“Liz, the tulle is folded the wrong way. You folded it the wrong way. Flip it over. We might have to use this again for a show.”
I sweated and nodded, accepting my task and proceeding to re-do all of the event decor breakdown work I had been steadily engrossed in at in the Melbourne Auditorium. It was the night of my junior Prom – sea-themed – and I was in sweatpants.
Our theatre director took great unearned pride in also presiding over all Prom and Homecoming events. Thus, as any tyrannical ruler would have it, if you wanted to get good parts in shows and work your way to a coveted officer position, you had to drag yourself to help him set up and break down these shoddily-decorated dances. Yes – even if you yourself were not going to said dance.
My poor father had to listen to my pleas to drive me all the way to Prom at midnight, when it was scheduled to end, knowing that he was not in fact driving his daughter to “Prom”, but to manual labor that meant nothing. I was originally supposed to get a ride from a fellow theatre girl, but she decided, “Ya know what, I might actually go to Prom.”
So there we were. In the car, silent, disappointment hanging like tulle in the air. Why was I so desperate to impress this exploitative high school theatre director? I had to be President. That’s why. Dad just didn’t understand!
I arrived just in time for the last dance. No makeup, sweatpants, a baggy theatre festival t-shirt from sophomore year that read “If you can’t handle the heat, get out of my spotlight!” Standing there before my dolled up peers, watching them make memories and me begin to stack chairs.
Not only was my folding technique critiqued by previously mentioned theatre girl’s mother, but I left my purse in the auditorium. I realized this in the car ride home and did not say a word. I had put my dad through enough.
Covered in sawdust and sweat and confusion about how my 17-year-old life had turned out like this, I stumbled in to the dark house and instead of turning left for my bedroom, turned right for my twin sister’s. I woke her up and disregarded her protesting as I climbed my sticky, tearful self under her covers and told her, “I just need to be near someone.” She eventually gave in and we fell asleep, instantly transporting our sisterhood back to the good old days of sharing a room.
I did have to break the purse news to my dad the next morning, and he was furious. But alas, he drove all the way back to goddamn Melbourne Auditorium again, still not for his daughter’s Prom but for his daughter’s mistake.
Next year, I drove myself.