All little girls dream of being brides one day, but when I saw the pink meringue confection that my mother wore to my father’s senior prom hanging in the attic, I unabashedly longed for the day I would be asked to a prom by a boy and wear a pretty gown. My grandmother often remarked how exquisite my mother looked in the dress's 1950’s effervescent frothiness.
I was lucky to be invited to two junior proms one spring. The first one was a cold March evening and since my mother chose a mint green chiffon gown, extremely chaste with only puffed sleeves for protection, I froze that night. Mom pitched the dress to me by pointing out the petite embroidered flowers under the chiffon overlay. For the second prom, we bought a wheat linen Gunne Sax frock which to me, epitomized Juliet Capulet in Franco Zefferelli’s romantic film of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. A poster from that movie hung on my bedroom wall for years and also captured my imagination and fueled many a girlhood dream. The gown had a cream lace panel which ran perpendicular to the trim empire waist, and the sleeves tapered down to delicate points over the tops of my hands. It was prosaic and tender and I felt oh so pretty in it. Both dates were gentlemen but the second was a boy who really liked me and 30 or so years later, I still regret my reaction that night in the living room when he enthusiastically handed me the simple white box that held my prom flowers.
The girls in my high school asked their dates for flowered wrist bands for proms. These small posies had pastel carnations and the pervasive baby’s breath, scrunched together on a wide plastic band. They hardly ever survived the type of dancing we did and looking back, I think they were rather pedestrian and uninspiring. However, I was hoping that my date would know enough to order one after he asked what color my dress was. But he had a mother with good taste and so I was unable to hide my disappointment when I opened the flower box that night.
Instead of the candy colored wristband, I found a traditional bouquet. There were no carnations but a blend of unusual blossoms with a creamy lily in the center. Strands of ivy trailed down alongside the deep forest green looped silk ribbons. It was far more special than any trendy wrist band but that evening in the living room, I could not hide the letdown on my face and made a quip that carried the weight of my disappointment. My appalled mother whisked me into the dining room where she told me I had been rude and that I should appreciate my unusual flowers and thoughtful date.
I carried my bouquet and as the night wore on, I came to see that the earthy green ribbons looked very pretty against my romantic plain colored dress. I also noticed the intoxicating scent of the star lily when I held the bouquet at my waist for the prom photograph. And at the end of the evening, despite all the dancing and socializing, I took home a lovely keepsake to place atop my dresser mirror which lasted far longer than any of my friends' flowers. The other day, I found the ribbons from the bouquet tucked inside my old high school scrapbook. I recognized them right away - they are the deepest most everlasting green I've ever seen.