Oh, the stories a prom dress could tell

This dress attended a Once Upon a Time themed prom in Rachel Sauer’s story. This dress was found at Goodwill, 630 24 1/2 Road.

This prom dress swayed to the music of Taylor Swift in Melinda Mawdsley’s short story. Mawdsley found this dress at Runway Fashion Exchange, 2454 U.S. Highway 6&50, Suite 110.

Look out Grand Valley! Here come the limos, rented tuxedos, big hairstyles, wrist corsages and brightly colored dresses. It’s time for prom.

Grand Junction and Palisade high school will have their proms on Saturday, April 13. Central and Fruita Monument high schools’ proms are set for Saturday, April 20.

In honor of prom — the good or ugly, the sweet young romance or everything gone severely awkward — here are two short stories as told by prom dresses found at second-hand stores in Grand Junction.

Once Upon a Prom (Cue the Sparkles)


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So, the troll was a surprise, but that’s probably getting ahead of the story. Aren’t these things supposed to begin “Once upon a time…”?

That was the prom theme: Once Upon a Time, and it could have been worse. It could have been the sort of theme that caused the principal to clutch her pearls and summon everyone, even the freshmen, to the gym for some Straight Talk about teen pregnancy.

So, yeah, no “One Night in Paradise” or anything. Just a lot of, “Seriously, guys, this is going to be, like, amazing” from the Stanford-bound prom committee president.

Our Heroine, per a frequently made and frequently broken resolution to Improve Her Attitude, did not roll her eyes (on the outside, at least) and innocently inquire, “So ... it’ll be amazing-adjacent, then?” Good girl, she praised herself, and stuck the invisible star in the middle of her forehead.

She was not some jaded Juno who thought prom was a negative 38 on the cool scale, nor was she a swooning birthday cake of a girl who wore a promise ring from her boyfriend and seriously, like, died for prom. She wanted to go, if for no other reason than to explore the mysteries of sparkly eyeshadow.

No boyfriend, though. The occasional trip to the movies in a scrum of friends that included guys, flirtations here and there, and sometimes stomach flutters in AP English when Cross Country Team Boy looked at her a certain way when they were joking around. Cute and brown hair and rumpled — these are good things.

In fact, he was heading one way and she was heading another, and at the point where they met he said, “Prom?”

“Yep,” she replied.

“Cool,” he said, grinning and continuing out to the parking lot.

Well: !!!

The dress, then. She couldn’t resist pink. Or the strapless, beaded bodice. Or the floaty organza skirt. Why the heck not, she figured, it’s prom. And on the night Cross Country Team Boy picked her up for it, after pictures in front of the fireplace and some boutonniere-related pin injuries, her mom leaned in to kiss her cheek and whisper, “I think you’ll recognize magic when you see it.”

The lady gets caught up, Our Heroine figured, so she nodded and smiled.

Is it possible for flowers to bloom inside your skin? That’s how she felt. Not roses or anything so dramatic, but daisies, maybe, or violets. She felt like smiling, and she loved that they were the only ones in the diner wearing a floor-length formal and a tux. Hamburgers for prom night: perfect. And was that ... wait. A bird?

A songbird? Delivering their check? And winking at her? That couldn’t be right.

But when he opened the door for her with a goofy “Milady” and a grand flourish, she could have sworn something like glitter — or even sparks? — trailed from his fingertips. She resisted the urge to rub her eyes with zany fists, like in the movies, considering her sparkly eyeshadow situation.

When they pulled up outside the convention center and followed the trail of balloons, they were greeted by what appeared to be a lumpy, bald ogre. In a tuxedo. Who took their tickets.

“Graaaaa,” said the ogre.

“...,” said Our Heroine. She willingly admitted to a life-long fondness for fairy tales, but this? It had to be some kind of Renaissance Faire deal, right? There was room in the prom budget for actors, obviously — very, very ugly actors.

But then, more finger-sparks from Cross Country Team Boy when he touched her elbow and led her into the prom. Where a baby kraken was happily splashing in the punch. And seven short men were doing the Cha Cha Slide in the exact center of the square parquet dance floor. And a winged, bowtie-wearing dragon was frantically trying to stomp out the flames consuming a photo backdrop. It was a medium-sized dragon, Our Heroine noted, one you could maybe invite over for Thanksgiving. Perhaps she should?

“Are you…?” she asked Cross Country Team Boy. “Is this…?”

“Let’s dance,” he said, grinning.

It was a slow song, and instead of the usual stiff-legged metronome back-and-forth specific to teenage boys, he twirled her. That pink dress! She loved that beautiful pink dress as it swirled around her legs and the beads caught the light of a comet racing around the convention center ceiling. She looked down, and down, and down, at the other dancers far below her.

The troll had snatched off his tuxedo jacket and was whipping it lasso-style over his head, to the giggling amusement of 12 dancing princesses wearing holes in their shoes. Tiny fairies in sequined formals flitted over the trays of brownies, snatching crumbs and laughing maniacally from the sugar high. Two knights in armor agreed to back off, to the wilting disappointment of the “fight, fight, fight”-shouting crowd that had gathered around them.

And they circled and spun, Our Heroine and the cutest prom date in the world, brighter and lighter and flowers blooming and sparks falling.

“Once upon a time,” he said.

“A boy and a girl went to prom.”

Princess Gown in a Jeep: Not Easy. Prom: a Blast



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Senior prom is where teenagers go to slow dance to overplayed pop songs.

I couldn’t wait.

After nearly four years of showing up to first period with wet hair in oversized sweatshirts, it was finally my time to dress the part of princess and sway to the sweet sounds of Taylor Swift.

My best friend Ryan, bless his heart, figured it was our last big high school event so we might as well make it memorable. It was music to my suppressed girly-girl ears.

My mother must have overheard one of my conversations with Ryan about channeling my inner princess — music to her ears — because she offered to help pay not only for the dress but also for professional styling.

Perhaps it was my mother’s sunny disposition when we went shopping, or the fact I recently saw “Beauty and the Beast,” but I was drawn to a yellow gown with a beaded bodice and a huge, flowing skirt similar to what Belle wore in the Disney film.

But, honestly, I liked my dress more. It was a softer, dreamier yellow, like a bowl of lemon ice cream with glittery sprinkles. It was SO princess!

I hung my dress in my room for a month. I couldn’t stop looking at it. I barely slept the night before senior prom, waking up every two hours frantic the dress was missing or damaged.

When I checked in with Ryan on the morning of prom, he made fun of me for obsessing about a dress. What a good friend.

He showed up at my house at 4:30 p.m. on that Saturday for a ridiculous number of photographs before our dinner reservations with all our friends.

Admittedly, I didn’t think about how difficult it would be to get in and out of the Jeep without snagging beads or shutting the bottom of my gown in the door.

I’ve never seen Ryan laugh harder.

At dinner, I couldn’t even sit at the table’s edge because my dress was too voluminous to scoot the chair in.

I drank water and ate plain bread because I couldn’t reach the table and didn’t want to spill anything on my amazing, albeit light-colored, dress.

Everything got easier once we arrived at prom. I wore these little silver ballet slippers because I wanted to be comfortable dancing all night, and my dress hid my feet, anyway.

Speaking of my dazzling dress, it sparkled in lights from the DJ booth. So did my earrings and bracelet. I’m not a necklace girl.

I felt like the “Belle” of the ball — pun intended.

The overplayed pop songs started right away and didn’t let up all night. Ryan danced with me on a few slow songs but took a seat when Lady Gaga came on.

Senior prom went great! There were no cat fights in the girls bathroom, and Ryan and I had no disagreements. (It probably helped that we’re such great friends.)

As far as my dream dress, I assumed I’d keep it forever.

My mind changed, however, when I stumbled upon a collection of used prom dresses at a used upscale clothing store.

At that moment, I knew I wanted to sell my prom dress. I wanted another girl to have the same princess moment I enjoyed.

I wanted the dress to go to more senior proms, more seafood dinners, and spend more time on the dance floor, listening to a whole new collection of overplayed pop songs.

It sort of sounds like a Taylor Swift or Selena Gomez song, right?


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