Title: Prom Night
Characters: Grace, Joan & Beth (with a side of Luke)
The doorbell rang.
Grace sighed, trying to remember just exactly how she had gotten herself into this. She wondered if she just ignored it and pretended she wasn’t home, if they would go away.
The doorbell rang again.
Realizing that ignoring it wasn’t going to make it go away, Grace made her way to the front door. She opened it and in rushed Joan and Beth, carrying what appeared to be enough luggage for a 3 week trip to Alaska.
Grace’s eyes widened as both girls started chattering and pulling things out of bags. She had no clue what they were talking about.
“Woah,” she finally said, needing a minute to get her head on straight.
Joan and Beth looked up from their bags.
“What’s wrong, Grace? I thought you wanted our help.” Joan looked a little confused and a little scared.
“I did, I do… I don’t know, Girardi!” She threw her hands up. “This is a little overwhelming for me.”
Beth walked over to Grace and put a hand on her shoulder.
“I remember getting ready for my first big dance back in high school. It was the first time Kevin had asked me out and I was so nervous. I didn’t know anything about dresses or make up. I was kind of a nerdy kid. But for some reason, I caught Kevin’s eye. He was one of the most popular boys in the entire school and I thought I had gotten in way over my head. Luckily, my big sister and her friends helped me find my way. You just need to relax and let me and Joan help you.”
Grace felt herself grow a little calmer as Beth talked. She didn’t know Beth that well, mostly from huge family dinners at the Girardi house. But they were dating brothers and Beth and Joan were very close. And Beth had a calming presence that Joan would probably never have.
“Thanks guys,” she finally apologized. “You’re right,” she said to Beth, “I am very nervous about all this. I am not and have never been a girly girl. I certainly never expected to be going to a prom. This is second nature for most girls, but my mom left when I was so young…” she trailed off, not wanting unpleasant memories welling to the surface on what was sure to be a fun night if she could just relax.
Two hours later, it occurred to Grace that being “normal” wasn’t all people thought it was cracked up to be. Joan and Beth had spent the last two hours fussing with her hair, giving her a manicure and a pedicure, and covering her legs with some smelly stuff that was supposed to make them smoother than shaving. Grace felt horribly exposed in the little robe they had forced her to wear.
Beth was back to fussing with Grace’s hair. She had made Grace wash it and then put in all kinds of cream junk and then combed it into tiny sections and rolled it with curlers. Then she had sprayed more junk on it and hadn’t touched it for about 45 minutes.
Joan was finally finished putting the six hundredth coat of nail polish on Grace’s fingers. After an admonishment to not touch anything or move her hands in any way that could possibly mess them up, Joan rummaged through another bag and announced it was time to start putting on Grace’s face.
“What do you mean by ‘put on my face’, Girardi?” she asked, warily. “Last time I checked, it was still there.” She began to lift a hand to her cheek to reaffirm its existence but Joan’s cry of “NO, don’t touch ANYTHING” stopped her and she rested her hand on the arm of the chair again.
“Grace, putting on your face means doing your makeup.” Joan explained, slightly exasperated because she couldn’t find something she apparently needed.
“Joan, I’ve made it through seventeen years of my life without wearing makeup, why should I start now?”
“Because you want to look beautiful for Luke tonight.”
“But I’m going to look like a circus clown with all that crap on my face.”
Joan and Beth both laughed. Grace’s eyes narrowed. Beth regained control first.
“Sorry, Grace,” she apologized. “We’re not laughing at you. It’s just that we’ve both taken our turns looking like clowns but we’ve both finally learned that the trick to good makeup is to look like you aren’t wearing it at all.”
Grace was genuinely confused.
“If you aren’t supposed to look like you’re wearing it, then why do you use it?”
“Because,” Joan replied as she triumphantly held aloft whatever object she had been looking for, “wearing makeup will cover any flaws and focus attention on your best features.”
Grace pondered that quietly as Joan pulled a stool up very close to her and began to comb her eyebrows. She was so busy pondering the whole wearing make up to not look like you’re wearing it thing that she didn’t stop to wonder why Joan was combing her eyebrows.
“OUCH! What the hell are you doing Girardi!” She screamed as Joan attacked her with some small, shiny, silver instrument of torture.
“I’m plucking your eyebrows so they frame your eyes better.”
“Like hell you are. I’ve been extremely patient for the last two hours, but I’m drawing line with ripping tiny hairs from my face one by one.”
Beth stopped removing curlers to examine Grace’s face. “They really don’t look that bad.” She turned to Joan. “Instead of plucking, why don’t you use a tiny dab of gel and comb them into shape. It’s a lot less painful.”
Nearly three hours after they had started, they proclaimed Grace finished.
“So I’m going to the prom in this bathrobe?”
Joan and Beth shared a smile. “There are two dresses in this bag,” Beth explained. “We wanted you to have an option. The accessories in this bag will go with either dress.”
The girls stood up, gathered up all their things and began to leave the room.
“Wait, you want me to dress myself?” Grace couldn’t believe how pathetic she sounded, but after all this trouble, she didn’t want to screw anything up.
Joan and Beth laughed. “It’s goof proof, Grace,” Beth assured her as they walked out of the room.
Grace pulled a dress from the bag and held it up. “No way,” she said as she looked at it. It was a shiny, red thing with no sleeves and just a strap that went around her neck. The skirt looked way too short and it barely looked big enough to fit a twelve year old.
She tossed it aside and pulled out the second dress. “What the hell were they thinking?” she nearly screamed. This one looked like a tube of silver sequins.
She fretted for a few minutes and nearly called Joan and Beth back upstairs. But then her eye caught the red dress again and she thought maybe it wouldn’t be so bad. She struggled into it and looked at herself in the mirror. She barely recognized herself. Her hair was a crown of soft curls, her face looked like it could be on the cover of a magazine, and the dress was snug in all the right places.
“Wow,” she said under her breath, amazed that not only did she look incredible, but she kind of liked it.
She picked up the bag with accessories and added the jewelry and open toed sandals that Beth and Joan had provided. She went again and stared at herself in the mirror. She forced herself to smile. She was feeling pretty relaxed and confident about the night.
The doorbell rang.
Her confidence took a flying leap out the window. What if Luke hated all this? What if he thought she was being fake, trying to be someone she wasn’t? After all, he liked Grace Polk the way she was. Attitude and no makeup and had never been a problem. She felt herself beginning to hyperventilate.
“Come on, Grace,” she heard a voice say quietly behind her. She turned and saw Joan standing there.
“You look amazing.”
“But… but… what if Luke…” Grace faltered, not sure how to express her doubts.
“You’re gonna knock him dead, Grace. Trust me.”
Grace did trust Joan. That’s why she had allowed her and Beth to perform this little science experiment. She took a deep breath and smiled.
“All right, Girardi. Let’s go.”
Joan ran back downstairs as Grace took one last look at herself in the mirror.
She started to descend the staircase, slowly so she wouldn’t trip and fall down the steps, making an absolutely fool of herself. By the time she reached the bottom and looked up at Luke, he was in complete shock. They stood there for what seemed like an eternity, staring at each other. Grace couldn’t help but think that Luke looked more handsome then she had ever seen him. He was even wearing his contacts.
“Wow,” they said at the same time, breaking the silence. They laughed, which broke the nervous tension.
“You look amazing,” Luke said. He held out a wrist corsage of red roses tied with silver ribbons. Grace looked at him curiously as he slid it on her wrist.
“How’d you know what colors to get?”
He smiled. “Joan told me.”
Grace looked over to where Joan and Beth were huddled victoriously.
“How’d you know I’d pick the red one, Girardi?”
It was Joan’s turn to smile. “I just knew.”
Grace accepted that, just like she accepted every other strange quirk of Joan’s.
Luke held out his arm. “Are you ready?”
She slipped her arm through his. “Ready as I’m ever going to be.”
“Then we’re off to the prom.” He opened the door and stepped back to allow her to walk through first. She tossed a look over her shoulder at Joan and Beth and mouthed the words, “Thank You” as she walked out the door.