¨Everyone just did what they wanted the way they wanted to do it,¨ Razor claimed. ¨It was less uniform then. If a kid wants to have pink hair, let him have pink hair!¨ Maybe Razor was remembering the ´80s through rose-colored glasses, but it was a common misconception; a lot of tonight´s celebrants had, like Ashley, pink, red, and otherwise unconventional hair. Razor´s buddy Al sported a Mohawk, set off by tribal tattoos on each side of his scalp, making him almost seven feet tall. He´d fixed his style in place with ¨an old punk rock secret¨: Elmer´s Glue.
Another friend of Razor´s stepped forward bravely. Dressed in a Patriots jersey and a pair of jeans, he declared, ¨I´m Mork from Ork,¨ evidently hoping the simple declaration would suffice as a costume.
¨Nanu, nanu!¨ I said, extending my hand, fingers spread Orkian style. The pretender looked at me blankly.
¨Yeah, she´s right!¨ Razor exclaimed, finally accessing his banks of cultural trivia to corroborate the accuracy of my greeting.
Nearby, Colleen, a 1983 graduate of Hialeah Miami Lakes, sported the Culture Club look, topped off with a black hat with a band full of buttons -- acquired, she said, when she worked at Yesterday & Today record store. That was when ¨today¨ was back in the day, she said, adding that she had no prom memories to share.
¨I wasn´t that popular, and I never went,¨ she said. ¨Now, I can hang out with my friends, so it´s a lot more fun.¨
While Duran Duran and Blondie summoned bodies in all manner of poofy-sleeved and shoulder-padded glory, I decided to check out the back patio, where a couple of guys were bonding in a timeless male tradition -- by assaulting each other. One of them was holding his crotch and rolling on the paver stones.
¨It´s OK,¨ a friend who stood observing his friend´s agony reassured me. ¨We´re roommates.¨
The injured party, pulling himself to his feet only to lean against a cement wall, his hand still cradling the family jewels, suggested a truce. ¨Buy me a shot!¨ he croaked.
¨You started it,¨ the apparent ball-buster said.
¨OK, I´ll buy you a shot,¨ the friend said.
Like that, it was settled -- the two walked off, one with a bit of a limp. Just like Reagan and Gorbachev.
We all make our accommodations. I still haven´t forgiven the ´80s for some of its musical transgressions (though I´ve learned to live with some of them). One of those transgressions was being re-inflicted at that very moment.
¨And it was all over when they started playing Journey,¨ I summed up for Douglas, a guy I´d been chatting with about his art forgery career.
He agreed. ¨Yes, Steve Perry was the beginning of the end.¨
But when David Bowie beckoned with ¨Let´s Dance,¨ it seemed as good a time as any to get out on the checkered dance floor, where Ashley had spent the entire evening making friends with some club regulars. I soon realized that my body no longer knew how to move to the dated music. I just flailed and bounced -- sort of like a spastic jumping jack -- until the song was over.
Ashley said she had a similar problem. ¨How did ´80s people dance? They didn´t exactly pop, lock, and drop it, you know?¨
We watched people slow-dancing to ¨Total Eclipse of the Heart.¨ A lesbian couple would have been my pick for Prom King and Queen. Not only because they´d dressed the part -- one in a Siouxsie and the Banshees off-shoulder T and a crinoline skirt that flared as her partner, in a tux shirt and vest and plaid punk pants, spun her -- but because they truly seemed to be living the romantic ideal of the prom. Theirs was a connection you could feel, from the romantic step-and-sway embrace of the slow songs to the energetic connection of their synth-pop bop.
Without romantic partners, some of us had nothing to do but watch the ice melt in our drinks and comment on one another´s outfits -- another timeless prom tradition. Of course, it wouldn´t have been a prom without some hormonally charged spit-swapping and groping attempts at heavy petting. A couple of red brocade couches were being used for that purpose by several couples, this time without the interference of a busy-body chaperone.
All in all, it had turned out to be an inspired evening -- better than either prom I actually attended a couple of decades ago. Before Ashley and I left, we posed for a photo beneath the balloon arch. And then, we were ready to shed our roles as members of some graduating class, like teenagers stepping out of their prom dresses.