Twelve Step Dance Program


Supervising prom set-up requires patience, problem-solving skills and the ability to wrench a hammer right out of a teenager’s fist before she tears into the tropical palm trees that not only refuse to light, they also refuse to stand upright no matter how many braces you attach to the trunks. As the veteran prom sponsor for our school for the past seven years, allow me to recap some of the more challenging moments.

First, we have the faux marble staircase that was to complement the theme of Midnight Masquerade. This magical feature was a free-standing structure made from the world’s finest, and therefore most expensive, cardboard known to man that would measure ten feet high and fifteen feet wide upon completion. It came with pillars and lamps, all which needed to be assembled from hundreds of pieces of robust styrofoam approximately the size of Legos. The entire monstrosity was housed in one box, and three of my kids danced from one foot to another because they couldn’t wait to construct what would undoubtedly be one of the most luxurious pieces of prom decor the student body had ever beheld. We cracked open a shipping container about the size of a coffin – please keep this tidbit of irony in mind- and I pulled out the instructions booklet. Yep, I said booklet. According to the back panel, we should round home plate after forty-six easy steps and about 18 miles of double-sided foam tape. But that was the good news. Page one stopped my blood flow with such alacrity that I’m pretty sure a piece of my liver died that day all due to 4 monumental words: assembly time twelve hours. Well, that couldn’t be right. And if it was, we’d be finishing this sucker right about the time the DJ arrived . . . for next year’s prom.

Those aren't prom decorations; those are Pandora's boxes

Those aren’t prom decorations; those are Pandora’s boxes

The students were no longer dancing in anticipation, and their pupils had this I-just-came-back-from-the-eye-doctor-and-he’s-pretty-sure-I-have-glaucoma look about them. I handed the booklet to the nearest one of the trio, gave them a bright smile and a cheery “Good luck!” that didn’t offer an ounce of comfort to anyone, and I scurried off to help with the balloon trees that were proving to be a real pill. And for anyone who says that money doesn’t grow on trees, you should check out the price of a set of balloon hardwoods, because obviously those beauties come lined with fairy wings and pixie sweat.

I returned to the staircase an hour later to find one worker remaining, and she had a wild look about her and a grip on a steel meter stick that was reminiscent of Sammy Sosa stepping up to home plate.  I made her put the weapon down before I closed the gap.

“We can’t do it, Ms. Carver. There’s just too many steps and too many pieces and I don’t understand how the stuff is labeled and the tape gets stuck to everything except the piece you need it to stick to and I . . . I . . .” She sank in the midst of corrugated cardboard and styrofoam wedges, clutching the booklet to her chest.

“There, there,” I soothed, sitting beside her and sliding a box cutter under my thigh. “I’ll take over for the boys, and we’ll tackle this thing together. Now, what step are you on?”

“Number three.”

So the twelve hour estimation might have been generous. “Ok. Let me have the booklet, and we’ll just do the best we can.”

The best we could do turned out to be half a staircase that sagged in the middle, wouldn’t stand up by itself, and had its luminescent side glued down. The lamp posts were askew as if they had recently survived Pompeii, and the little twinkle lights never would twinkle. After a six hour endeavor, we ended up stapling that joker to the wall and shifting the entire dance floor ten feet west just so that everyone who attended at least had to notice the SOB that had nearly cost an index finger amputation. I don’t know what staircase Led Zeppelin found, but this one was definitely the Stairway to Hell.

So between the steps that almost put me in a twelve step program and the balloon trees that were defoliating so fast that party goers thought we were experiencing a blight, it was a hard-fought prom that still turned out beautifully, albeit a bit beneath our expectations. All I can say is thank goodness for low lighting.

photo prom tables

Tune in next time for the year of the pirate ship . . .

© 2013 – Traci Carver


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