Thursday, May 28, 2020

Dancer at his Dance

I heard from a friend in California who told me about the saddest thing he'd seen during the pandemic. He drove past the empty parking lot of a defunct Kmart and saw a lone parked car. Near it, a graduating high school senior in cap and gown was dancing by himself, his very own senior prom.

I'm not sure a kid missing his prom is sadder than the deaths of 100,000 people in this country alone and, anyway, I look at the event differently. I see it as an inventive response to a situation over which, otherwise, the lad has little control. He adapted to the situation of no official prom by devising his own which, to me, is an impressive act of both defiance and affirmation. I like to think he also informed other classmates so they could all dance together at the same time, in their own spaces, to create a moment of true solidarity in the face of a changing and changed world.

At any rate, my own high school prom back in 1969 was actually pathetic. As a severely-closeted gay kid in the Texas Panhandle, I only attended the prom at my parents' insistence, and “with a nice girl, please.” Actually, I didn't know any other kind. So there we were, dancing with each other while casting longing glances at the ones we really wanted to be with. Now, that's pathetic. And I lacked the imagination, and the courage, to dance by myself in an empty parking lot at Kmart.