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January 26, 2005

Of keepsakes and Prom photos...

When I was younger I once came upon a box under my grandmothers bed of all of my school papers, report cards, etc. What struck me as things that should just be thrown away were things that she wanted to keep for sentimental value.

Since Jack’s been born I already have a few things that I know I want to hold on to. His soggy froggy is one. A scrap of wallpaper left over from where we wallpapered his room is another. There are a couple of outfits that I want to make sure we keep and the blanket my grandmother knitted for him.

Of the two of us I’m the sentimental one. Fabulous Babe is the “I did an inventory and we have one too many of that” kind of gal. This difference is best summed up in Christmas cards: I want to keep the really great ones from each year and she wants to toss the whole lot after harvesting addresses.

Why am I this way?

Easy: I was traumatized over my Senior Prom pictures.

That was the year I took a friend who had recently transferred to a Catholic high school after having a nervous breakdown in class. (What can I say? Anthropology is a rough class in a Kentucky public school.) All things being said it was hellish in the way that only a high school prom can be: I had awful 80’s hair but my date’s dress was low cut so it’s not like anyone noticed. We went to dinner, got photos taken and then went to the dance. (If you’re into celebrities I should point out I graduated with Ashley Judd. If I remember correctly her prom dress was black and gold.)

We had Prom in early May and were out by June. My job was to split the pictures with my date when they came in and get them to her.

My next door neighbor, Paper Boy, went to the same Catholic high school as my date. Unfortunately he was a tool that I didn’t have much to do with. Paper Boy had punched a girl named Denise in the jaw during class after she proved he had lied about something. Paper Boy was then told by the Nun in the class that if he didn’t leave immediately she would tell the 6 guys holding Denise back to let go of her and that he would get everything he deserved. (It was clear that Denise would have slaughtered him.) Needless to say my trust in his ability to complete a simple task like delivering pictures was nil.

The next step takes one of those weird Twilight Zone like turns. Shortly after receiving the pictures we had company coming over. In an effort to straighten the living room my grandfather scooped the pictures up and then put them inside a book which he promptly shelved.



I didn’t realize what had happened to them until I asked him where they were a week or two later. He couldn’t remember the book. I went through all of them and never found them. Puzzled I thought sure they would turn up. Of course they didn’t.

Months go by. Years go by. Eventually, almost 5 years after the fact, I’m at my Brother’s house one night when my old prom date shows up to hook up with her old flame who was now back in town. Watching the two of them circle for dominance was almost as frightening as the words spilling out of their mouths. Sure enough like two love crazed Bengal tigers they left together. Not, however, before I got reamed about never having delivered the pictures. “They’re the only pictures from a school dance I don’t have copies of!”


So I went home that night. I looked. I spent the next few days tearing the library apart. There wasn’t a single book that I didn’t look in, under, above, etc.


I gave up. They became a running joke with everyone and testimony to how safe something left in the care of my grandfather is. “It’s so safe you aren’t allowed to handle it anymore.”

You would think that was it. That they were lost and gone and never would be found again.

When I was living in Baltimore, sometime around 1994 or 1995, I was talking to my grandfather on the phone.

“I saw those pictures the other day.”

“Huh?” (His statement had nothing to do with what we were talking about.)

“Those dance photos. I saw them.”

“What dance photos?”

“The one with you and the girl in the blue dress.”

“What did you do with them?” (Now realizing what he was talking about.)

“I figured they were safe there so I put them back.”

“Do you remember what book it was?”



Now, if there is any sort of sentimental attachment, I keep it. I keep it where I can find it. That and I don't let my grandfather keep it safe.

P.S. Thanks to my Brother's wife, Miss Lilly, for reminding me of this tale of woe. (That's what comments are for folks.) Let's also be clear. If I ever find the darn things I will overnight them to my Prom date. Ed.

Posted by Jim at January 26, 2005 12:05 AM


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