|Apr/May 2000 Nonfiction|
The uneventful way in which the new year passed without religious apocalypse, global computer mishaps, or devestating acts of terrorism sparked memories in me of another widely hyped, ultimately anticlimactic event: my 1983 high school senior prom.
Like Emma Bovary, I had imbibed notions of transformative festivities, listening for years to tales of heavy drinking, after prom parties down the Cape, and, of course, abundant sexual gratification. Shrugging off the discomfort caused by my sunburn and the fatigue I felt from not sleeping the previous night, I set off to pick up my date Karen at her South Brookline home.
She was magnificent. Her bronzed skin shone in invitation against her white layered dress. Her teeth glistened, and her dark black hair, freshly coiffed for the occasion, evoked images of the Italian Renaissance maidens who were her ancestors. Inside the tuxedo I had borrowed from my father, my stomach growled in anticipation as we drove to Cambridge's Hyatt Regency hotel.
"Aren't you psyched?" Jane, a football cheerleader, asked radiantly as we entered the cavernous main hall. She and the hockey team captain, resplendent in his red bow tie, kissed passionately on the dance floor when the music began. My excitement heightened, then waned as Karen began a night-long series of intimate dances with her burly ex-boyfriend.
The evening wound down. I retrieved Karen and took her back to her house. The living room light illuminated the outline of her portly father sitting in his favorite chair, waiting up determinedly for his only daughter. Karen and I kissed good night for a few magical seconds, I squeezed her rear end gently with my right hand, and we parted.
An unwelcome realization dawned on my way home. For the first time I knew that the meaning we draw from our lives comes at its own pace, without regard to the calendars that chart time's relentless advance or the occasions we contrive to mark that passage. Although this insight equipped me with a greater acceptance of responsibility for my life's choices, I still felt disappointed that Prom Night had ended with myself and my existence largely unchanged.
This mixture of feelings remained dormant for sixteen years, and awoke with me this past New Years Day. I made my way downstairs and saw the living room strewn with clothes, toys, and a broken futon frame, looking exactly as it had when I had gone to sleep eight hours earlier in the previous century. I shuddered slightly, then smiled because I remembered that the new millenium doesn't truly start until next year. And it's going to be spectacular.
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