They say that everyone is a unique snowflake, but some of us grow up feeling like awkward chunks of sleet. When other girls were delicate whispers of snow floating through the air on Christmas morning, I was that freak hunk of ice people tried their best to run away from. I’m serious. I actually remember girls literally running away from me on the playground when I wanted to hang out with them. I was painfully socially awkward (to the point that I’m sure someone would have tried to misdiagnose me with Asperger’s if I was a kid today). My childhood was spent eating white cheddar rice cakes alone while watching Adam West Batman reruns. If someone accidentally allowed themselves to be around me, I would talk non-stop about Greek mythology, the wives of Henry VIII and how my sisters were constantly doing cool things without me. I was just this incredibly weird and awkward thing, and no one was going to deny it.
I was also really, really, really into Star Wars.
My obsession with Star Wars started in fifth grade and lasted until my sophomore year of college. And believe me, I was obsessed. I would rewatch the original trilogy movies every weekend. I read novels about what happened to Han, Luke and Leia after Return of the Jedi and about what happened to their children. I spent my afternoons chatting on a Star Wars message board (where I may or may not have had my first and only serious internet flirtation with someone). I used to comb the magazine stacks at Shop Rite for Star Wars Insider magazine every other week. It was bad.
I was really fortunate to find a core group of friends who shared my nerdy interests but for the most part, my peers were confused by my devotion to a space opera. I tried to explain to other teen girls how much I loved the escapism of the stories and how Princess Leia was one of the few female characters out there who could kick ass with the boys. They kind of didn’t want to talk to me after that.
By the time senior year rolled around, I had officially stopped believing in a different kind of myth – the myth of prom. From what I could gather, prom had no real purpose beyond being another fun dance. The reason it was so important was lost on me. I saw it as a legend spun in teen movies and magazines. It was created to allow plot resolution and to serve a teen fashion and catering industry. I reasoned that if prom is supposed to be “The Best Night of Your Life”, then your life is peaking at 18. What is that supposed to mean for your entire adulthood? The thing that kept me going as an awkward, nerdy, lonely kid was that one day I would blossom into something better. Peaking at 17 (because in addition to all my other social handicaps, I was also the youngest person in my grade) just wasn’t going to work for me.
I had practical reasons to want to skip senior prom, too. I had written an editorial in our high school newspaper condemning the junior class’s mismanagement of the event. I don’t want to go into the boring details of high school bean counting, but there was also some cattiness surrounding the event that I didn’t want to be a part of. I honestly didn’t care about my senior prom. What I did care about was that Star Wars: Attack of the Clones was premiering that same weekend (technically, it premiered Wednesday of the same week – I know this because I went to the first midnight showing). I jokingly told a couple of my friends, who were also not excited about the stress surrounding prom, that I’d rather see Star Wars that night.
To my pleasant surprise, my friends actually agreed that we should skip prom and see Star Wars.
So, I hatched a crazy plan. The three of us would dress up in our favorite formal wear, get dinner at Steak and Ale (an intensely classy establishment when you’re a teen living in suburban Delaware) and then go to our local movie theater and watch Star Wars: Attack of the Clones.
The night of prom, I was excited to get dressed up. Instead of worrying about looking perfect so that I could impress others, I just put on my favorite eyeshadow and kept my hair pretty but simple. I gleefully got to wear my junior year homecoming gown: a long black dress with a hot pink glitter flower design. I might wince at that particular sartorial choice now, but ten years ago wearing that dress made me feel beautiful. I felt really good about myself. The night was going to be fun.
After having a steak dinner, my friends and I drove to our local movie theater to see the film. I started to panic inside. We would look so out of place in our formal gowns at a movie theater. People would know it was prom night and that we weren’t there. What would the other movie-goers say? It had seemed like such a fun idea when I made it up in our cafeteria, but now I was waffling on actually following through. By the time we arrived at the theater, I was terrified.
As we started to walk across the parking lot and towards the theater’s box office, we noticed a group of teenage boys entering at the same time. They immediately noticed us and started pointing and saying things under their breath. I tensed inside. I was trying to come up for some good retort for any insult they would throw at our collective oddness. One of the boys called out with a laugh, “Did you guys ditch prom to see Star Wars?” We nodded. “THAT’S AWESOME!” The entire group actually cheered. Other people entering the theater saw us and smiled. We were three girls dressed up and out on the town having fun for ourselves. The guy was right; It was pretty awesome.
I may have finally outgrown my love of Star Wars. I might finally be interested in fancy dresses, kissing boys and dancing until 2am. However, I don’t think I’ll ever regret that I skipped prom to see Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (for the second time in one week). It was one of the first times in my life that I did something out of the ordinary and did not feel like a freak. I felt like I was a snowflake, for once, and not a hunk of gross ice. I might have been a snowflake from outer space, but that just made me even more special and unique.