Ask anyone who knows me well and they will tell you I am a comfy creature of habit who thrives on the basic fundamental principles of predictability, simplicity and quietness. But I have learned in recent years that having too many reservations, usually stemming from my fear of the unknown, has caused me to miss out on the spontaneous, if not now, then when, possibilities life has to offer me if I just lived in the moment. Can you relate to saying “no” to opportunities you’ve had in the past that could have potentially allowed you to live life to the fullest in fear of the unpredictability when later you regretted not taking the chance? I want to remind you that you only live once. That’s exactly why my 37 year old husband and I decided to crash a local high school prom for no other reason but to say that we got to go to prom together. Note, that we did it before Justin Bieber. He copied our idea. Although our childish antics almost got us busted by police, we now have a memory of a lifetime. Here’s how it all unfolded…
Sarah c. 2000 …………………….John c. 1996
It was a routinely predictable Saturday evening in the Mabry home: a couple of Redbox movies and a plan to pick up sushi to-go for our in-home date night. My plans got a little risky when I decided I would rather eat my sushi at the restaurant because in my head it tastes much better when it is served on a fancy plate than in a Styrofoam to-go container. We loaded our three kids in the car and headed out for dinner. Exiting the neighborhood we saw several prom couples taking pictures while using the beautiful countryside as their backdrop. John obnoxiously honked our car’s horn and waved to all the couples and their parents. This behavior of his used to really embarrass me but after so many years together it doesn’t get to me anymore! We turned out of the neighborhood and saw dozens of more prom couples making their way into our local Agricultural Center (you know you live in the country when prom is held at the same place as cattle shows and rodeos). Prom was everywhere, we couldn’t escape it! Jokingly, John and I laughed about how funny it would be to crash a prom as we continued on our way to the sushi restaurant.
Over dinner, we reminisced about our proms. I told John that I wish we could have gone to prom together because I know we would have had a blast! That’s when the spark went off. John and I looked at each other and knew in that moment that we HAD to do it. I mean, once you come up with a once in a lifetime idea like this you can’t NOT do it, right? I never used to think like this; like I said, I thrive on predictability. But John said, “If not now, then when?” While sitting in the booth, I text our babysitter and asked her to come over in 45 minutes, around 7:30 p.m., because we had a prom to crash. Once she confirmed her availability it was on!
We returned home from the restaurant a little after 7 p.m. John was in charge of putting Sawyer down for bed while I rummaged through our attic in hopes of finding my 15 year old prom dress in one of the many Rubbermaid memorabilia tubs. With only 20 minutes to transform from a mom in workout attire to a prom queen, I hurried from the attic with the dress in hand and into our bedroom to start the makeover. Somehow, someway, I was able to squeeze into my vintage prom dress. The waist was incredibly small but I figured eventually I would go numb and would not feel myself from the waist down and all would be alright. Quickly, I threw my hair into an updo using several bobbi pins and a LOT of hairspray, tossed on some jewelry, and gobbed on the makeup. I was ready to go!
While John dug out his tux from the closet and was getting dressed, I sprung to the garage to find some old plastic flowers in my craft bin to make a boutonniere and corsage using scotch tape and safety pins. The door bell rang and the babysitter had arrived. Our impromptu prom was about to begin! Our babysitter snapped a few shots of us before we headed out for the night. Lord only knows what she was thinking of us…and what she told her parents about us.
John opened the car door for me like a true Prince Charming and we headed over to the Ag Expo Center to hang with the cool kids. Being known as a goody two shoes rule follower, I nervously asked John how exactly we were going to pull this stunt off since we didn’t have tickets. He said, “Just trust me! I’ll figure it out when we get there.” I should know better than to trust this risk taker! But heck, you only live once, right?
After parking down by the dark loading area of the building, John explored the property and found a side door that was unlocked. He motioned me to follow him. My heart was thumping out of my chest as I thought of how I was going to explain to my family and friends how I got arrested and why I was wearing a 15 year old prom dress in my mugshot. John attempted to comfort me by saying, “Chill out, Sarah! We aren’t sneaking into the Academy Awards. This is a high school prom being held at an agricultural center!” We entered the building in a pitch black area, as the dance floor was curtained off at the far side of the building. We were only a few yards away from our grand entrance when John grabbed my hand and calmly said, “We have a ‘prom’blem! I think Paul Blart is after us in his stealth mode golf cart!” Trying not to have a panic attack, we quickly exited the building. John immediately started looking for another side entrance when I told him, “No! We’re not going back in. Enough is enough!” So, we headed over to the main entrance and hung out there with the real prom goers for a little while to get a better taste of the festivities.
You should have seen their faces when we explained that we are a married couple in our 30’s with three kids who decided to crash a prom. They were like, “Dudes, you guys are awesome!” There were several police on duty who were searching cars with flash lights and looking for suspicious activity…which would be us. Being the mature people that we are (sarcasm), we decided that it would probably be a wise idea to leave and continue on with our own prom night.
I wanted to be the Prom Queen so we drove up to the Dollar Tree and invested in a tiara. Low and behold, Planet Fitness was having a grand opening next door with a beautiful balloon arch, which happened to make the perfect backdrop for our formal prom picture! As the freshly crowned Prom Queen, we asked a passer-by to capture this endearing moment for us.
No prom is complete without some dancing so we went on a mission to find a place that would provide a party environment. We cruised by the bowling alley in hopes that Cosmic Bowl (glow in the dark bowling) would be in full swing. It would have been the perfect place to get our party on and attempt some cool dance moves we picked up from watching amputee Noah Galloway and his partner Sharna Burgess on Dancing with the Stars! Unfortunately, Cosmic Bowl didn’t start till 10 p.m. When you are in your mid-30’s, paying a babysitter and have 3 small children that wake up bright and early, 10 p.m. was way too late for these prom posers! So, we resorted to plan B.
Plan B consisted of creating our own dance floor on our back deck by plugging in our kids’ lava lamp and a green tinted light bulb. Once again, we put our wonderful babysitter to work and asked her to snap a few more pictures for us as keepsakes for our memorable night of Prom 2015. I had an absolute blast with my handsome prom date and I am glad we took initiative to live in the moment and make such a crazy idea actually happen. We might have been fifteen years late but better late than never, right?!?
Our original, predictable plan for a Saturday night of take-out and a movie quickly turned into the unexpected, just like life often does. As John experienced first hand from his car accident in 2000 (he was laid up in a Texas ICU fighting to save his leg when I was going to my real prom in Illinois), everything can change in the blink of an eye. I am so grateful that he is alive today and able to share the following life lessons with me…
Nobody is guaranteed tomorrow.
Everyday is a gift so be sure to rejoice and be glad in it.
You only live once, so take some risks and live your life to the fullest. You may not have another chance.
Remember, if not now, then when?