Prom and the pouring rain

A woman I knew in high school posted on Facebook a picture of her daughter heading off to prom. That sparked a flurry of reminiscences; my contribution was about how prom night was raining and cold.

A second woman I knew in high school commented how odd it was that anyone would remember, of all things, the prom night weather.

And I wondered how you could not remember the weather.

First, remembering the weather is in my DNA. For example, it was sixty degrees on Christmas in 1982, and twenty-four below zero on Christmas Eve in 1983.

But Christmas comes every year. This was PROM, for crying out loud—a once-in-a-lifetime deal. Champagne. All-night dancing. The girl of my teenage dreams in my arms. How much more romantic does it get?

Plus, in Racine, Wisconsin, prom is like the Academy Awards. Six high schools hold dances in their own gyms, followed by an all-schools celebration in a ballroom downtown. Couples travel in caravans from their schools to Memorial Hall, where a local organization sponsors music and breakfast till a couple hours past dawn.

Throngs gather behind velvet ropes outside the schools and at post-prom to cheer as the couples pull up and sophomore boys escort the senior girls to the door on a red carpet.

It’s been like that since the early 1950s. I’ve seen Super-8 footage of my mom’s prom, held on a pleasant night in June of 1956. Every woman who didn’t look like Liz Tayor or Grace Kelly looked like Barbara Bel Geddes. The guys all wore crew cuts and James Bondian tuxes.

In 1977, there were hardly any black ties to be seen. I wore a light grey cutaway jacket, a pink ruffled shirt and a fuzzy bowtie that you can still see on Jon in the comic strip Garfield. Friends wore mint green, powder blue and ginger tuxes, in most cases to match their dates’ dresses. We sure looked ridiculous, but we sure had fun.

In spite of the weather.

Because in 1977, it rained so hard and the wind howled so ferociously that the velvet ropes lay tumbled in puddles. When I pulled up in my father’s Oldsmobile, the gym door opened a crack and a sophomore boy stuck out one hand, motioning for my date to splash her way down the carpet.

No escort. No throngs.

No romance?

What part of champagne, all-night dancing and “girl of my teenage dreams in my arms” do you not understand? It was the most romantic night of my life—until the night I met Mary Jo.

This is why I remember the weather.

And remembering this kind of stuff is probably why I ended up writing a romance novel. Like remembering the weather, it’s in my DNA.

There are no thunderstorms in Fast Lane; it’s set in L.A. Where they hold the Academy Awards. Like having prom every year.

And the weather’s always the same.

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