The gigantic, heavy wrecking ball, swinging pendulously tethered to the high end of a far-reaching crane, impacted the aged brick wall with a resounding “thud,” breaking though mortar and fired clay, scattering particles and chunks, and raising accumulated ages of dust as the wall began tumbling and rumbling down! Joshua’s Horn, at the fabled Battle of Jericho, couldn’t have been more effective or produced as much joy in our hearts as we watched that symbolic nemesis crumble before our eyes.
I would suppose there are those who lament the loss of an old building, especially a building purportedly once dedicated to the arts practiced and promulgated by such notables as Socrates and American educators Horace Mann and John Dewey. This institution of learning, the public school (not specifically the particular building we were watching slowly disappear into a pile of rubble), founded in part by the passage of the “Old Deluder Satan” Act in the American British Colonies years before, was a boon and a bane to both parents and students alike, depending on their experiences while they were “institutionalized” in those edifices of learning.
As the “thudding” and “thumping” of the wrecking ball continued its unrelenting hammering of brick and concrete, we looked about at the small gathering of some of our fellow alumni, here, as were we, to celebrate our twenty-fifth year as graduates from this august institution – Stanford Consolidated High School. There were, glistening some of the faces of those more sentimental members, tears, revealing their nostalgia concerning the loss of the place evidently so dear to them. Moans and groans of voiced remembrances were aired as each person voiced some remembered important or seemingly significant event they’d experienced while in this particular high school.
I wondered, as I perused the clusters of people and listened to their comments, if some really ever left high school but were spending their adult years re-living experiences they could never have again; the past holding more significance to them than the present or the future? Were they still, in their own minds fantasy, the football hero, the basketball hotshot, the head cheerleader, or the most popular girl in the Senior Class?
The gymnasium walls were now being attacked by several large bulldozers and another crane with a claw-type gadget attached to its arm. The bulldozers pushed and the crane’s arm clawed debris aside so more could be pushed toward it. Each brick, each stick of wood, and each “crunch” of rubble being mashed down by the dozers has significance for the two of us. It was this gymnasium where I presented my ticket for the first and last Junior-Senior Prom I intended taking my lover, my date to. We were both seniors and would be graduating in another week or so and moving on to the university together.
The tickets were being sold three dollars for single persons and five dollars for couples. I paid my five dollars in the high school office two weeks before, received my ticket, and we were ready. The night of the Prom, our flowers in place, well sated by the delicious pre-Prom dinner we’d consumed at an out-of-town restaurant and a delightfully star-filled and moon-bright evening brought an almost magically quality to our evening together. From the parking lot, upon our arrival, we could hear the music wafting from the interior of the gym as the dance band played easy, danceable music to those already gathered inside. We’d arrived “fashionably late,” not desiring to be either the first or the last through the door.
A quick kiss and hug and we walked up to the front gym entrance. The two teachers who were the class sponsors were stationed at the door to greet students, take tickets, and supposedly keep drunks and other undesirables from intruding on the gala festivities inside. I presented our ticket to one of the teachers; she looked at it, smiled and asked, “Craig, where’s your date? This ticket is for a couple!”
I smiled in return, pulled Danny closer to me, and answered, “Here!”
“Oh dear!” she coughed and then whispered something to the other teacher who scooted away, evidently on some dire mission. Turning back to us, she tried smiling again, but failed, before she asked politely, “Would you please wait to the side while I take care of those behind you?” and busied herself letting other students through. Those that passed us looked curiously at the two of us standing there and some, with certain recognition of what was happening, muttered derisive and uncomplimentary remarks in our direction.
It seemed like only moments until the high school principal made his usual pompous appearance, smiled at us rather absently I thought, stepped up to the teacher and asked, “What seems to be the problem?”
“Well,” she explained, “Craig has a ‘couples’ ticket and his date is ……ah….Daniel,” and pointed to him. Danny smiled in return, very non-aggressively and innocently.
“I see,” he noted to her, turned to us and explained apologetically, “I’m sorry boys, but the ‘couples’ ticket is intended for a boy and a girl couple, not a boy and a boy couple. Now, if you want to pay an extra dollar and enter separately and not as a couple, I will allow you to do that.”
“I don’t think I’ll do that, sir,” I announced quietly.
Danny smiled again, taking up the cause, this time to the principal and explained, in an equally quiet but determined voice, “The signs for the Prom tickets said, ‘five dollars a couple’ and we’ve been a ‘couple’ for several years of high school; you just weren’t aware of it! It didn’t say, “boy and girl couples only, did it?”
“Oh my God!” the principal moaned in dismay.
Danny and I had been in love since we were in ninth grade and, since we lived in a small conservative community in a very conservative state, we kept our love deeply, and I mean deeply, closeted to spare us the harassment, bullying, and attempts to “convert” us from our “deviant” behavior to a “normal” life. We were all expected, in our community, to be God-fearing, righteous, Christian boys and girls who eschewed the temptations of the flesh and the snares of the Devil. That may be what was preached on Sunday and given lip-service by others in public and at home, but it certainly wasn’t saving all of us, if it were to be known by the general public half of the basketball team was fucking the cheerleaders and some of the after-game parties were just excuses to smoke some pot, drink booze to excess, and fuck every girl that came willingly, or unwillingly for that matter, in the door!
No, that seemed to be “just kids sowing their wild oats” to which the majority of the community closed their eyes, remembering their own high school days or perhaps their own current relationships, who knows? But two boys going together to the Prom or dancing while there or kissing and Heavens to Betsy, actually inserting a penis into the mouth or anus of another boy in private? How disgusting – no, no,- that just wouldn’t do; albeit plenty of the men in town and other boys in high school had more than one circle jerk or mutual jack-off session in their lives, but that doesn’t count, does it?
Our love developed through friendship at school, to doing things together, and eventually spending more time outside of school in each other’s company. It was a “rush to the bedroom and fuck your brains out” type of beginning; more feeling comfortable around each other, feeling like something was missing in yourself when the other was not present, and eventually, that first, hesitant, and suddenly rewarding kiss! It wasn’t until the end of our junior year in high school when, one weekend when my folks were gone and Danny slept over we actually “did it” and found it the ultimate expression of our love for each other. We discovered Danny liked to receive and I liked to give, so it was perfect as far as we were concerned.
Our decision to attend the Prom was made approximately a month earlier when Danny was spending the weekend with me. Our lovemaking was intense and my still stiff prick was just finishing flushing the remnants of my seed into him when Danny, relaxing from his own shuddering orgasm, sighed saying, “You know what I wish, Craig?”
“That I could do this again and again and again, right?”
“No, you silly goose,” he giggled tipping his head and looking at me. “I wish we could go to the Prom like other kids do! It’s our senior year of high school and I really want to dance with you and enjoy the evening with my boyfriend like all of the other couples do.”
Oh boy! I pulled out, turned him so we were face to face, wrapped my arms around him, kissed him, and while nuzzling his soft neck, asked, “Do you think they’ll let us do that?”
“We can try,” he pleaded.
“And if they kick our ass out of the dance?”
“At least we tried,” he said with some satisfaction.
Hell, I’d do anything for the guy I loved; we were more than lovers, we were our own family, only infinitely more familiar and intimate than our biological families were with us, except when we were infants. I knew every little bump and vein on that most precious appendage of his as he was of mine; the exact spot to hit within him when we made love that brought him to climax the same time I erupted; and his every quirk, habit, likes and dislikes. God, I loved him so (and still do)!
“What will your parents say, Danny?”
“They’ll shit a brick that’s for certain but they can’t tell me who I can love! How about your’s?”
I thought a moment and replied, “I honestly don’t know.”
Hugging him again, I asked, “You really want this don’t you?”
“Yeah!” he replied, pulling my face to his until our lips met, our mouths opened, and our tongues began their own sensuous dance.
I acquiesced; “Okay, I’ll get the ticket as soon as they go on sale.”
Maneuvering so he was on his back and I was nestled between his legs, he grinned and murmured lovingly to me, “Do me again, but face to face.”
It was his favorite position so how could I refuse?
I purchased our ticket, five dollars for a couple, and we prepared to go to our Prom. We said not one word to our parents, except to say “we were going;” didn’t say as a couple, only we were going.
The principal seemed taken aback when he confronted us and heard Danny’s justification and my refusal to pay any more for admittance since I’d already paid in advance for a ticket.
The principal rubbed his chin in thought and finally said, “If that’s the case, Daniel and Craig, I can’t allow you admittance. The ticket purchased was for a couple and a couple, in our view and I think in view of our community, means a boy and a girl. If you refuse to pay the extra dollar, then I’ll have to ask you to leave. I will make an exception and refund your five dollars however.”
Danny was clearly disappointed, but I was just plain angry at the principal’s lack of understanding and the balls to take up the challenge of taking our part. It wasn’t a surprise to me since I’d anticipated the refusal since I bought the ticket. Yet, a little part of me hoped it would not occur.
“No need to put yourself out,” I responded, “I’m certain the school needs the five dollars more than we do; perhaps to do something charitable with, although I doubt that’d happen.”
I reached over, kissed a very tearful Danny (yeah right in front of everyone), took his hand, and we walked out of the gym to the parking lot. Standing next to my car, I hugged him close to me and felt his soft sobs of rejection and sorrow against my chest.
“Why, Craig?” he sobbed.
The only answer I had for him was bigotry, prejudice, and ignorance sprinkled with a great deal of negative propaganda concerning same sex couples and homosexuals in general. As I held him, I realized I was also rocking him side to side in time with the music from the gym, so I started to dance with my boyfriend; not in the gym, but in the parking lot.
As we danced, Danny finally looked up and smiled, understanding our Prom was in the school parking lot. We danced until the set was over and the band took a break, kissed each other, and went home.
It didn’t take long for the word to circulate around town concerning the two queer boys who showed up at the Prom and tried to enter as a couple. My folks said nothing, but became very standoffish. Danny’s folks weren’t quite so understanding or tolerant; they tossed him out of the house! He had no place else to go so he came to my house and moved in. Again, my parents were quiet and made no objection or gave permission for him to be there.
We kept a low profile during that last week of school. We only had to be in attendance to take our final exams so interaction with other students was relatively minimal. Oh, there were a few remarks tossed our way such as “queers” and “fudge-packers” while we were in the halls, but nothing physical. There were rumors we wouldn’t be allowed to graduate, but nothing came of it. We were generally ostracized by our fellow students and many members of our community. While my folks attended the graduation ceremonies, Danny’s did not.
College was a struggle for us since the only financial support we received was from some government loans, a couple of grants, and what we could earn summers and part-time jobs during the year, but we made it. When we graduated, we moved to another state and when same sex marriage was legalized, we married.
Dan and I soon grew tired of watching the old building being reduce rubble. The new high school, constructed nearby, would be open for guided tours the next day, if anyone wanted to take them. Tonight, however, was the dinner-dance and program for alumni at a relatively new supper club which had a large semi-private dining area and small dance floor. As we left the demolition site, it occurred to me of those former classmates who stood there with us watching, not one greeted us or acknowledged our presence. They behaved as though we weren’t even present.
“Things haven’t changed much, have they?” Danny said wistfully.
“Did you expect them to?” I answered.
“No, not really,” he sighed, “but one can always hope.”
Danny’s folks never did reconcile themselves to having a gay son or his relationship with me. In fact, they avoided us completely. I know it hurt Dan tremendously, but he still sent Christmas and birthday cards and signed them from both of us. His brother and sister weren’t so rigid and kept in contact, although they never came for a visit. My parents never got beyond acknowledging Dan and I were “buddies” or good friends; never that we were married or had been in a relationship for years.
Danny started to laugh as we drove back to our motel.
“What’s so funny?” I asked.
“Do you suppose some of those bigots we graduated with will still express shock when the music starts and they see two gay guys who are married, step out and dance?
I joined in the laugh and finally snorted, “Does shit stink?
Thank you for reading “Prom Night.”
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