April 27, 1997 Sunday
Walter, the owner of the Hub, had expected a large turnout for Friday night, but relatively few cowboys and cowgirls rode in for the hoedown. At my bar we had two new bartenders, instead of the usual one server: Ainsley’s brother Bob and an older lady. The first thing the wizened lady said to be in a smoker’s rasp was, “Get me some booze, honey.” This elderly woman was not the best company. She did two things I really do not like. She puffed away constantly and swore a lot. I don’t even have to state the foolishness of smoking, and as far as swearing, it has the ability to sometimes make a person sound crude and uneducated.
To begin my prom day I began by cleaning my room. By ten I was on my way to Peoria, driving under a clear blue sky, to pick my tux at Ducky’s. For socks I thought the fun, unusual choice of Mickey Mouse would look good. I paid the rest of what I owed for the rental and after some lunch at Avanti’s headed for Lifestyles for my 12:30 appointment. Around 1:30 I was leaving Peoria, but I felt extremely tired from my late night at the Hub. By the time I got home, I had forty-five minutes to get ready, and be at Hoke’s. I dressed fairly quickly, and with a change of clothes in hand I headed for my senior prom.
From Hoke’s we went to get Willa across town. Sidney was next on our list, miles to the east at her estates. When we arrived at Sidney’s Nick Mullins was already there to get her sister Cilla. As I watched them get pictures Sidney made her appearance around a corner. She looked great, and her hair was (I can’t think of another word) great. Her family must be memento crazy, because we spent ten minutes standing and turning slightly for ten minutes, and getting videotaped as we walked to Hoke’s borrowed Explorer. Next was Monica Jackson, not far away in tiny Edwards, and then Gil Siepel (he wore a regular tux), all the while taking pictures at each house. Hoke started to call me “Reverend” because my suit looks like a priest’s garb. The problem at this point was that the Explorer could hold only five people in seats, and we had six. To solve the dilemma, I rode in the back. What I do for the good of the group….
When we reached the high school back on the far west side of the county, we had about a half hour to get more pictures. Grand March kicked off at five. It went off without a hitch, and best of all, no one fell. Trisha and Spence were named senior attendants. Timmy Meers and April Gatson were named king and queen. Sidney wasn’t ecstatic about the decision for queen. Directly following Grand March we went outsides for pictures, and pictures they took. The Wallses alone used countless roles to document Sidney. I got in on many group shots, including one with Sidney, Hoke Gil Siepel, Monica Jackson, Willa, Reagan Potts, Emma, and Colin. Except for some silver socks Colin ended up doing nothing weird to himself for prom. After a quick stop at Hoke’s, with Sidney now keeping me company in the back of the Explorer, we drove to Wildlife Prairie Park.
During dinner the only amusing things that happened was Gil Siepel made Sidney have punch come out of her nose from laughing. The meal itself wasn’t bad, but it could have been better. The beef could have been a little less…raw.
Dancing was definitely the best part of the night. I really liked it, even though I’m not all that graceful. While I loved more energetic songs like “Shout” and “Everybody Needs Somebody To Love,” my favorites were the slow songs. Hoke does not like to dance no matter the tempo, but while this did nothing to me, Monica Jackson was without someone for most of the night. I danced with her a few times, while trying to make up for my unsuave friend. Monica Jackson said he wouldn’t say anything about her dress, etc, unless she first complimented him. Hoke’s strange that way, but I realize it’s just that he’s out of his natural environment and comfort zone. I was sure to tell her she looked great. Of course, that wasn’t all for naught. Because of my chivalry, Monica Jackson told Sidney I had been a real gentleman. I couldn’t believe too how much, and how well, Nick Mullins and Cilla danced. They really like each other.
I requested several songs, the ones I remember being “Hotel California” and “Unchained Melody.” It was during this last song, while we were dancing, that I gave Sidney the gold bracelet. She seemed to like it, though I struggled with the tiny clasp in the dark, and barely got it before the song was over. Sidney said today she couldn’t understand why I would go to so much trouble. It was no trouble. “Tears in Heaven” was the last song of the night. Near the end I could see Hoke was again not very happy with me. I guess I left him for some long stretches. I tried several times to have Sidney dance with him to included, which she happily did, but that’s all I could do.
Before heading back to Elmwood, Willa and I changed at Sidney’s house. Monica Jackson was dropped off at her house because she had to get out early the next morning. Gil Siepel was taken to his house then so he too could change. On the way back to town Sidney was very tired, and put her head on my shoulder. I put my arm around her, and rested my head lightly on hers. As we got nearer to Elmwood Hoke made a big deal from way in the front about wanting the two of us to sing along with a song that was playing, but I really didn’t care at that moment. If only the ride, from the back of a Ford Explorer, had been a little less bumpy.
The after-prom started off at the Palace Theater uptown. We were a little late after all the drop offs, but the film was experiencing some technical difficulties. After Happy Gilmore the party then moved to the bowling alley two blocks away. Reagan Potts, Sidney, Willa, Gil Siepel, Hoke, Colin, and I all played. I won, though by the last frame they were basically off doing other things. I also won a sunshield for a car window in the prize drawing. As for the grand prize, Monica Jackson’s name was drawn for the color TV, but she wasn’t present to collect it. By the end of after-prom Sidney, Colin’s date, Reagan Potts, and I were playing Pictionary.
We had had plans to go for breakfast, but instead we just went to Willa’s house. Once there we started watching Tommy Boy. Sidney went to sleep. I thought that was a good idea, but however I tried I couldn’t drift off. I laid there for a long time, on the floor in Willa’s living room in front of the TV, listening to the movie, until it was turned off and the rest went to sleep. It was about 6:00 by this point, but I still couldn’t sleep. I instead got up and sat next to the window for the next two and half hours while I waited for the lucky sleepers, spread out around the room, to wake up. Sidney woke up about 7:00, but went back to sleep when she saw I was up. She said she could go to my church service, that started in a few hours, but that meant we had to leave by 8:45. Hoke dropped us all off; when he stopped at my house, I noticed that Sidney watch me intently from the back of the Explorer as Hoke began to drive up the hill and out of Elmwood.
At 10:30, just as church was starting, Sidney arrived. Afterwards she commented on how different my church is to hers. Yes, our church is a bit more, um, folksier than others, She couldn’t believe we clapped after the choir would sing a song, told wry, semi-jokes, and that the congregation held hands and sang briefly at the end.
I had asked her to come by my house to eat lunch, but I hadn’t meant it as a trick. Later we talked in my room. I shouldn’t have done this for several reasons 1) I wanted to talk, but really had nothing excited left to talk about 2) I had had five hours of sleep in the last three days 3) I was of course also still processing our time together, like she was. I tried to discuss the idea that I would tell her anything she wanted to know. I talked about Ainsley, and back when I was afraid to drive. I overstepped it on the next subject, but let me tell you what I mean. When I told Monica Jackson about my relationship with Sidney (Monica had been interested), I did say I consider he more than a friend. Also, I think about the two-week time span we have left, and how any of this will effect what friendship I have let with Hoke. I’m in a bind, I realize now, between what I’d like, and how people will often perceive me. I even talked about the sacredness of such a great friendship, but to be truthful I don’t know where I stand, for the many reason above. I spoke too hastily.
Sidney would rather not talk about it, and that is okay, but eventually I would like to know how she feels. We have a game tonight in Brimfield, at the regular time. If you wold like to continue from prom (at which I had a lot of fun) please come. Then again, if you do not want to, do not. After what I clumsily told you what I had told Monica Jackson, you seemed not yourself. Right now I am little confused what the next step is. I will await your answer. As for right now, I am going to sleep.