AT THE BEGINNING OF HIGH SCHOOL, I started to have sex with my friend Tim. He and I wrote comedy sketches together. And he was a soccer player, adorable. We had these elaborate rituals of how to get each other's clothes off. We had strip card games and we had, you know, I'm gonna play a song and if you can name the title, you have to take your shirt off. We would read about gay sex in Everything You Always Wanted to Know about Sex, and we would just experiment and experiment.
When it came time for junior prom, I didn't have a date, because, well, I was in love with Tim. I think I even knew at the time that prom was a performance, a show. And I knew who I really cared about. So I thought, Tim and I are each going to have a date, but we're really going to be there together.
I ended up asking this girl that I met through the Jewish youth group. I can't even remember her name. Let's call her Kim. She was this gorgeous, sweet, elegant girl from Charleston, which was ninety miles away--just far enough away for me to adore her and idolize her, but not close enough that I actually had to deal with it.
At the time, I was obsessed with the movie Tess. And I had several phone conversations with Kim and I was like, "Okay, all these Columbia girls are going to show up in lime-green taffeta dresses, it's all going to be fake, fake, fake." And I was like, "Have you seen Tess? Because in this movie Nastassja Kinski is wearing very simple, natural fabrics and that's real beauty. And you have this real beauty." I probably also mentioned Barbra Striesand's wedding outfit in A Star is Born, because I was also fascinated with that. And Barbra wore those little white flowers in her hair-what are they called? baby's breath. So I said, "If there's baby's breath, that would be okay, too."
I can still remember these conversations and going, "It's your dress, but this is what I think is really, really pretty." I mean, I didn't send her costume swatches or anything, which I probably would do now. So I did give her . . . you know, there was some room for her.
The whole arrangement was that I was going to go to Charleston and drive her back to Columbia. And I was like staging it: there was going to be like a surprise event; she really was going to come down the stairs like I was seeing her for the first time.
So I picked her up and she was beautiful. The dress was very close to my vision; it was like a pale yellow with rosy and green flowers and a nice, high waist. I thought she looked really, really beautiful. Her hair looked gorgeous, but no baby's breath. And I was probably thinking, Okay, how datey is this going to be? Really, I was more excited about getting to the prom and being there with my friends and Tim. And I'm sure that if part of me was wanting to stage it, you know, for people to see me with this beautiful girl from another town, then another part of me was working on staging it so that we'd all be so tipsy that Tim and I could hang out and end the night together
By the time we got to the prom we were already pretty tipsy-we had stashed away magnums of something. The prom's theme was "A Night in Paris," and they had cardboard cut-outs of the Paris skyline and plastic champagne glasses. I knew that this was all the prom team could do, but I also knew that there were much better stagings--we could have really been transported through theatrical magic.
We danced. And I remember there was one song where the boys and the girls were dancing separately from each other--it was like a Kool and the Gang song, probably "Celebration"--and the whole time I was thinking about Tim and that we were getting away with dancing together.
It was a fun evening. In a way, it was the perfect prom for a gay boy in Columbia, South Carolina--lots of romantic fantasies, a lot of acting things out, and a great undercurrent of real desire. Besides, there really weren't that many options. And it wasn't Carrie, you know.