[Sidebar: Don’t you feel like Jennifer Garner is the new Jennifer Aniston? ]
Anyway, I am here to give you a detailed account of 8th Grade Prom Night 2K8.
In summation: it was magical.
At 5:20pm on Tuesday, June 3, I boarded the L train headed for Myrtle-Wyckoff Aves. As the train passed Graham Avenue, I knew I was outside of my safe space—but the nerves in my tummy weren’t because I was heading into the outer boroughs. I was headed to an 8th grade prom at…Le Fleur De Lis.
Yes, Le Fleur De Lis.
Just cause they weren't in school didn't mean the evening didn't have class!
After walking about 30 minutes in every direction but the right one (I don’t fare well outside of my safe space), I finally saw the grand ballroom, with it’s red felt—not velvet!—rope and matching carpet. My gentlemen caller was waiting outside, worried that I had fallen into a subway grate, and when I saw him in his gold bowtie and baby-blue button-down shirt with a cream blazer, I knew this wouldn’t be any ordinary evening.
Once inside, I was blinded by multiple views of…myself, as the entire room was lined with mirror panels.
LINED WITH MIRRORS.
To the immediate right, an archway of blue and gold balloons accentuated a small fountain that sputtered streams of what was most likely contaminated water. It was already 40 minutes into the big night and only one student had arrived (I guess CP time is real), but judging by her pink floor-length gown and sheer white tights, I knew only more style icons were on the way.
And I was right. As students began to arrive shortly after 7, my mind was blown by the style that these young teens possessed. While there are hundreds of pictures on my gentleman caller’s camera, apparently posting them here would be “illegal” because “the children are minors.”
Luckily, as a woman of color and a writer, I will use my powers of observation and way with the written word to describe the night’s style trends
8th Grade Style Watch 2008—aka, “Teens: They’re Just Like Us!”
1. White suits were the look for the 8th grade men, which really popped against their dark Nubian skin. It was like having a second Fleet Week, as each boy, from tall and lanky to short and…well, lanky, entered in their crisp summer whites. Most weren’t afraid to add a splash of color. My favorite was the little tyke wearing a pale-pink vest with a matching pocket handkerchief and matching pink backwards kangol newsie-style cap. I’d buy papers from him any day!
2. It also seemed 8th grade prom wasn’t just a night for those who may not make it to their high school proms; the girls wore gowns that would rival any of those in Modern Bride, with taffeta for miles. Many even wore white, and I took out my pocket bible, prepared to officiate any ceremonies that might be held (I'd initially brought the good book in case any of the heathens need a dose of Jesus). At one point in the evening, as I trolled the perimeter of the dance floor to make sure there was no bumpin’ and grindin’ I almost tripped and fell as two large trains glided slowly by me. It was a close call, but I managed to survive the taffeta tumble.
3. I wore a simple black dress which was modestly cut to avoid offending the youth or the parents. However, I quickly learned that this was something I didn’t have to be concerned with. Some of these ladies had more breasts and thighs hanging out than a bucket of chicken from KFC! Many also wore tube dresses, which made for some awkward dance-floor moments. My favorite was a girl in a emerald-green backless dress who also had rhinestone eyelashes.
Yes. Rhinestone eyelashes.
4. And, of course, you know how young aspiring blacktresses roll—the hair was DONE UP. Twists with glitter sprinkled throughout, weaves barely in place, and pin curls to the max, my gentleman caller (of the Caucasian persuasion, obvi) said to one student, “Your hair is very impressive,” which was an understatement.
The party didn’t really get going until 8pm, when the STRETCH HUMMER LIMO containing 20 students arrived. These kids were clearly the coolest, as everyone gathered around to watch them emerge from their chariot. Watching them pose for pics around their ride, I thought about priorities. Many of them can’t read at their grade level, yet they’ve got more bling than extras in a rap video. I think that, instead of chipping in for a limo, they should have gotten library cards and started a book club. Anyway, I digress.
Once inside, the DJ (a portly middle-aged black man who I found out normally takes daily attendance) began spinning the jams, and after feasting on mac and cheese, chicken wings, and mozzarella sticks—I told you this joint was classy, right?—the kids got on the dance floor and shook it up like whoa! As the chaperones, we were told to stop any “booty dancing.” We strolled the perimeter of the dance floor, making sure the youth were leaving enough room for the Holy Ghost as they shook it like a polaroid picture.
The dance floor really got hot when a song came on that instructed them to hop and skip and two-step. Like a scene from a teen movie, they all began doing a choreographed routine. I almost shed a tear, as my longtime fantasy of watching a live, spontaneous dance number at a school dance was realized right before my very eyes. They also danced to songs about laffy taffy, chicken noodle soup, and apple bottom jeans—I am so out of the young negro pop loop. Maybe it was my private schooling.
As I watched the kids, I marveled at how times have changed since I was a young Sojourner. First of all, some of those 13-year-olds looked 30 (see the clever title?) , and I had to check myself in a few instances. I don’t know if it’s the hormones in the McDonald’s or the profanity on television, but when I was 13, I did not have the body to fill out at backless spaghetti-strapped dress, let alone the guts to pull it off! But here these ladies were, strutting it like whoa and repeatedly “taking it low.” (Apparently, a lot of the hip songs now demand that you take it low, and get down on the ground with your booty. It made me uncomfortable.) And if 13 year old boys now come in adult size, I may have to start training them early—JK (rowling!). But seriously, some of these boys were huge, and a few were even jacked, and I was momentarily confused.
Then I found out one of them was 17 years old.
Let’s take a moment of silence in mourning of this tragedy.
A 17-year-old 8th grader?! 17-year-old. 8th grader. Tell me that does not make you and the baby Jesus cry! This is why it rained last night! You know it’s a hot mess when you can damn near vote for Barack but can’t solve for x!
The highlight of the evening was watching my gentlemen caller dance with his students a couple of times. They flipped out as he jumped up and down and performed the white man’s overbite. They also quickly fell in line when he brought out the limbo stick, proving that he was indeed their educational massa.
Oh, wait, the actual highlight was when he gave me a corsage!!!!
It was too magical.
And I’m going to dry it and press it between the pages of my diary so that I never forget the most magical evening of my adulthood—and my youth.