SENIOR PROM - 1997
School, I used to work at KFC...it was rather mundane work, until one night
a woman who called herself Jubilee Falcon flowed through the door like a
silky smooth nightie that's been kidnapped and forced to travel along the
same path as the wind's whim. She reminded me of Claire Forlani,
before there was a Claire Forlani.
Jubilee was a diamond in the rough. She drank, smoked weed and was involved
in the types of sexual behaviors my pastor would have classified as 'morally
invalid'...before marriage, anyway. I was from a small town, but her habits
didn't matter to me, because I still wanted her despite all those
eccentricities upon which others in my area would have surely frowned.
Her asinine boyfriend treated her like shit, and she put up with it. Once
in a while, she'd throw him to the curb, but inevitably, he'd crawl back
like the cucaracha he was, begging forgiveness. She would wait for this
moment with open arms. Not that I'm against second chances, mind you. It's
the sixth and seventh that get me to wondering.
Anyway...moving along. About a month before my senior prom, I asked Jubilee
if she wanted to go with me. She said, "No...I don't think my boyfriend
would approve. Keep tabs, though," she advised. "Something might change
between now and the prom."
I tried to stay apprised of her situation, but during this period, she quit
working at KFC, moved to Marshalltown (about 45 minutes away), and I decided
to go through the rolodex.
I asked another co-worker, Tina. She said yes, but then began to assault me
more forcefully than the city of Dresden. She would ask me to watch her
masturbate, show me cleavage, grab "myself".....things that would be greatly
appreciated now. Back then, though, the most important aspect of my life
was my job. I was terrified of being fired, so I shunned her.
I asked Amber. She said she would be honored to go. A week before prom,
she cancelled. Her parents got divorced, and she said she had to go to her
dad's place in Cedar Rapids for the weekend. Her excuse excused her.
Exactly three days after that, on my way to work, I heard a voice in
Wal-Mart. "Hi," it stated simply. I knew it was Jubilee before I even
turned around. I'm good with voices, you see. "I heard you're going to
prom with Amber."
"No...she has to...................go see her dad," I trailed off.
Suddenly, it seemed like a lame excuse, even to me.
"Well, I broke up with my boyfriend and I wa~" before she even finished, I
abruptly asked her to go to the prom...rich, but not smooth.
To this day, I look back on myself at that moment and I can't think of a
time that I would have looked more pathetic. Standing there with nothing,
dejected and clinging desperately to my first and last hope. Somehow, for
some unexpected reason, she said, "Yeah," and a small, delicate smile crept
across her face.
We talked a little while longer, and she told me about her problems, which
mainly consisted of her lack of appropriate prom clothing, and I talked
about the need to coordinate with the prom supervisor about her attendance.
My quandary was easy enough to solve, and as far as her clothing was
concerned, I told her, I really didn't care if she showed up in shorts and a
T-Shirt, so long as she showed up. Looking back, that last statement is
about as true as ever.
Alas, days went by, and we had finally come to the night of my Senior Prom.
It was called "A Night to Remember" and was it. I had a notorious
reputation for being fashionably late, but I've come to realize that there
is absolutely nothing stylish when it comes to continual tardiness. I was
always at least five minutes late,
But not today,
I told myself. Due to the fact that Jubilee now lived in Marshalltown, we
were supposed to meet halfway, at her mother's house, in Grinnell. I lived
on a farm, in the country, about ten miles away.
It takes about twelve minutes to drive from my house to Grinnell. On that
day, though, I left the house forty minutes early so that I would be able to
arrive on time. That's almost 1/2 an hour leeway time. I was golden.
While the odds are inestimably low that on this particular day, at this
particular no-time, the two mile section of Interstate 80 that ran between
the Lynnville and Grinnell exits would be caught up in an inexplicable
traffic jam, due to the fact I had never seen much traffic on this stretch
of highway, that’s exactly what I found that day. To make matters worse,
after I completed the journey in the worst recorded time of ten minutes, I
was caught behind an OVERSIZE LOAD semi, stuck on the exit ramp because it
was unable to make the turn between the yield, wrong way, and stop signs.
Nobody could have predicted such a turn of events. Nobody who knows Iowa,
This semi wasn't just oversized, it was super-sized. After waiting an
exasperating twenty-five minutes (and after the driver of the semi decided
to extract a chain-saw from his cab and cut down two of the signs) I decided
to jump the median. If my father’s Cadillac held up to Dad’s sales pitch
that it was built like a tank, I thought I’d be fine. Luckily, it did, and
I was. Looking in my rear-view mirror, I saw everyone behind me took the
same chance, and I was the lead vehicle in a convoy of cars speeding towards
town. The remainder of the journey played out without incident, and I
arrived at Mrs. Falcon’s house exactly five minutes late. Jubilee’s mother
answered the door and said, "I don't know where Jubilee is. I haven't seen
nor heard from her all day." She knew how to greet people with the worst
I thought, I'm getting stood up on prom night. Fantastic...
"I'm thinking she might be at her friend's house," she offered, although the
sentence was inflected more like a question than a statement, and it was
made to give me some kind of a glimmer of hope, I believe. At the time, it
made sense, because Jubilee had only moved to Marshalltown in weeks prior
due to the fact that she and her mother were continually fighting. The
hypothesis seemed like only the smallest of possibilities.
Still, I took it.
I went to her best friend Mandy's house. I inquired, "Is Jubilee here?"
"No. Weren't you supposed to meet her at her mom's?"
"Yeahyeahyeah...but she's not there. Do you know where else she might be?"
Of course, she had her own suspicions, and we were on our way. Three minutes
after we left, a phone call was placed to Mandy's home.
We checked five hot spots where ol' Jubes had been known to stay. If we
don't hurry, we'll miss the reception.
In our quest to find my date, we drove past KFC twice, oblivious to her, who
was inside. I stopped the car in the middle of the street, on our route to
house number six. I finally thought of my workplace. I stopped, and my
manager told me she left not five minutes prior, but she'd promised to stop
in once more before leaving town. She had arrived at her mother's house five
minutes after I did. I suppose I don't have a monopoly on 'Penchants for
I waited for about fifteen minutes before I heard, "Why didn't you just wait
at her mom's house?" Darcie. Pretty. Seductive, in many ways. She was always
trying to...corrupt me. Quite decent at the attempt, too, even if she wasn't
all that successful. She was a good friend of Jubilee's, but she wasn't my
type. I knew she’d make a good fuck, but she was also probably the type of
woman who’d give me the kind of luggage and grief that only penicillin and a
shotgun in the mouth could solve.
"I thought she didn't...wasn't planning on...well, wouldn't show up. I was
late getting there. Guess she was later." My hands ran through my hair, on
which I had spent almost thirty minutes trying vainly to perfect. "I don't
know what I thought. Or think anymore." I checked the clock. We would miss
the reception. That's okay, I thought. But if we don't hurry,
we'll miss the banquet.
"Man, I can't believe her. She shouldn't get away with this."
"Get away with what?" I questioned. Indeed, she did show up, and it was my
impatience that led me down this road. I ordered a soda and waited for an
additional half-hour before I realized, much to my dismay, Jubilee wasn't
coming back. I didn't know where she was, but I aimed to find out. "I'm
going to find her," I told Darcie.
"That's so sweet!" she replied. I was thinking more along the lines of
'desperate' or 'hopeless'.
"Can you draw me a map to Jubilee's new place?" I asked.
"Sure, grab a napkin," she said, scrawling out a crude diagram.
Before I left town, I stopped by her mother's place, pulling into the
driveway a little more slowly this time...a defeatist attitude had infected
me. "Jubilee stopped by right after you left, but I haven't seen her since.
She's probably left town. I don't know, maybe it'd be better if you just
left her and enjoyed yourself." Enjoy myself? I've always found that to be
one of the most idiotic idiomatic expressions.
"No, ma'am. I'll find your daughter," I promised. I held up my hand and
contorted my face into a determined squint. "You have my word on that." My
word. To be honest, I used to be so...honest. It's sickening to look back on
it now, really. When I give my word, though, I intend to keep it.
"Well, be careful. It's snowing, you know." Was it? I hadn't noticed.
Ten miles into my trip, I noticed. It wasn’t sticking just yet, but it was
becoming a nuisance, hampering my vision. To sum it up in three words: I Was
Pissed. At whom? I can’t say for sure. A dark cloud, its innards so full
with snow that it was ready to vomit, rumbled over my head, poised to
upchuck its guts all over my perfect evening. The whole night was perfect.
It was like we were two ships on courses perfectly scripted to pass in the
night, unaware of the others’ location.
It was a 40-minute drive to Marshalltown, and even if she were there, we’d
already missed the banquet. If we don’t hurry, we’ll miss the dance.
I was following Darcie’s map to the best of my ability, though I never did
figure out the northern orientation on the scribbling.
"All right, she lives in apartment one. If you find her car, you'll know
she's there, because she's the only one in her apartment with a vehicle," I
remembered Darcie's words as I pulled into the Happy Hills apartments, and
drove past an '86 gray Mercury Cougar that was really...there's no nice way
to say this, so I'll just be out with it...shitty.
It looked a lot like this:
that if only you pissed acid and rust on it for an hour.
Now, snow in late March is really kind of a rarity, even in Iowa, but this
storm was really getting out of control and a thick, white layer had covered
everything as I stepped out of the Cadillac. Well, she's here, my own voice
attempted to assure me to no avail. May as well get this over with...
I crunched through the freshly gathering snow, destroying what little
progress the sixty minutes' work of the sky had produced. Don't feel
badly...the heavens would fix the damage in the upcoming hour. I stomped off
my dress shoes in the hallway of building number three. I realized, at this
point, that I had a problem. I looked down the halls, and saw there were no
numbers on the doors. Luckily, there was one apartment that had music
playing so loudly that I swear I could see the sound waves, desperately
searching for escape, pouring out of the cracks above and below the door. I
figured, What a lovely place to begin my search.
I plugged my ears and rapped at the door. I waited, knocked harder, waited
and then pounded the door. Suddenly the door popped open, and my body was
forced back by the outpouring of vocal vibrations. The volume on these
speakers would make even Spinal Tap envious. Somehow I found the strength to
look up, and saw two men. I don't know what the average man's definition of
'a shady character' would be, but intuition tells me that these two would
have fit the bill nicely. One had black, oily hair, and the other, long
blonde, conditioned hair. Yet, they both looked thuggish.
"Whasup?" was the blonde's intellectual greeting.
"Is Jubilee here?" I didn't want to confuse them with big words or long
"Aw, dude. She was all dressed up to go and stuff," Oil of Olay gave me an
answer, but not the one to my question.
"She went riding with some of her friends," the other answered, in direct
opposition to Darcie's advice.
"Really," I replied. "One of her friends told me that none of the people she
knows has a car and hers is outside."
"Maybe one of 'em did get a car," the blonde offered. He was definitely the
valedictorian of their two-man class.
I pressed for more. "You know what? Fine. Whatever. Where did she and her
FRIENDS go, then?"
Oil-Baron thought, "Kum and Go." It a gas station, sadly.
The blonde created a plausible cover, "To a party."
Naturally, I chose to hear the untruth that was easier to destroy. "How long
will she be at Kum and Go?"
"Couple of hours, at least," the blonde mightn't have been as sharp as I
thought. He pronounced hours in pure pirate fashion, the multiple, 'Arrs!'
I was getting a mite irritated at this point, and I fumed, "You know, I just
drove forty minutes through what appears to be the birth of a raging
blizzard. Maybe...you could draw me...a MAP!" If we don't hurry, we'll
miss the prom altogether.
"Yeah...just a sec," the oil tycoon said, as they went inside,
and........slammed the door in my face. >Lock< "Step off, dude. Come back 'smorrow,
it'll be better times." I still have no fucking clue what that means.
A familiar timbre blessed my ears. "Who was that?"
"JUBILEE!" I slapped the door.
"It's your prom dude."
"No way! Well, I'll go get dressed."
"Come on, come back inside. You're in no condition to go."
That was the last I heard from the door for two minutes. Then, I heard,
"Beat it, man! No loitering. Scram! Or we'll throw you out!" No shit. These
turds actually used the word, 'Scram'.
"All right, guys! Have a good night!" Pieces of shit. If I was...
a) 60 pounds heavier,
b) had my black belt in Tae Kwon Do, and
c) wasn't a pussy, I wouldn't have
d) walked out the door.
e) I'd have kicked their collective asses.
As it was, though, back then (pre-army days, and eighty pounds less than I
am now) I figured the last disgrace I needed on this worthless night was an
ass that had been thoroughly pulverized. The snow had already begun filling
in my depressions of destruction, so I re-created (or re-obliterated,
depending on your point of view) them.
I drove home at seventy miles an hour, despite limited visibility and lack
of traction. I was quite simply pissed at how delicate planning and great
expectations could be so easily shattered, and I didn’t give a shit anymore.
I went home. To my home-home. I came inside to get my boutonnière.
“Where have you been?!?” If my mom ever were the one to press the worldwide
panic button, she’d perform the task effortlessly and flawlessly.
“Out.” I calmed her down and explained the skeleton of the story about how I
couldn’t find my date.
“So, did you eventually find her?” my mother asked.
“No,” I replied. “I didn’t.”
“You know it’d be a lot easier if she or her friends had phones,” my father
said, and then laughed at my misery. “Te-ha-haaaaa…” I didn’t find it that
"Andy’s a true friend. He's called three times looking for you." At the
time, I think desensitizing enzymes were the reason I didn’t realize what
she was trying to say. Maybe I just didn’t care. But eventually, the pain
returned like Novocain fading, and I was genuinely touched.
I got back in my car, and traveled along the road I took every day to get to
school. I have to hurry, or I'll miss the prom and the after-prom
entirely. The snow was really getting to be a bother, so I went slower
this time, but not slowly by any stretch of the imagination. It looked like
I was the first to travel the road since the shit storm started. It was
coming down, all right, but I'm an expert driver, in all conditions.
I pulled into the Lynnville-Sully parking lot and exited my vehicle. My
appearance had pretty much lost all its luster at that point, but I put on
my top hat for symbolism's sake, straightened my tie, and checked myself
out. I'd lost a cufflink somewhere, probably in a snow bank outside of the
Not-So-Happy Hill Apartment complex. Maybe I'll go retrieve it 'smorrow,
The doors, for some reason, to the school were locked, so someone let me in,
and, of course, everyone wanted to know what had happened. After telling the
story about ten times, I found Andy. He's the only one who was told the
story without asking. Andy told me, "Hey, nice of you to show up. I thought
you were laying in a ditch somewhere. Well, either that or you were LAYING
in a ditch somewhere." I had to laugh...Andy, for some reason, always finds
the most inappropriate thing to say, which cracks me up.
I was just in time for the last dance of the night. You know the one. The
one everyone saves for the person they came with. I stood next to the
wrestling mat for five minutes. Welcome to Senior Prom.
To cap off this craptastic evening, our principal, Mr. Thomas, came to the
microphone to announce, "The after-prom has been cancelled due to weather
conditions." Par for the night, as far as I was concerned. I figured I'd
just go home or hit a party somewhere, but, much to my dismay, that was out
of the question. "Furthermore, we are locking the doors. No one will be
allowed to leave until sunrise. Thank you." I didn't know fire codes were
precluded by blizzards, but, apparently, they are. I was more upset about
the fact that I was driving not ten minutes earlier, and then was told that
it was unsafe to drive.
The night lingered, so I played Star Wars: Shadow of the Empire for hours on
the newly-released N64. At three o'clock they played movies in the Middle
School gymnasium, so I went out to sleep on some wrestling mats that some
dude's wanker had been ground into the day before. I awoke and we were given
prom door prizes. I think I won a cordless phone. It worked like shit, of
course. 64 MHz piece of fucking shit.
I've never really had more than a two minute conversation with Jubilee since
then. I saw her a almost a year ago for the first time in ages. I knew we'd
cross paths eventually, being in the same town, and all. She was married, so
I didn't think about her too much, anymore.
A couple months ago, I discovered she got divorced. Maybe I’ll have to look
That was my first disastrous date.