Trial Balloon

The Peanut Butter Prom

Posted at 5:23 AM on March 30, 2010 by Radio Heartlander (39 Comments)
Filed under: Guest Bloggers

From the Desk of the Heartlanders
Guest Blogger - Clyde

High school teachers are usually assigned extra duties, some more onerous than others, especially advising the junior class, which means supervising the junior-senior prom and banquet. 1971 was my turn to be head junior class advisor with John as assistant advisor. The class of 1972 was about the best group of people I ever taught, so it was a lucky year to draw. They actually raised most of the money their sophomore year.

Finally, it was the night when the banquet was held and then a couple of hours later the prom in the same space. John and I supervised 25 students taking down the banquet and setting up the prom. When the task was done, six young ladies were left talking to me, whom I shall call the "beautiful six," all of whom were on my yearbook staff. John said to them, "Don't you girls have to go get ready for the prom?" They told him they had not been asked. For the rest of the night as we chaperoned the prom without incident, John kept saying "Oh to be 17 and have my pick of those six girls." I finally told him when we were 17 we would have barely noticed any one of them. He replied, "Yeah, I was that stupid." They were indeed six beautiful young women who were also smart, verbal, assertive, and intimidating to the slower-maturing boys. This is a long-running tale of woe for such girls, who were so often on my yearbook staff.

But the "beautiful six" had a rare leader, whom I shall give the alias of "Mary." You will see in a bit why I am hiding her name. While they were talking to me, Mary decided they should get their revenge on the world; she had a plan. At Monday evening yearbook I heard the story. They got a big jar of peanut butter and went downtown to where the Moose and the Legion were across the street from each other surrounded by the cars of their patrons. The "beautiful six" put peanut butter on the inside of all of the driver's side door handles. They sat parked in an alley with a good view and watched in glee as people in various states of inebriation came out, put their hands on the handles, and reacted, trying to decide exactly what it was. But suddenly they saw a police car coming down the alley behind them. They were sure they were busted, but they were going to play it cool. Carefully and slowly they pulled out and drove away in front of the cops, at which point they noticed the peanut butter jar sitting boldly in the rear window. Of course, the cops were just cruising and not after them.

"Mary" is now a Minnesota high-ranking state senator; another is a school principal in St. Paul; two have very important medical careers; one has been a very successful writer. The five who have chosen to marry have made very successful mothers and wives.

Beautiful, smart, and mature at seventeen,
They worry and fret that by boys they are ignored.
They are caught at a place in between.
Sure they are lacking, out of their hearts is poured,
fear that by boys and then men they will never be seen.

I tell them it's the silly and young who will be lost.
When finally among men they will be found
To have an attraction profound.
That being who they are is worth the cost.
But for now by their emotions they are tossed;
Until one day they bring a partner to prove my words sound.

What is your prom story?

Comments (39)

Clyde , I too was in the class of "72.....I went to an all girls' school so we did all the asking. I asked a platonic friend from public school who was impressed to be part of an event at a fancy private school.While rushing around getting things ready for my sister and me, my mother broke her foot. There was a delay in her leaving for the hospital with all the preparations and waiting for a babysitter for the little kids. Finally she was ready to go, but my date pulled into the drveway. I quickly threw on my borrowed coat and just about shoved him onto the porch, He meanwhile was trying to talk to my parents and assure then that he would bring me home on time. They looked strained but said nothing about the foot. When we got outside he said,
I agreed to this because you said you'd act like a lady...." It was fun and we still exchange Christmas cards or at least his wife and I do.

Posted by Beth-Ann | March 30, 2010 6:11 AM

I have an anti-prom story. I was in high school about the same time as your story. Clyde (class of 74). But my class and the two classes that graduated before me were just not interested in doing what everyone else had always done before. We thought that the chaperoned dances of our predecessors was just too bourgeouis (sp?) to be borne, so we didn't have any during my sophomore or junior years. No Sadie Hawkins, no sock-hops, no prom. Then during my senior year, the junior class revolted and decided they wanted to reinstate proms. So they raised the money and put on the prom for the senior class that year. A boy did ask me, my mother was thrilled to buy me a dress. As I recall, we were at the prom for about an hour, didn't dance and when we got to the "after hours" party, there was smoking and drinking, so I asked my date to take me home. It was so much hype for so much nothing in my book. My only regret is that because of my anti-prom experiences, my poor teenage daughter has a mother who will probably not be thrilled to buy her a dress when the time comes!

Very nice start to the day... Clyde!

Posted by sherrilee | March 30, 2010 6:13 AM

Good Morning to All,

I had no skill for asking a girl of any kind to a prom or even for dating when I was in high school, so I wouldn't have been one of those who slighted girls like the beautiful six. I just didn't go. I did manage to find a wife and get married, but didn't even do much dating in college.

I have two daughters, so I know a little about problems girls have with going to the prom. The whole prom thing seems like it needs to be changed along with other aspects of social life in high school such as the divide between the popular kids and those who are not.

As Clyde pointed out, some of the young people who don't get dates or fit in with the popular crowd, end up as leaders latter in life. Also, some of the popular ones who were good at playing popularity games in high school, find that these skills don't carry over into their adult life.

Posted by Jim | March 30, 2010 6:15 AM

Great blog entry!

Fortunately I was not required, when I was a high school teacher, to help plan or supervise prom!

My students were often boys who were computer geeks. They had something in common with those 6 girls, though, in that the girls in the high school could rarely see past their apparent lack of good looks to take note of what interesting, intelligent young men many of them were.

Have a great day, all!

Posted by elinor | March 30, 2010 6:21 AM

a beautiful story and poem, Clyde - thanks.
i was cute, not beautiful, and trained to flirt and be popular by my Mother. (i can still hear her admonishing me if i wasn't doing what she thought i should "get going or you'll be left sucking hind teat!!") so i'm not proud to say i went to proms from freshman year thru senior. i'm trying to think if we had any girls who were not afraid to be themselves in HS. took us awhile to wake up - i probably didn't until my late 20s,
cheers to your beautiful six, Clyde.
out to check on the kiddos and milk Dream. we are still cautious over (tentatively named until their new owner decides) Dodger's buckling "Loki" and doeling "Dancer." i saw their brother yesterday "Mischief" and he seems pretty good.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | March 30, 2010 6:25 AM

Good topic, Claude, but I can't thank you for reminding me of my high school dating career, which was a real shop of horrors.

I believe I went to two proms. The first was a Christmas thing. I should have seen how it would turn out when, in my nervousness, I brushed my teeth with Brylcreem. When applied orally, believe me, "a little dab'll do ya!"

At the prom, someone bumped into the 12-foot tall Christmas tree, which swayed drunkenly and fell. This guy caught the tree and then was stuck holding it until someone dumber than he came dancing by. When I passed him, he offered to let me hold the tree. And there I was stuck. The thing was full of fragile glass balls so I was afraid to put it down. I spent the evening holding that tree instead of sweet Susie Stoever, and I went home with no lipstick smudges but but jacket just covered with glass angel hair.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | March 30, 2010 6:30 AM

oh, Elinor - yes. i think it was much worse for those guys that weren't handsome football players. easier to be smart, but certainly a difficult time. and yes, Jim. i agree that those skills are not the things that help us in later life. should be an interesting day.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | March 30, 2010 6:31 AM

As for the proms of my youth... I have a story worth sharing. My friend from French and German classes decided to go to one prom with his boyfriend. At the time, it simply hadn't been done. National news crews showed up in our town, and jokes were made about the matching tuxes of my friend and his date on national television. At the time, I was used to this friend's ways and didn't think much of it. The media all focused on the particulars that made him seem as if he were gaining attention of the sake of gaining attention. After there was Google, I googled for this friend and found his name throughout many documents chronicling gay rights. He had spoken maturely and with passion on the topic of human rights and justice as a teenager, but he was never quoted in the popular media for his eloquence.

Posted by elinor | March 30, 2010 6:42 AM

Oh dear me. Yesterday I was forced to realize that I may not be as cool as I've always thought and today it's apparent that cute and popular girls, like Barb and me, border on stupid. Wasn't Sarah Palin extremely popular in HS?

Great story and poem, Clyde.

Posted by Donna | March 30, 2010 6:54 AM

Greetings! No internet for the past few days, but now I'm back! Ah, high school prom ... I loved the pageantry and promise of prom and would have loved to have ANY guy ask me. Alas, no boys asked me and I was NOT cute, charming or flirtatious. Just tall, socially inept, thick glasses and a bad stutter.

I hated to miss out, so I helped out with beverages or went with friends. Luckily, my 4 older sisters had dresses I could wear (they went to different school, so dresses were not seen before!). I just loved to get out there and dance. During slow dances, I yearned for some boy to dance with me. I graduated in '76 so we almost didn't have prom either (how conformist!). But the cheerleaders and jocks made sure it happened (sorry for stereotypical generalizations of people), thank goodness.

We all play our roles in high school. Thank God we all grow out of it. But I certainly feel for The Beautiful Six -- although I'm not like them at all -- just felt the same way.

Posted by Joanne in Big Lake | March 30, 2010 7:25 AM

back at 9

Posted by tim | March 30, 2010 7:37 AM

Okay, Donna and Barb, and any other attractive people who might have been popular in high school, I think you also might not have been treated fairly at times. The unattractive or unpopular had their problems, but every one seems to find high school life to be difficult in some ways. I think attractive people are often treated as if they don't have any brains, when this isn't really true.

Posted by Jim | March 30, 2010 7:41 AM

I didn't go to the prom, but it was by choice. I don't dance and I didn't want to waste the money on an impractical dress that would only be worn once before being donated to Salvation Army. I've been a bridesmaid enough times to know that this is the truth. My friends went and had fun, but from what they told me, the after-prom was even better. It was put on by our school (thus, it was drug-free), and you could win prizes and play games and do karaoke. I kind of wish I had gone to that (you didn't have to go to prom to go), but I had fun hanging with my friends who also chose not to go to prom :)

Posted by Alanna in MI | March 30, 2010 7:42 AM

I was in high school in the 80s, and by that time it was perfectly acceptable for the girls to do the asking - or at least it was okay in my group of geeks and nerds. Junior prom I asked a friend (not the guy I was dating) because I was sure he would behave himself. He did, but he also refused to dance. Senior year I asked a friend of a friend who I knew would dance - he was a lovely date (even if I did ditch him at Perkins post-prom), and was willing to go for a picnic rather than an expensive dinner that neither of us could afford.

I also taught my friend Ken to polka at our senior prom. He had just asked me for the next dance, which turned out to be a polka requested by one of the teachers. I gave him the basics, and away we went. By the end or the song, there were a lot of students out there with us - even the really cool kids.

Posted by Anna | March 30, 2010 7:45 AM

Cool story, Clyde. I wasn't beautiful, but might have been one of a Relatively Attractive Six. A platonic friend and I decided to go to prom together for the experience, and were glad we did till we were sitting around a bonfire in the wee hours, the only couple who wasn't necking.

Prom has changed - there are limos and other extravagance now that wasn't there in 1966. But I love it that groups go together if they want to.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 30, 2010 7:57 AM

"There are a thousand stories to be told in the Naked City. This is only one of them . . " Is that how the quote went, for any who are old enough to remember? Please do not think this is the only point of veiw on high school dating and the prom that I could tell. Yes, there were lots of cute and assertive girls who went to the prom, etc. I was only telling the story of many young ladies who go through this. I do not think it is the end of the world for them; I think it is on the whole good for them. They are the "Ophelias" who do not need to be "revived." I guess I think that is the point of my story. The sad stories are the short pudgy unathletic socially-inept kids of average intelligence who never do find a niche. One named Krystal--real name--haunts me.
I had included the story of a younger sister of one of these six who indeed went to the prom and was also a yearbook editor, cheerleader, etc. But Dale and I decided to cut it. It is only that somehow I, a male yearbook advisor, became for years the counselor to young ladies who would not adapt to the image of what boys wanted in a date. I love the movie "Juno" for a portrayal of a storng-minded young lady in high school.
Give me my druthers and the prom would have died when I was in high school. Lots of stories. Lots.
I was expecting you too also pick up on the prank.

Posted by Cly de Advsiore | March 30, 2010 8:06 AM

I want also to comment on the word "beautiful." I have for years not been able to separate physical beauty from intelligence, soul, energy, sensitivity, etc. I guess I meant beauty that way more than physically. But John's reaction to the young ladies, none of whom he would have known and who was prone to notice physical beauty (art teacher) tells me they were also physically attractive. Two came to visit my wife and I at Christmas this year. What a treat, and still how attractive!! Very young 55.

Posted by Cly de blowger | March 30, 2010 8:16 AM

Because Clyde and Dale don't seem like rule-bound guys, I hope they don't mind my jumping in here OT with two quick movie recommendations. Netflix has both.

"The Japanese Story" (Australian film) might be the most moving film I've seen.

"The Girl From Paris" (French, natch) is not as powerful but it makes up for that with goats! A young woman leaves the cities to go raise goats and has a mixed experience. Best goat film I know.

Segue back to proms . . I had my first kiss after the senior prom. I was so nervous I dove in for a quick kiss, not having practiced. We clunked teeth hard enough we saw stars for minutes afterward. She's now an email buddy.

Posted by Steve in Saint Paul | March 30, 2010 8:18 AM

Wish I knew of a good prom prank, Clyde... best I can come up with is fictional, the Ya-Yas skinny dipping in the town's water tank. (See The Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells).

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 30, 2010 8:26 AM


Thanks Clyde for the story and sharing your memories.

I didn't attend any of my proms back in the 80's... I wasn't interested and didn't dance either. And didn't date until just after I graduated...
But I took my girlfriend to her senior prom... went with two or three other couples, probably didn't dance... I remember one of the girls broke her pearl necklace and I was chasing pearls around on the floor.... don't recall if they were real or fake.

I'm just glad to be smarter now than I was then in so many ways...
Our son is 17 and he generally attends the school dances with a really good group of friends. All good kids; some athletes, some geeks... but he has been talking about proms this year... coming up!

Posted by Ben | March 30, 2010 8:37 AM

Noted, Steve - thanks!
just to clarify my "cute and popular" status in the mid-sixties: i might still be cute (in a grey, wrinkly, fat way) but what is a relief is that i'm not starving myself or acting in a way that really isn't me anymore. very comfortable and i admire any kid who gets to that stage early. i hope nowadays kids are wiser than to ignore the pudgy/average intelligence kids. it seems like, as with Elinore's friend, maybe kids are stronger in their convictions and not afraid to be themselves? i have precious little contact with kids (except goat-types) now.

a prank, Clyde? i was way too inhibited (read scared of my Mom if i got caught) to pull a prank on anyone in HS. cheers to the beautiful six again, for that.

Posted by barb in Blackhoof | March 30, 2010 8:45 AM

Ben--re your very last post last night. I love quirky trivia and here is one for you. The actor who plays Jim (No, no, no, no, yes) in Vicar of Dibley (Trevor Peacock--isn't that a most English name?) is also the writer of the song "Mrs. Brown you've got a Lovely Daughter" and other songs.

Posted by Clyde | March 30, 2010 8:52 AM

Ben - I am also glad to be smarter now than I was back when. I was always a rebel (I had that poster of the soldier w/ a daisy sticking out of his rife that said "Follow Your Own Drummer" on my wall all through high school). But even though a rebel, I can't claim any great wisdom at that age.

Clyde... marvelous piece of trivia, bringing together two things I adore: Vicar of Dibley and Hermann's Hermits!

Posted by sherrilee | March 30, 2010 8:57 AM

I think I lost my last post. Any way, I do have a prank to mention. During seniors week, when I was substitute teaching, some seniors slipped out of my class and taped another student to a chair. The assistant principle, who didn't have much of a sense of humor, found them and told me that I was doing a proper job of supervising my students.

Posted by Jim | March 30, 2010 8:59 AM

At my High School it was perfectly acceptable to go to the prom even if you didn't have a date. My friends and I were far more interested in lovely dresses than boys, so in our Junior year we all sewed our own dresses and went together in a group and watched the couples dance and had a great time. In our senior year we all went out to dinner and a movie in Sioux Falls (which was a big deal, then) instead of prom. My husband went to high school in Sheyboygan WI, and only select people were invited to go to the dances, so even if you and your date wanted to go to prom, you couldn't unless a committee decided you were acceptable enough to attend.

Posted by Renee | March 30, 2010 9:29 AM

My wife was from a very small town; graduating class of 25... She attended her prom without a date as well. She and some girlfriends...

And to take this into the HS reunions then... her 20 year in someones backyard with a BBQ was more fun than my 425 member class with the party at the local bar / hotel.

Posted by Ben | March 30, 2010 10:50 AM

The whole social thing at school wore me out as a student and as a teacher. I could win the award for not having traved the shortest distance to a high school reunion. Proud to say I missed them all.
Mpls schools in the 50's had clubs, a la sorority and fraternity. My wife's class still gathers in clubs at their renuions. My wife was a star of her class but has only gone to one reunion and will not go again because of how all of that hangs on.
I have long had a dream of a non-social high school. Kids would come, attend class, go out into the community for awhile (such as work at fast food places for lunch) and come back and finish the day. No sports, no clubs, etc. there are many many students who dislike school not for the learning but for the social setting. And I will nto talk about the teasing, despite that tragic death in MA.
The principal in the "beautiful six" was the perfect child/student, a role she did not want to fill but could never quite step out of--a PK (preacher's kid). She used to roam the halls without a pass (a big sin then) but no teacher would ask her for one because they all knew she could not be doing anything wrong. She used to get furious over it.

Posted by Clyde | March 30, 2010 11:09 AM

Great poem, as always, Clyde.
This is ot but I wanted to thank Elinor for mentioning Brian Eno yesterday on the blog. I wasn't familiar with him but when doing the Monday crossword he was one of the clues so I was able to fill it in. Another good reason to listen and read the blog everyday on RH.

Posted by Barb in Starbuck | March 30, 2010 11:33 AM

I find reunions to be two sided, and I go whenever I can just out of curiousity. There are still some who gather in their cliques, but I find it fascinating to see who all these people have become. As Clyde has mentioned, some of the really shy ones are poised and beautiful later on, some of the gorgeous and popular in h.s. don't hang onto that as they age... A guy who seemed like a loser turns out to own a very successful home town business... One of the prettiest cheerleaders doesn't marry till she's 40... I don't like to miss anything, I guess.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 30, 2010 11:38 AM

Yes, Barb in Starbuck, I'm a crossword fan, and Eno is a name I now remember. :)

Clyde - Except for working at a job in the middle of the day, a high school such as you described probably exists somewhere... online. I wonder.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 30, 2010 11:43 AM

Our senior prank was a good one, but not connected to the prom---ours was connected to graduation. Somehow a group of guys got the doors off the study hall and managed to take in a VW Beetle, left it parked there, and also glued a large army of plastic army soldiers having a "war" onto the ceiling. Was those days.
I went to every prom, but was always terrified that I wouldn't be invited.

Posted by audrey in Mpls. | March 30, 2010 11:46 AM

Barbara in Robbinsdale--those high schools exist as alternative high schools, which serve a real purpose. There are many kids who by grade 10 are not causing problems but not being really addressed by the school. The kids I am talking about do not want to go to an alternative high school, which has its own cultural issues, centered on major issues that these kids do not share. The noon day part is because such studenta are so often the kind who learn better in hands-on real-world contexts. NCLB turned schools back into sit-'em-in-rows drill-and-kill factories, which is what these kids do not want. They will play the game and drift through. I just dreamed of trying to get them to dream.

Posted by Clyde | March 30, 2010 11:55 AM

Oops. did not want this to get serious. Loved the prank, audrey, except for may be the glue part. I love creative elaborate non-destructive pranks. Where is it Cal Poly that has a tradition of younger students pranking older students in very elaborate ways?

Posted by Clyde | March 30, 2010 11:59 AM

Off Topic: Has anyone else had a really SLOW time navigating around the blog/Radio Heartland/MPR sites the last week or so? It seems to be the only place online that this is so, and it doesn't seem to matter whether I'm on Mozilla Firefox or Int. Explorer. It's to the point that I now just click on the site I want and leave for 10 minutes, come back later.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 30, 2010 12:05 PM

B in R--sometimes, not necessarily more than usual.

Posted by clyde | March 30, 2010 12:12 PM

Not to stay serious, Clyde, but maybe creative - I volunteer at an alternative high school, and you're right about them having their own set of social issues. My son ended up going there in the late 90s, as he was one of those getting lost in the crowd at the huge suburban h.s. He ultimately went Alternative (a friend lured him in) and succeeded, otherwise I don't think he would have graduated. I do wish, like you, that there was some OTHER alternative for those kids. Joel would have benefited from something like what you describe.

Posted by Barbara in Robbinsdale | March 30, 2010 12:14 PM

Barb in Starbuck, glad you took something of use from the blog entry!

Posted by elinor | March 30, 2010 12:58 PM

Oh, Elinor, it was all of use, believe me. That was just a bonus. I was really glad I wasn't the only person, of a certain age, that liked "Buffy the Vampire Slayer".

Posted by Barb in Starbuck | March 30, 2010 5:23 PM

clyde. yesterday was a loo loo,
i was the singer in the band at outr prom. 1973 was the year and we were doing jethro tull and joe cocker. it was great but not very promike form my perspective but i was absolutly not a tux guy at the time. whaita minute yes i was . i wore a tux wwith tails on a couple of our tunes on stage. owh well i digres
the prank reminded me of our dog poop prannk where we would look for the fresh juicy varieties and then put them in a lunch bag and light them on fire on someones front step. before we did this we would shear trhe door handle good and then ring the doorbell and run around to the back of the house, when the guy in the house saw the bag o fire he would stomp it out get the poop on his shoe and then we would ring the back doorbell and have him run through the house to catch us spreading the dog poop on the carpet as he went. the dog poop on the door handle was the added spice to the joke. it worked just as planned almost every time. great memories thanks.

Posted by tim | March 31, 2010 6:27 AM

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