What struck me hardest was how nice they all were. And that age I was a sullen would-be-troublemaker (I didn't make weight for "thug"), but these kids were pleasant, polite insofar as they knew how to be, and cheerful. There was an equality of respect among them that was surprising, also. Despite dreadful claims one hears about schools these days, and my own memories, the conversation was led not by the prettiest or cruellest, but by the most charming, who was a plump girl dressed in blue. The gentlemen were uniform in looks (as they should be) and in an awkward chivalry to their dates which was really quite winning, even under the assumption that it was only a pre-emptive tactic in the late-night conflict over nine yards of taffeta and a back-seat.
They conversed on the usual high-school subjects, which meant an in-turning conversation of fractal complexity regarding relationships among each other, but also deviated to politics. An even left/right split to the group, which did not seem to cause trouble. Oh, and strapless is apparently the way to go, with gathered skirts. Gentlemen who had taken the trouble to rent the white dinner jacket ensemble were much admired.
It was odd to look on this prom, from the other side, so to speak. My own I remember poorly; a few details such as the rental shop getting the length of my pants right, but doubling the width, creating a billowy effect that was universally applauded as daring. Until I tripped. I believe the style has gone on to influence modern mores.
I do remember my date, of course, and those memories form part of the block which collectively creates gratitude toward anyone willing to interact with me as a teenager at all.
Of course, for them everything paled next to the lovely young woman or awkward, smiling young man sitting next to them. They will remember the dinner, I'm sure, and the dancing, and the conversations in the bathroom and afterwards, when they divide into three or four groups to go to various houses (those owned by understanding, absent, or deaf parents), and the inevitable fumbling at each other. But oddly, it's the person they'll remember most, almost romantically, despite all protestations. I wonder if this decency isn't the fundamental quality of youth, only occasionally and spectacularly perverted at times.