My husband Andrew’s 39th birthday was right around the corner. My reputation precedes me, as I am known for being lots of fun, rather unpredictable, but never ever boring. I personally take this as a compliment and work very hard to continue to earn this at every chance I get. I’ve gotten used to the undeniable fear in everyone’s eyes when I say, “I’ve got the greatest idea!”
For his birthday this year, I was in the mood to outdo myself. After much consideration, I decided to throw him a prom-themed surprise 40th birthday. He was only turning 39. Wouldn’t he be surprised? Who else would do that? I loved it!
I rallied my closest friends, AKA my partners in crime. One of their husbands was an amateur photographer. After all, what’s a prom without pictures? The caterers I hired were instructed to only serve hamburgers, hotdogs, french fries, onion rings, milkshakes served with two straws, a variety of sodas and Egg Creams made to order. The DJ was given very strict instructions: under no circumstances was he allowed to play records produced later than 1968.
The hall was decorated with strands of twinkling Christmas lights everywhere! Shiny helium-filled balloons, multicolored streamers and a glittery, rotating silver ball, reflecting all the light, hung in the middle of the dance floor. Obviously, no one on this decorating committee had ever heard, “Less is sometimes more.” It looked so tacky: it was perfect.
I located a costume store that had a selection of 60’s prom dresses for rent. After rummaging through boxes of old pictures in the attic, I found a picture of him and the girl he took to his prom, and right there on the rack was the same colored dress. If only I had pictures of our faces when we tried them on. We laughed so hard, tears were literally streaming down our faces. At least I think it was because we were laughing so hard, and not from crying. But if I were you, I wouldn’t bet the farm on it. Let’s just say, they were special. What were we thinking back then?
I showed my hairdresser the picture of his prom date, and as luck would have it, she lent me a wig in the exact same color and style seen in the picture. This was too good! Without glasses, I kind of, sort of looked like her. A theater prop rental warehouse even had the most incredibly ostentatious large red velvet King and Queen chairs you could imagine. This whole event was coming together better than I even dared to hope for.
I did make one concession, however: there was a wet bar-set up off to the side, offering libations to loosen up anybody’s inhibitions. And loosen them up it did! The last detail was a tricky one. We lived in a very small town and everybody knows everything about everyone. Keeping a secret was no easy undertaking. I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t witnessed it for myself, but no one said a word, not even my four boys.
The night of the prom, three of his best friends came into our bedroom, and when he got out of the shower, handed him the garment bag they were carrying. It had a cummerbund and bowtie that matched the color of my dress, and made him change into it. Then off they went in the car. He still had no idea what was going on.
Did I mention the color of my dress? I called it “Babies First Summer”: a yellowish greenish, definitely a color you either love or hate. I am not a big fan. I immediately changed into the dress. I took one last glance in the mirror and let’s just say, under any other circumstances I wouldn’t have been caught dead in this outfit. But tonight, I was gonna take one for the team, or in this case, the theme, and off I went.
All the guests had already arrived and were waiting in the hall when I got there. They all looked perfectly horrible. Most of the husbands had bought their wives matching wrist corsages. When they brought Andrew into the hall, I was hiding in the closet. He immediately asked where I was, and with that, I came bursting through the door with my wig, wearing the same colored dress and a name tag with her name on it.
He started to laugh and I think he was now slowly starting to understand what was going on here. He later told me he was really glad we were all dressed in costumes from back in 1967, otherwise, all of our friends needed a major wardrobe adjustment. Did I mention the whole event was videotaped? The chaperones were my “bestie” and her 6-foot 6-inch husband from Chicago. Their hysterical attire was the antithesis of any gym teacher or principal you have ever seen. She stuffed her dress and looked like a well-fed bag lady living on the street, and he looked like Herman Munster.
We did it all, including crowning the King and Queen. Of course, Andrew was King and the gym teacher was Queen. Their first dance was memorable! She tripped him (on purpose), he fell to the ground and she jumped on top of him.
Names were picked from a basket for the dance contest. A speech (actually, more of a roast) was delivered by the illustrious class president. He was one of our best friends, and I can assure you what happened on “boy’s night out” did not stay in “boy’s night out” during the speech. Andrew would have been so grounded!
When the DJ announced the last dance, balloons fell from the ceiling. Remember, I am not making any of this up, and I have the video to prove it. I can’t tell you how right on target everybody behaved. They acted like they were in high school, the boys were pushing and shoving and laughing. The girls congregated in the bathroom, putting on more makeup, teasing their hair and teenage bantering. It was a major grand slam evening for everyone in attendance.
The food servers, bartenders and DJ said they enjoyed watching every minute. I sarcastically asked, “Why was that?” They all enthusiastically agreed that they enjoyed watching everybody every minute. I looked at them straight-faced and said, “I have no idea what you’re talking about, that’s always the way we behave.” They looked nervous for a second until they saw the smirky smile on my face, and I winked before I walked away.
I don’t remember being as tired the night of my prom as I was right then. I only have two things left to say: First, I had my fingers crossed that every one of those guys got lucky that night! And by the time Andrew and I went upstairs to our room to change for bed, I asked him, “Did I forget anything to make this night any more special?” Without hesitating for one second he answered, “Just one.” He’s my greatest critic, but the only thing I cared about was pleasing that night. I was afraid to ask, but I really wanted to know, so I hesitantly asked, “What’s that?” He turned to face me, our eyes locked and he whispered, “Could you wear that wig to bed tonight?”