Bet Your Prom Wasn’t Like Mine

Did I mention that I grew up in Tonga? That’s where I was during my senior year in high school. That’s where I had my Senior Prom. Now I know prom is a big deal, it was to us, even in the islands. I never went to prom in America, but I’m sure mine was a little different than yours. First off, our prom was called a “ball”, as in “a ball that Cinderalla went to”. It must have been that British influence. The Ball was a long-standing tradition at our high school. In fact, I’m pretty sure that we were the only high school on the island that had one. We were cool like that.

Our ball took place in our gym. Here’s the set up. See the arrow. That’s where each person and their “partner” (defnintely NOT date) came out of.  There was a camera crew as well. If they had had live television back then, I’m sure it would have been broadcasted for the rest of the island to watch. Because it wasn’t, everyone who didn’t go to the ball, stood outside watching. I’m serious.

There I am with my partner. He was the student body president at the time, and because of that, we were the first to be announced. We were announced, came down the stairs and waited for everyone else to make their grand entrance.

After everyone was announced, we all did this dance number all together called The March, that somehow you knew automatically how to do that night. There was never “March rehearsal” which actually surprises me. It was tradition to do at the ball.

Only Juniors and Seniors were allowed at the ball. Oh yeah, and their parents. These are mine. It was kind of just, well, expected that your parents would be at the ball. In fact, you came to the ball with your parents, then went and found your partner after arriving.

We usually had entertainment halfway through, you know, to give those dancing feet a break. I didn’t get one. I was part of the entertainment. I was asked to dance a hula number. My sister reminded me that we had gone that afternoon to the gym, so I could practice there. Betcha didn’t have to do that for prom.

I enjoyed my prom experience. I guess because things are done different here, it might be seen as a unique experience. For me it wasn’t weird and it wasn’t “different”. It was what I expected and loved it.

Standing on Your Teacher’s Desk (I don’t recommend it)

I was looking through old photos and came across this one. This is me at my high school graduation. Gotta love the white uniform we had going on. I think they still wear it there. See that big green patch there. Well, only certain people got to wear that patch. When you wore it, you were known as a pre-fect. Someone who enforced the rules among the student body. I think about it now, and I’m sure many people probably hated me because of that. In my defense, I don’t think I ever “enforced the rules” with anyone. So I’m not sure why I was made a prefect. I think it was the school’s way of making us their minions.

Graduation (Nov. 5th, 1993)

Anyways, I don’t share that with you because I want to show off. I’m sharing it with you because one year, when I was a “rule enforcer”, I had decided to stand on my teacher’s desk. Yeah. Not something that I should have been doing, whether I was a prefect or not.

I was in the 8th grade, and came into English class in the morning. Everyone was congregating with their various circle of friends, just chit-chatting. Someone then informed us that our teacher was out sick and there was no sub (yet). So, we all just relaxed and started playing around, getting loud I’m sure. Next thing you know, I decide to let loose and stand on my teacher’s desk. To this day, I’m not sure why. I simply don’t remember. I just remember thinking, “how about I stand on the teacher’s desk”. Not one of my finer moments, and it just got worse from there.

As I was on the desk, I straightened myself up, and the next thing I knew, there was a loud bang! I thought I had hit my head good on the ceiling maybe (I’m 5ft 7 BTW). I put my hand on my left temple because boy did it hurt! I glimpsed up at my classmates, all of whom had a look of horror on their faces. I thought, oh the shame. Such disappointment in their prefect, they must have thought. I let them down. I then looked down at the teacher’s desk, and could see huge drops of blood furiously dripping from where I had my hands on my temple. I removed my hands to look at them and they were covered in blood. I looked back up, this time to see the principal standing there in the doorway, mouth dropped open. She had come to check on us, to see if we were behaving. Obviously, some of us weren’t.

I remember her rushing over to me and several people helping me down from my stage of embarrassment. Another teacher had come and they whisked me off to the school health room. The nurse looked at it and said to take me to the hospital. I knew then that I must be in real trouble. Let me explain that the hospital in a 3rd World or developing country is not of the same standards as say the USA. We only went if it was necessary because it was kinda scary.

Next thing I knew, I was laying on a stretcher in the ER, still holding a cloth to my forehead, waiting for the doc to stitch me up. By this point, I was told that I had hit my head on the ceiling fan that was above my teacher’s desk. It had been on when it hit me. Got me right on the hairline. While waiting for the doc, my parents walked in. My dad chuckled, shook his head, pointed out the prefect badge and said, “What kind of prefect are you?” That was about as much sympathy as I got that day, along with 5 stitches and a moment that I never lived down for a loooooooong time. See Tongans are merciless when it comes to teasing, it’s in their nature. You can’t take it personal though, because it’s all in good fun. Every time I walked down the hall I was given a salute. They used their left hand of course.

So, if you’ve ever thought of standing on your teacher’s desk – don’t do it. Bad things will happen.