Memoir Monday: Prom in the Time of Shoulderpads

Prom 87 (6)

Boy-I-Barely-Knew, far right, wearing suit. Thanks, Sam Heughan for the use of your head.

I attended prom my junior and senior years.  Junior year, I accidentally picked up a date at a speech tournament.  Was it speech or debate?  Regardless, my head started spinning in a swirl of OMD tunes and I found myself planning to attend my rite of passage with a boy I barely knew.  He showed up in a suit and I cringe now, recalling my embarrassment.    Why did it matter?  I guess stupid things matter when identity and self-esteem have the consistency of Play-doh.



Prom 87 (10)

Me and my gardenia. Jamie Fraser standing in for Boy-I-Barely-Knew.

My mom made my dress, a kind of flapper situation with big honkin shoulder pads.  We used slippery black satin and heavy lace for the tulipy reverse pleats.  I ordered a gardenia for my hair, not wanting to pierce the dress with a hat pin and not trusting Boy-I-Barely-Knew to choose anything besides a carnation.

We were so very wholesome.  Eight of us gathered at Molly’s house for dinner before prom.  Her mom, a culinary goddess, concocted a fantastic meal.  I have no idea what we ate.  My dad took a large pile of pictures using actual film.  The group shots feature at least one set of closed or wayward eyes.  We must’ve driven two cars into downtown Minneapolis.  I lack distinctive memories of the dance itself.  Everything is grayscale, flat.

Prom 87 (3)

The Boys. First Kiss David, sitting left. Malleable Martin, standing right. The other two were interlopers – not part of the gang.

Prom 87 (4)

The Girls. Hello 80s. Molly and I back row. Incognito-In-Pink and Gen front row. This is the ONLY documented record of Incognito wearing baby pink. Ever.

My date and I didn’t kiss.  Or drink.  Or smoke anything.  I’m dead certain that I showed up at home before my curfew.  I probably slept fine and got right back to business as usual.






Senior year I wound up with a boyfriend.  I don’t exactly recall how.  He planned to wear a kilt to prom, which may have contributed to the demise of our relationship.  In retrospect, I think a kilt is an AWESOME idea and I should’ve worn the Lipnicki tartan (from the highlands of Kiev).

The girls of our high school gang utilized a profit sharing model where males were concerned.  We loved our affiliated boys and distributed them to the areas of greatest need.  Martin escorted Gen junior year and then kindly stepped in for my senior prom.  He went on to date Molly’s younger sister as well as Laura, another member of our HS group.

Prom 87 (7)


Prom 87 (1)

I heart 80s hair. I emailed this pic to Martin’s wife (whom I adore).

I paid $30 for my vintage dress at Elsie’s Closet on Nicollet Avenue.  Six hours of babysitting.  I still have the dress.  Elsie died in February at the age of 92.  RIP Elsie – I miss your shop.




Prom 87 (8)

That hoya plant in the background looks like part of my hair…

Prom 87 (2)

Martin channeling Tom Cruise. Note that I am already seatbelted.







We ate dinner at my house – me, Martin, Molly, and X.  Yes, I remember X’s name.  He was a sweet boy but, as he came from outside the gang, no one knows his current whereabouts.  The four of us took Martin’s parents’ boat of an American sedan, again to downtown Minneapolis, again to a grayscale, flat, dark event.

Prom 87 (5)

Martin, X with Sam’s head, Molly, and I.

I spent the night at Molly’s.  Our respective boys stayed until around three am.  I’m guessing they were supposed to leave earlier.  We spent some quality time on the multi-primary-colored seventies carpet, Martin and I chastely smooching on one side of the basement, Molly and X on the other side, under her mother’s sewing machine, practicing their zig-zag stitching.  Or something.

The next morning we all went to the Lake Harriet Rose Gardens (ironically, the site of my First Kiss with a different boy from the gang) and lay on a blanket under the crabapple blossoms, sleep deprivation curling through us like a devious serpent.  Ah, youth.

These dear friends, I hold them close to my heart.  Through college and medical school and law school and depression and addiction and marriage and divorce and birth and the tragic death of one of our own.  We still stand together.

But we did stop sharing our men.

Musical Moment ’86

Musical Moment ’87



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