks in their hair or something, and my totally perfect dress is all wrong, and Chris won’t even be there to tell me how he’s really in love with me.

Anyway, I had to find out what New Wave actually was before I decided if I wanted to go so I wouldn’t look like a total idiot. I guess it’s like, sort of punk and sort of pop but not really? I asked like 20 people and none of them really knew; they were just like “Duran Duran!” Or “The Talking Heads!” Or “Blondie!” But then my one friend was like, “It’s like all the music from every John Hughes movie, plus a lot of funky dresses and androgynous dudes who have feelings and stuff.” And then I kinda felt like my Pretty In Pink fantasy was back on the table, so I decided to say yes and started cutting up my dress so I could turn it upside down and sew a bunch of lace onto it.

Before I knew it, it was Friday the 31st, and my totally awesome dress was done. So I called Mark up and was like, “Hey Mark (my old neighbor’s name is Mark), I have great news. I will totally go to prom with you tonight. You can pick me up in a limousine at 6:30 to take me to dinner. My favorite flower is a pink carnation and my favorite kind of corsage is wrist.” But then he was like, “Oh, um, this is sort of a more casual prom, and I made plans to go with a group of friends and we’re carpooling. But you’re totally welcome to join us!”

I thought it must have been embarrassing for him to obviously not have enough money for a limo, or have the ability to find a girlfriend after I had initially crushed his heart in high school, so I decided to make it easier for him by going along with the whole ruse of wanting to go with a group. Besides, at least if there were a lot of people going together it wouldn’t be as big of a blow to him if I met someone and fell in love with them and had babies.

Around 8:00 that night I was standing in my livingroom tapping the toe of my super uncomfortable pink stiletto on the floor (which is not even easy to do by the way, but I find theatrics to be very important), when this disgusting van pulled up in front of my house. The sliding door opened up and Mark tumbled out with like three other guys. He was wearing one of those tuxedo t-shirts, and he did not even have a corsage. Like, at all. My little sister started laughing so hard Diet Pepsi came out her nose and then she started screaming, “It burns! It burns!”

You might think that this was the reason I’m so mortified, but the seriously heinous part of the night was yet to come.

I climbed into the van—which I should mention did not even have seats for everyone and I had to sit on Mark’s lap (convenient)—and we headed down to the Women’s Club on 3rd and Pine.

The next awkward moment of the night came when we got to the door. The chick was like, “Tickets?” So I look at Mark, and Mark looks at me—right in the eye—and he hands a the girl a single ticket and then just stands there staring at me. And I’m like, “Um, was that the only ticket you had?” And he was like, “Yeeeaaah. I got mine a week ago at Bootleg.” And I was like, “Well, you totally asked me to prom.” And he was like, “Well, I told you about the prom, and suggested you might have fun…” And I was like, “Well, I didn’t even bring a purse with me.” And he was like, “Okaay…well, I guess I at least saved a couple bucks getting the first one in advance.” And he handed the chick a ten.

So, I sort of get him trying to weasel around paying for me, since he’s obviously poor and everything, but the thing with pretending he wasn’t crazy gaga over the fact that we were finally on a date was getting super tiresome. Like, just admit you’re having the best night of your life.

Anyway, once we got through that weirdness, it seemed like the night was really looking up. There were a ton of people there, and I had to admit they were wearing some pretty awesome clothes. Especially the opening performer, some chick named Claudette de Versailles, who was like, totally even taller than my dad.

Then there was this crazy performance by all these bellydancers. I don’t even know what they were doing at a prom, but it was a totally awesome idea to have all kinds of really good dancers at a dance.

There was this DJ named Mike Flanagan (I guess he’s like, super into New Wave, and has done a bunch of these proms up in Redding or something. And I heard that he and Molly Roberts put one on last year at this bar called the Maltese, and everybody was super pumped for it), and he was playing pretty much every song I love. I’m talking about “My Sharona,” and “Whip It,” and “Rock Lobster,” and “Karma Chameleon,” and all the best songs ever written.

There was a photo booth with this awesome photographer named Melanie MacTavish, and KZFR had set up a bar…it was pretty much everything you could want from a regular prom only way cooler. I was doing all the dances I know: the Electric Slide, the Alf, the Bedrock, the Moonwalk, that thing Molly Ringwald does in The Breakfast Club, the Cabbage Patch, the Robot, the Dolphin, the Truffle Shuffle, the Snake, the Worm, the Walk Like an Egyptian…

And then it happened. I saw him. There was Chris. Frickin. Chapman, standing there on the other side of the dance floor. I am not even kidding that OMD’s “If You Leave” started to play; it was like something out of a dream. He turned his head and I swear to God his hair totally swished in slow motion as he flipped it away from his eyes that are totally the best eyes. He was looking right at me, and my heart started beating out of my chest. I could totally feel myself getting pregnant already.

He started walking toward me like he was all unconcerned, and I started walking toward him. It was everything I had pictured, but then I had this total inspired moment like we were Baby and Johnny at the end of Dirty Dancing, so I just started running and closed my eyes and leapt with my arms out to the sides. And, well…I feel like it’s pretty obvious that I was wrong about the leap. But that wasn’t actually the worst part.

People were all crowded around, trying to pick me up off the floor while I wiped the blood off my nose. I scanned their faces looking for Chris, feeling totally panicked that I had missed my one big chance. It was in that moment that I heard a voice come on over the PA. It was 11:30; time to announce the Prom King and Queen. I was scrambling to my feet, slipping on the smeared blood that had pooled on the floor where I fell. “Chriiiis!” I shrieked. “CHRIIIIIIIIS!”

“And our winners tonight for Prom King and Queen are…Chris Chapman (gasp!) and…Mark Neighbors!”

“NO!” I screamed. “Nononononononooooooo…” and then I collapsed in a heap of pink and red taffeta. How could Mark even do this to me? How could Chris? It’s not like they’re actually gay and that’s why they slow danced and stared deeply into each other’s eyes—I would’ve known because I’m very perceptive—they were just doing this to humiliate me for some reason.

Or maybe it was just a joke? Just a really funny joke and I was a part of it? I started laughing, louder and louder as I stumbled toward them, my outstretched hands covered in the blood that was still pouring from my face. They didn’t even seem to notice me.

Suddenly I was knocked in the side of my head by what turned out to be a swift roundhouse from one of the bellydancers. Apparently that’s why they were really there, some kind of prom-royalty secret service detail. They dragged me to the curb outside and left me there. This was the worst, most humiliating night of my life, and yet…if I really thought about it, that was the Best. Prom. Ever. Next year I’m going to totally win Prom Queen by telling everyone Mark has herpes.


New Wave Prom, Chico Women’s Club 

Friday January 31st 

doors 8pm, opening show 8:30pm, 

then dancing forever (or until midnight, whichever comes first). 

Tickets $8/advance, available at Bootleg & Ultra Beautician, or $10/door 


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Managing Editor for Synthesis Weekly. Amy likes to make clothes, plant flowers, and chase butterflies.