Approaching 40: Hold on to the night

The Cleveland Humanities Magnet class of 1990’s class song was Richard Marx’s “Hold On To the Night.” I had nothing to do with the choice. But the song does remind me of senior prom and that leads into the topic of school dances. Since that dance way back in seventh grade, I was never a big attender of school dances. Until senior year that is. During my senior year I had a girlfriend and she went to a different high school, so I had the great good fortune of attending several dances at my own school and a few at hers, and not one but two senior proms.

Those dances seemed like a very big deal to me at the time, and yet reflecting back on them, there was a fair amount of hobbledehoyishness to them that comes with the inexperience of the age, I suppose. There was the novelty of dressing up in tuxedos and seeing your girl dressed up in fancy dresses. There was the novelty of being escorted in a limousine. (At one of the proms I attended, our Limousine driver looked exactly like Hulk Hogan.) There was the novelty of being in a fancy hotel for a banquet. But beyond that, what did you really do? There was food but I seem to recall being too nervous to eat. Nervous about what I’m not certain. You danced, of course, and the songs that were played were packed with just enough nostalgia for the three years you spent at the school to make you feel both sad to be leaving and grateful to be escaping. “Hold On To the Night” is a perfect example, I think. What senior class does not attempt to freeze the moment in time just before graduation? Not only are you a senior at this point, but you’ve already been accepted to college. Your grades don’t really matter. Summer is just around the corner. Of course it seems like an idyllic time.

But there are always things that sour those moments, and I’m afraid I was guilty of one such faux pas at my senior prom. My prom took place on a boat that cruised around the harbor of Los Angeles. My memories of much of the evening are a blur, but I do remember spending a fair amount of time outside on the deck, leaning on the railing and watching the sea and the stars. Sounds pleasant, and perhaps it would be if it were not for the fact that I was ignoring my date. Not intentionally. I just didn’t get to be out on the ocean at night time very often. The sky was unusually clear for L.A. and I was captivated by it. By my date was not. She was furious and the long, silent car ride home was abysmal. I knew I’d screwed up but I didn’t know how to fix it. We eventually moved past it, but I can’t for the life of me figure out how I managed to smooth things over. I always felt terrible about the way I behaved and for many, many years, when I heard Richard Marx’s “Hold On To the Night,” it was that night that my memory seemed to hold on to.