Monday, May 09, 2005

the prom

Saturday night was the prom. It was on the Delta Queen, though somehow I got it into my head, wrongly, that it was to be on the Natchez. When we got to the Natchez's dock there was no boat and there were no girls in tiaras. Strangely, who do you think shows up, also looking for the Natchez, but the secretary of school, the woman who not only would not talk to me or acknowledge my presence for the first six months of my time at Douglass, but who wouldn't even say hello back to my hello. How flipping ironic was that? Fortunately, she had a cell phone and called someone on the boat and found out that the boat was docked FAR AWAY, behind the Hilton, at Canal Street, the other side of the ferry. We were walking and her feet were hurting so she took off her shoes, and I mean we forged ahead, including walking over a patch of rocks. She was awesome!
The prom was spectacular! (exclamation marks are called for when discussing excellent proms) Most of the girls were wearing tiaras, and damned if I didn't think about wearing mine but in the end decided not to. The usual prom dramas played out, with individuals sitting alone eschewing their friends and their friends' pleas to allow them to help her, girls and boys together that one wouldn't have conceived of before, and so on. The girls were gorgeous. So were the guys. I mean they were gorgeous. One girl had an aqua dress and over-the-elbow aqua gloves. She was like a queen. That's what it seemed like, that we were in a room full of queens, and the men were cleaned up and dressed up, trying to get themselves one.
The music was through a dj, which was good fun. A girl, someone who was in my class a few times, said, "do you know who I am?" and, due only to divine intervention, her right name came out of my mouth. Then she insisted that I dance with her, which I absolutely had decided before the prom that I would not do but which I did with very little coercion. Now I'm not going to say I've got THE moves, but I have SOME moves, and I moved and they didn't laugh at me. Well, just a little bit. But only because they're accustomed to laughing at me. One of the girls taught me yet another line dance. (this same girl asked me, as we were walking on Canal Street after the prom toward our next destinations, if she'd passed my class. I told her to come see me today. She had not passed my class, and she did not show up today.)
But here is the special thing about the night. My friend, Karen, who graduated from Douglass in 1963 (in her time the school was called Nicholl's) agreed to accompany me to the prom. She wore a coral chiffon dress (with a sateen-like underslip, all coral) which had dragonflies on it. As another friend of mine said of her, she looked like a character out of The Great Gatsby. She was beautiful, and like a wisp. A teacher at Douglass who'd arrived at our school in 1965, while it was still Nicholls, to whom I mentioned that I was bringing Karen, brought me to his archives of old school newspapers (The Rebel Yell, which was a fantastic school newspaper) and we found all the 1963 editions of the paper there were to be had, and I gave them to her before the prom. In one of the papers she was acknowledged for having delivered a speech at a Future Teachers of America convention, which she didn't even remember having done.
It was a magic night. As prom nights are supposed to be.

Melanie

2 Comments:

Anonymous Cassandra said...

Were you wearing a tiara? If it weren't for you, this prom wouldn't have been so magical because many of your princes and princesses wouldn't be graduating.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Melanie,
With the school year coming to an end, what are you feelings about your transition and choice to teach in Orleans Parish? What would you say to someone who is making the same move and what traits have you seen in other successful teachers in your school?

Thank you...Peace and Love

10:39 PM  

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