In my small town, high-school prom is, apparently, the second biggest day of a girl's life, behind only her wedding. My neighbor told me and she should know -- she's lived here all her life. I asked if she was kidding.
Heavens, no. Why, I can still remember every detail of my prom, she said, her muscles creaking and her rheumy old eyes misting over. And that was thirty years ago.
(Quickly counting on my extremities and running out, I realized my own prom was back about the same time as my neighbor's. I hastily revised my opinion of her. Her muscles firmed up. Her eyes sharpened and lost their rheum.)
This would be an appropriate spot to talk about sexism or small-town values, but in fact my mind goes immediately to my own prom. (Not the second biggest day of my life. Or the third biggest. In fact I don't know how far down the days we'd have to count. Yesterday I cooked ribs, and they turned out great! A darn good day.) Back to my prom. Chiefly I remember the tux, a gorgeous creation in powder blue with navy trim, and a fake velvet bow tie about the size of Cleveland. A classic piece of 70s culture. For years the very thought of it has made me laugh.
But fashion is a cannibal, nourishing and renewing itself on the carcass of its own past. (That sounds harsh and slightly confusing. I'll try again.)
But fashion, like two-headed Janus at the gates of the year, looks forward and back. (Better.) Awkward hard-to-wear 70s fashions are (or were recently -- I don't even pretend to keep up) in vogue again. My son Sam is wearing a standard black tux to his girlfriend's prom. When I described my own promwear, his eyes bulged. That ... is ... awesome! he choked. That sounds so cool. I wish I could wear something like that.
Wanting to look like his old man. My eyes misted over for a moment.