Prom Night Memories: The Good, the Bad, and Tears for Fears

Entertainment GeekMom
Rebecca Angel with high hopes on prom night.

This post was published on the original GeekMom site, then published again on Wired, and now it’s back here! I can’t get enough of these stories, so please add your own!

Do geeks go to prom? In fiction, it depends on the gender. Geek guys rarely go, unless they are the comic relief. Geek girls can often have the “Cinderella” dream happen and become the belle of the ball.

But that’s fiction. What about in real life?

I recently shared my prom story with the community of geekmoms and a few dared to tell about their own:

I asked the guy I liked to my prom, even though he was a junior, and my friends thought I was weird. However, I was convinced he would ask me to be his girlfriend that night…then hoped it would happen the next day. We went to NYC to see Nine Inch Nails, but couldn’t get in the club because we weren’t 21 (even though we paid for the tickets). I was so disappointed. He didn’t ask me to be his girlfriend at all that weekend, and I found out later that was because he already had a girlfriend, but thought it was fun to lead me on anyway. Damn, younger men! – ME

I went to my senior prom with a guy I had my first date with–and it was the most boring date of my life. Prom was fun though because we went with a big group of people. – “Chaos” Mandy

I went to prom with my boyfriend, who danced with my best friend’s girlfriend all night, and then married her (a couple of years later). I almost asked my future husband to that prom, but didn’t because I knew he wouldn’t dance with me (and I was still dating the other guy). I have only danced with my husband once, and it was at our wedding. – Catherine

I was on the Junior Class Council and we put together the Senior Prom. I did all the planning but ended up being gone the night of, for a vocal music competition. (Hey, I had my priorities. Prom was nice but vocal music was gonna pay for college…and it did at least a little.) My senior year I had entered my rebellious-geek, independent-feminist, power-to-the-self-cognizant stage. I vehemently protested my senior prom as yet another reason to enforce the stereotypical cliques and exclusionary processes of teens who dared to differ from the norm and refused to go. Which is good because no one asked me. But then again I had done everything but write F*** Off in black eyeliner across my forehead, so that was no surprise. Needless to say I didn’t go to prom. I went to see the newly released The Matrix: Reloaded. Looking back I laugh at my ideals then. But on the flip side, the theater was gloriously empty and I could revel in all of Neo’s “The One” glory. Jenn

I went to a senior prom when I was a junior, with a guy I’d dated on and off through high school. Really nice guy (though a bit of a mama’s boy, so glad I didn’t stay with him!). But it wasn’t really “special” since we’d broken up and were really more friends at that point. Then for my prom, I was determined to go. Mom made the dress. I ended up convincing a guy I’d grown up with in church (like a brother to me) to go with me. He as cute and all, but it was like taking my brother. I remember nothing about the dance itself (why is that?!) but do remember going to a fast food place after (in our fancy clothes) and running into my older sister. I have two older sisters, who were the glamor girls in high school, so I never had a chance. So my date ended up flirting with my sister the rest of the night. Nice, huh? So glad that life is behind me. I feel for the high school kids who are struggling through it now. I “fit” with being a grown up more than I fit with being a teenager. (Don’t we all?) – Judy

And my favorite:
Went to my junior prom with a guy who, years later, would be in the wedding party of friend of a friend…and FABULOUSLY GAY. At prom, he wouldn’t dance with me and barely spoke to me. We went to White Castle afterwards where he continued to ignore me and chewed with his mouth open… I remember a definite feeling of unprincess-ness. Didn’t go to my senior prom. Asked two guys. One was in college and told me, “Proms are high school–I’m beyond that now.” The other took my request as a good time to tell me that he had a girl friend. If memory serves, I spent the night drawing unicorns, writing reallllly bad poetry and listening to Tears for Fears. LOL: Oh, God! Not my best years… – Andrea

Did you go to you prom? If not, why? If so, what’s your story?

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37 thoughts on “Prom Night Memories: The Good, the Bad, and Tears for Fears

  1. I actually just went to my senior prom this past Saturday (yes, I know, I’m not the target age group for this site, but 😛 I’m a nerd, and a godmother, so it counts.) Anyways, the dance itself sucked, because I’m dating a boy from another school and dont have too many friends at my school (can you say awkward portion of the evening?) but, after a half hour of that torture, we went back to his house and watched the new Doctor Who episode ^_^ (it’s a Saturday night, can’t miss that!) So I’d say it was an overall win!

  2. Here’s a view from the other side of the gender gap. It was 35-plus years ago. I went to an all-boys private school; I did not know any girls well enough to sk ut on dates let alone go to a prom; I did not have a license, rarely socialized since I lived miles from anyone went to school with, and probably most importantly for a guy in that age group – was terrified of rejection. OTOH, I was not going to admit my issues to anyone, so the simplest thing to do was to skip the prom.

    Thanks to Wired, many years later I realized I had Aspergers which explains the lack of interest or comfort in large group social situations anyway.

  3. Well, I’m a geekdad not a geekmom, but I’ll comment anyway 😛

    Pretty sure for both junior and senior prom I was playing gigs with my bands at the time. I never dated much, and no one was jumping up and down to go with me to Prom, and it was really just a place for the popular kids to gush over each other so I really didn’t care.

    Being on stage playing guitar was alot more fun anyhow 🙂

  4. Geekuncle here, never went to my Jr Prom but went to the afterparty for my Senior Ball, didn’t have a date and just hung out with a few people I knew. Took some pics but nothing remarkable.

    Now over a decade later, I wish I had done something different lol

  5. I missed school the day that they announced the prom was being moved a day early. Plus, I had never driven in Dallas. When we finally got to the hotel, we were informed that the prom had been held *last night*.

    So I started driving home, got seriously lost, and ended up stopping at a liquor store that was closing to ask where we were, and how to get home. The longer I spoke to the kind Slavic gentleman, the more I picked up his accent.

    We followed him to our part of town while I did my best to shed my new accent.

    Here’s the prom night picture:

    1. What you lacked in an ability to get to the dance on the correct night, you more than made up for with your choice in awesome arm corsages 🙂 Very sweet smiles 🙂

  6. Oh, yes, I totally went to my senior prom. I wore a medieval-style burgundy dress and had blue-green hair. I went with a group of girls and we even did the whole after-party thing at Webster Hall in the city. The most memorable part for me was seeing my ex-boyfriend on my way to the prom and regretting not asking him to be my date. Other than that I don’t remember much from that night!

    1. How did you get in???! Webster Hall is where I wasn’t old enough for NIN. Damn everyone else seemed to have fake IDs except me….

      1. Nope, no fake ID — I think it was one of those “high school party” nights, because the entire place was teeming with high school kids.

  7. Prom was fun and I’m glad I went. Though thank goodness I wasn’t just with my date. Then it might have been painful *L*

  8. I spent most of high school madly and unrequitedly in love with a guy in the grade above me, and by the time I was a senior (and he had started college– I wrote him letters, but he never wrote me back), it seemed everyone else in the school knew it– and, possibly worse, they totally approved. Out of nowhere in February one of our mutual friends said she was writing to him, and would I want her to ask him if he’d go to the prom with me?

    “What?” I said.

    “I’ll take that as a yes,” she said.

    His reply was sensible: he’d be GLAD to go with me, if I’D ask him myself.

    And I totally chickened out. Our next meeting in person was totally awkward, with the whole Me-Not-Asking and Him-Waiting-For-Me-To-Ask thing. Then, for the next MONTH, we blatantly and loudly ignored each other. Pretty much a failure.

    Meanwhile, a boy I had suspected had a crush on ME for most of high school asked me. I was still reeling from my issues with my preferred boy, and really didn’t want to go to the prom anymore anyway, unless my best friends were going. My one best friend was already boycotting, but the OTHER one was obsessed with going but was having trouble finding a date (even Just Friends). So I told him, “I might, but only if Molly is going. She’s still working on it.” A few minutes later Molly comes running up to me, asking if I’d told him I’d go with him or not, so I told her what I told him. “Oh.” She paused. “Because he was my last hope for a date. He told me he’d go with me if YOU turned him down.”

    Since I didn’t really want to go, and she really really did, I let her go with him instead. No loss on my part.

    Random comment: does it bother anybody else that the Geek Girl who gets to go to the prom in stories always has to go through the inevitable MAKEOVER MONTAGE before anybody notices her? Why can’t somebody fall for her because of her OWN unique sense of style?

  9. I didn’t go to prom. I really had no desire to and it was very irritating to hear “you’ll regret it for the rest of your life if you don’t go”. It was not something that was important to me and I have never regretted my decision. I’d gone to several dances – had some good times and some not so good, I’d had amazing experiences with band & orchestra, I’d gone to sporting events, I’d won academic awards, I’d held leadership positions, etc. I felt like I had a very full high school experience and I was, quite honestly, exhausted by the time prom rolled around. I didn’t have anyone I particularly wanted to ask to go. A good friend offered to go with me but I turned him down. (I hope he didn’t take it personally.) I’m actually glad I didn’t go just because it was “expected”. My husband, OTOH, didn’t go to prom and is still kind of sad about it.

  10. I went to my Junior Prom with the cousin of my best friend. My best friend wanted to take the German foreign exchange student, but her host parents were really strict and wouldn’t let her go unless it was a double date. I was free (wasn’t planning on going), so my friend said he would get me a date and the tickets if I was part of the double.

    I got a dress from a garage sale (yeah, I really cared), and waited to be picked up. The cousin ended up being 26 years old and in the Army. He wore a really bad grey tux with tails, and a pink tie and cummerbund (didn’t really go with my cobalt blue gown). I sat at our table for every dance except the one where he went to the bathroom and I asked my geography teacher to waltz.

    Lame! It was such a nightmare, that I went stag (or the female equivalent) to my Senior Prom.

  11. Not a mom but I want to take part!

    I went to my Junior prom with a guy I had known since we were four– he liked me on and off the whole time, but I knew we were only friends; he made an awesome date though!

    I got stood up to my senior prom– no lie, even though he had asked me. I really didn’t want to go with him, but figured it was better than no date. I ended up going anyway, and ended up leaving early, going to the Relay for Life in my prom dress to hang out with a bunch of friends from my nerdy hospital class– including the guy I would date for the next six years.

  12. Junior year – Went with a girl I had absolutely no interest in. It was one if those clicquey group dates. The best part of the night was when the fire alarm went off and all the snooty rich kids were stuck outside complaining.

    Senior year – Did not go. Stayed in watching zombie movies with my group of disaffected dateless friends instead.

  13. Another prom story from the other side:

    My junior prom I went with a girl who is an avid gamer and self proclaimed Nintendo fan-girl. We spent the majority of the night talking Pokemon and Harvest Moon.

    The real fun was my senior prom. I was in rocket club (exclusively guys for no reason) and it was a few weeks before prom and none of the guys in club had dates yet. So I ventured across the hall to the school newspaper room where the staff was almost exclusively female (also, no real reason, just one of those weird H.S. things) to ask them to to be the collective dates for rocket club.

    So the rocket dweebs and the word nerds formed a giant geek group for prom. We went to a teppanyaki for dinner, made fun of the terrible decorations (under the sea theme), danced some, launched our boutonnieres on some rockets, then played some card games at the after party (massive game of King’s Court).

  14. I went to two proms. I went sophomore year with a boy I was dating who was a senior, although we broke up before prom, in a friendly way, but that was a disaster because another girl friend of his ended up hanging with us all night because her date ditched her. All my band/drama friends that year were seniors though, so we hung out.

    My Junior year I went with a friend from marching band/choir and he wore one of the chamber choir tuxedos and we just had fun.

    My senior year, my best friend was in and out of a terrible relationship and I refused to go anywhere near the prom an her drama. I went camping with Girl Scouts. 20 pre-teens seemed like a better idea than high school drama.

  15. You almost have more guys (probably from the link over at geekdad) than women responses. I’m another one.

    Junior year, two girls I barely knew and probably shouldn’t have asked both turned me down, which helped to further entrench me in my geeky invisible introversion.

    Senior year, a girl who worked in the same strip mall as I and that I visited with on breaks asked me to her prom at a different high school. She was very pretty and way over my head (my friends who also went to her high school reacted with “YOUR going to the prom with XYZ!?!?”). It was unmemorable, but getting asked by the Hot Girl (who was also pretty darned nice, too) did more for my self esteem than anything that year.

  16. I didn’t go to prom. Had a dress, had tickets, had a boyfriend, and was also 9 months pregnant. BF moved 3 days before prom 6 hours South because his mom found out his dad had been cheating. So they split, and I didn’t go to prom.

    My geek daughter however, along with a friend created their own prom called Our Prom – to be GLTB inclusive. In honor of Constance McMillan, whose prom was cancelled rather than have a Lesbian couple at it. It had an awesome Alice in Wonderland theme, the two girls made almost all of the decorations, haunting thrift stores for teapots and flowers, borrowed twinkly lights and sheets from various moms, chairs and tables from churches, got enough tickets sold ahead of time to repay themselves for renting the local dance venue, and got moms/dads to chaperon. It turned out REALLY well with quite a few gay and lesbian couples spinning on the dance floor. There were even some popular kids that turned out and said it was better than the school sponsored prom.

  17. I did the asking! I wanted to go, dammit! My date was a good friend who apparently had been secretly pining for me for 3 years. We went to prom, had a great time, and now we’re happily married with two kids… So, ya know, sometimes it works out.

  18. I didn’t go. I wanted to go with this girl, who was the very first girl I had ever fallen in love with. Her friends had told me she wasn’t planning on going, and besides, I was supposed to take this other girl, which was news to me. Turned out the second girl, whom I barely knew (she sat behind me in AP English), had been saying that I was taking her to the Prom. In the end, I waited until the last minute but the girl I truly liked and loved didn’t change her mind. After graduation we did spend a couple of memorable months together before she headed for college. This was thirty years ago, and I remember it as if it was yesterday, and I can’t remember what I had for lunch yesterday…

  19. I was asked to prom every year and never went cause my mom wouldn’t let me. The year of my actual senior prom I couldn’t afford to go (I went to school in a very wealthy area but was not remotely wealthy myself and you had to buy the tickets in pairs for $90). My boyfriend of the time was a fresh man in college. He took me out to eat at the diner and to the movies to see Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood. After the movie I distinctly remember standing outside the theater talking and having a bug fly into mouth. I called it a night not long after that.

  20. It’s fun reading the memories. I’m a geed dad but my experience was not so different from some.

    I was never interested in dating in high school, not gay, I just had a hard time with the pressure of dating and relationships in high school. I still went to prom due to peer pressure. So for junior prom I took a girl who had a thing for me, but I told her before hand that I only wanted to go as friends. She cried over that, which made me feel bad, but she went anyway. I hope she had a good enough time. We did dance and take pictures.

    For senior prom I took a girl that was ok going just as friends, but she had a bit of reputation. Over all I probably would have been better off not going to either prom, but I felt I needed to live up to everyone’s expectations. It wasn’t until after college that I became more interested in dating as I finally matured to that point.

    1. My husband was similar in that he wasn’t interested/ready for dating in high school, though he decided not to ask anyone to the proms (despite friends telling him which girls were waiting for him to ask them.) My teenage son seems to be following in those steps, not gay, just not looking for a girlfriend yet.

  21. I knew there was no way anyone I asked would say yes, so my best friend (male) and I went together and shared a limo with his brother and date. We got a wonderfully hideous photo out of it, (that’s a lot of dress and hair,) but otherwise it wasn’t much fun. He wouldn’t dance – so I ended up dancing one dance with an ex, and got slapped by his current girlfriend on the following Monday. Ah, high school drama! My date also ended up wanting to go home early, so I dropped him off and sat on a swing at a nearby park to watch the sunrise.

  22. My prom was a mixed bag of huuuge emotion. One of my closest friends died in a car accident a month before, so my motivation for going ended abruptly. I ended up grabbing a cheap dress and going with my gay best friend. We had a quiet dinner alone, sat in the parking lot of the local video store drinking Jones Soda and I tearfully slow danced with a few of my friends. We tried to turn the night around by heading back to my dad’s house and watching comedies with a few friends who were too young to go. Thankfully, I have more memories of the silly sleepover than prom itself.

  23. Slapped! Ack, high school!

    The picture of someone on a swing dressed up, watching the sunrise is very romantic (in the non-lovey-dovey sort of way.)

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