It’s been said, “the more things change, the more they stay the same.” So it is for American girls getting ready for the Prom. Like everything else, Shelter Island has its own version of mainland events. I remember the process of getting ready for the Prom here, and I bet it’s not all that different now.
First, you spend weeks searching for the perfect dress—mind you, the fliers haven’t even come out with the Prom details and you don’t even have a date. I searched through all the ads that came in the daily newspaper and searched the malls on the weekends if I could find a ride off Island. Girls cyber shop nowadays, but that doesn’t matter—the perfect dress must be found!
Next comes the perfect shoes to match the perfect dress. Since you can’t try on shoes over the internet, visiting all the shoe stores you can find is still the preferred method.
Shoe shopping is not easy. You find a pair that you like, but you have to keep on shopping in order to be sure that’s the perfect pair. You ask the store clerk to hold that pair of shoes for the day. If he won’t, you have to resort to covert ops. You return the shoes to their box and hide the box behind a line of other shoes, like men’s sneakers, where no one would look for five-inch spiked heel shoes. You can also hide them around or behind a display. If you’re really desperate, you can take out one shoe and switch it with a shoe that doesn’t match at all and discretely mark both boxes so you can match them up when or if you come back. You do this shoe hiding thing at four or five stores. Then you have lunch in the mall while you decide which shoes you really want. Most of the time, it’s the first pair you liked. So you double back to the first store and locate the hidden shoes. Now what happens to the other hidden pairs? They are left to fate.
The perfect dress with the perfect shoes are secured, so now it’s time to secure a date. Perfection is optional, but the main requirements are that they are taller than you, will not arrive drunk, and have enough brains to compliment your perfect dress. They won’t notice your shoes, but other girls will.
There’s no limo service on Shelter Island, so that expense is eliminated. Arriving in any clean car or truck is probably still acceptable.
Upon arrival, all the girls admire one another and are universally amazed at how good all the guys look scrubbed up and in suits. Talking with everyone is fun, the awkward dancing is horrible, but you know the real fun starts on the beach after the Prom is over.
I don’t know if they still do it now, but we all went to Shell Beach, which has one road in and out. The police would park at the end of the road to ensure nobody drove drunk and to ensure everyone’s safety. I remember being grateful for that because drinking was rampant—shocking I know, but true. Some of the guys could get pretty rowdy.
Of course it was challenging to walk in sand in high heels, and finding a clean place to sit in your perfect dress was nearly impossible. I wish we could have texted each other back then to warn each other where not to step or not to sit, but the fun goes on regardless.