Single White Nerd: Prom Prince
a blogumn by Michael Kass
Sometimes I wish I’d kept a journal growing up. If I had, I might have written something like this about my prom. . .Enjoy!
My prom is two weeks away and I want to look good. Not just good—I want to look different. For once during my high school career I want to be a rebel. I want to make an Entrance. To strut into the room, date on my arm, wearing something that will make it clear that I have come to shed my nerdly ways and finally Be Cool. This is what I want and I have no idea how to achieve it.
My high school career has been a study in non-descript success. Good grades, but not the best in the class. Math team. Science Olympiad. Literary Arts Journal. Secretary Treasurer of the Student Council (who even votes for secretary-treasurer?). I wear lots of beige. No dates. I’ve been to a couple of parties, but mostly stand in the corner unsure of what to do with my hands. When it comes to making a statement, I’m clueless.
I try going to Men’s Wearhouse. They immediately toss me into a normal black tux. I take one look at myself in the mirror–another average pimply faced, 5’6” inch tall, 140 pound dork in a normal, every day prom suit stares back at me. “Fuck this tux shit, man,” I say. My glasses slip off of my face somewhere between “Fuck” and “shit.” Rebellion is hard.
My parents can’t help me. My dad goes to work every day wearing the same khaki pants and light blue shirt, 5 pens clipped to his front pocket, slight belly hanging over his belt. No, I need outside help.
Salvation arrives in the form of Uncle John and Uncle Alex. They’re not really my uncles. Alex works for my mother in some capacity that involves him coming over to my house for cocktails at least once a week. John is his on-again off-again partner of 15 years. They’re both snappy dressers. John and I are the same size and he has a closet full of formal wear that has gone unworn for far too long.
I spend two hours with John and Alex. We drink several cocktails. I’m on the receiving end of at least three speeches in which John or Alex, or both, press condoms into my hand and warn me to be safe while getting as much sex as possible on prom night. Just when I’m about to throw in the towel and take my condoms home, they finally pull it from their walk-in closet. It is a tuxedo. Instead of being black, it is royal blue with blue studs and cuff-links that twinkle in the light. It’s amazing.
The shirt that John and Alex pair with the tux does not have a collar. No. A mere collar could never do this tux justice. It has a built in ascot. When I first see the two strips of cloth hanging down on either side of the shirt, I have no idea what they are. John ties the strips of cloth in a fancy knot, fluffs them and steps back. “Ascot,” he says. I nod as if to say “Duh.”
I examine myself in their mirror. I am no longer a dork. I am a dashing rake, ascot faintly askew. I imagine my entrance to prom. I thow the door open and all eyes turn to me. Murmurs coarse through the conventionally attired crowd–”Holy crap,” they say, “Who is that? In the blue?” Some people will recognize me as the pencil-necked geek in math class or from the Model UN Club. Some will not. But by the end of the night, they will have all asked me about my outfit. “Oh this,” I’ll say, “Just something I had in my closet. This is an ascot.”
Later that night, my date and I will go to the after party and, in some secluded corner, we’ll kiss. And somehow we’ll have sex. My imagination isn’t quite up to the task of figuring out what that will be like—the most I’ve ever done with a girl is make out in the emergency stairwell at the train station, her grinding down against me as my lower back slams painfully into the edge of the stairs—but I imagine that it will happen. It will happen because in my blue tuxedo, anything is possible.
Two weeks later, I’ll discover that wearing a bright blue tuxedo to prom is a great way to get a reaction. My date, seeing me on her doorstep, will giggle. Later that night, one of her friends will tell me that she only agreed to go to prom with me to make one of the football players jealous. I’ll defend her until I see her wander off with the football player at 12:30 in the morning. They’ll go to the bathroom together. I’ll follow and listen at the door, hearing soft moans and the sounds of zippers sliding. Instead of bursting in, I’ll stand at the door, a blue clad watchman. “It’s occupied,” I’ll tell anyone who walks past, “I’m waiting my turn.” At 12:45 in the morning, hearing my date and the football player coming towards the door, I’ll scurry to the side and try to conceal myself behind a plant. That’s when I’ll discover that it is difficult to hide in a bright blue tuxedo. “Jesus, what the hell” the football player will say as my date looks down, blushing. She will no longer, at that point, be my date. I’ll go home alone in a taxi at 1 AM, holding back tears with the ends of my ascot.
In two weeks, I’ll give anything to be wearing a normal black tuxedo. To fit in. To be just like everyone else.
But that’s all two weeks away. Right now, in the flickering candlelight, I’m a prince. Better than that, I’m a fashion revolutionary and I am Cool.