Separated at Prom

By Michael J. Legeros

So I have a new girlfriend.  Julie.  Been dating two months, so we
still reek of endorphins.  (You know the drill:  every waking mo-
ment together, promising Heaven and Earth, ignoring even our best-
est of friends, etc.)  About a month ago, I pulled out the scrap-
books and all the accompanying (and hopefully amusing) photos of
Yours Hammy in high school and college and graduating from the Fire
Academy.  (Big, *big* smile at that last one.)  Plus a prom photo,
tucked inside something called a "Senior Memory Book," a cute piece
of mass-marketed junk that Julie, it, like, so happens, possessed
an identical version of.  (This despite her having graduated in Il-
linois instead of N.C.-- towns of Normal and Morehead City, respec-
tively-- and four years *earlier*.)  So Julie sees my prom pic and
screams.  "Oh my [Gosh!]  You look just like *my* prom date!"  And,
sure enough, I do.  After unearthing her photo and brushing off the
pebbles, I see the resemblance.  Her high-school beau has the same,
dorky, Dutch-boy haircut, is also wearing super-big style glasses,
and appears to have stolen my trademark, goofy grin.  I laugh.  We
laugh.  And, within a day, I've shared our discovery with friends
and family members, scanning the side-by-side pictures and posting
them on the Internet. So far?
Normal, IL - 1979 Morehead City, NC - 1983
Fast-forward to present day.  Mid-May, pre-Memorial Day, and a long
weekend for Julie and I, with two of the three days spent travel-
ling to and knocking around Morehead City.  Our activities include
visiting the New Bern Fireman's Museum, visiting the magnificent
new downtown New Bern Fire Station, a lame lunch at King's BBQ in
Kinston, playing on an abandoned fire tower in Selma, breezing
through an outlet mall, also in Selma, staying at my first bed and
breakfast in Beaufort (frankly I prefer hotels, as I suspect *most*
men do.  Anyone care to support this Broad Gender Stereotype?), my
spending an hour Saturday morning parked a block from the Beaufort
fire station while installing a pair of "police radios" into the
"dash" of my first-ever *new* new car-- a 2001 Honda Accord (red,
of course), consuming not one but *two* Dairy Queen "crunch cones"
(same ain't available in Raleigh), and enduring a pair of dinner
disappointments at Clawsons in Beaufort (off-tasting New York strip
steak and overcooked baked potato) and a Texas Steakhouse and Sa-
loon in New Bern (under-adorned grilled chicken salad).  The most
unusual event of the weekend, however, involved a chance encounter
with the *last* person Julie and I expected to see:  *my* senior-
year prom date.  Vickie, a then-sophomore that I hadn't seen since
high school.

Here's what happened.  By noon on Saturday, we were ready for food.
Julie had earlier sampled the B&B's "continental breakfast;" I'd
only snacked on a Twix bar and some sour-cream-and-onion Pringles.
Needless to say, we were salivating.  As our afternoon plans in-
cluded an island-length drive from Atlantic Beach to Emerald Isle,
we started looking on the east side of Morehead, the side of town
closest to Beaufort and home to several waterfront troughs.  First
tried was the New Dawn Restaurant, which was nearly empty, which we
didn't interpret as a good sign.  (And even if it *is* technically
still off-season.)  Next 'twas the Sanitary, one block over, a fish
house famous for both its ishy seafood and the fact that everyone
and their sister is employed there at least *once* in their usually
young-adult lives.  Happily, the lines were non-existent that day.
The hostess promptly seated us at window-side, at a table with a
view of the water but at aesthetic dead-center between two packed
flanks of people.  I shook my head and requested a less-encroached
upon location in the back.  Er, front.  Menus are handed, hostess
leaves, Julie excuses herself, and I pull out reading material-- a
small stack of copies made the day before at the New Bern library,
about the Great Fire of 1922, the worst fire ever to occur in North
Carolina and that ravaged 40 city blocks, destroyed 1000 buildings,
and left 3200 people homeless.  Houses were dynamited to create
fire breaks, other buildings were pulled down with a cable attached
to a railroad locomotive, and, amazingly, only one person perished.
But I digress...

So I'm shuffling papers, my landlubber mind deciding on either a
ham or hamburger steak.  Look up and the waitress is there, some
blonde with a purple-- sorry, "fuchsia"-- tee, setting out linen
and silverware.  "Are those sanitary napkins?" I inquire.  She
smiles weakly, eyes rolling as if wondering "who is *this* clown?"
And then our eyes meet.  Blink.  Blink blink.  "What is your name?"
I immediately ask.  Blink.  Blink blink.  She's smiling now, shak-
ing her head ever-so-slightly.  "We went to the *prom* together,"
Vickie answers, "You don't remember my name?"  She laughs.  I howl.
And, upon returning to the table, Julie can barely believe it.
"I was *just* thinking about you," I tell her, retelling the tale
of two prom photos.  She asks about my mom, I hand her my Web ad-
dress, and finally confess to a little bit of trivia, admitting to
Julie that "she gave me my first kiss."  To which Vickie corrects,
"no, he gave *me* his first kiss."  And Julie just laughs, aston-
ished by the amazing coincidence and maybe just a *little* appre-
ciative of the other woman for getting the whole, big ball rolling.

Postscript, April 2003.  Mike and Vickie, past 'n' present:
Morehead City, NC - 2003 Morehead City, NC - 1983
Copyright 2001, 2003 by Michael J. Legeros


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