[Don’t give up!– The photos are near the bottom!]

My year with Roman seems too quickly to be winding down. A month and four days from today Roman will leave Franklinville and fly home to Russia. But one of the biggest milestones of the Eastern Randolph school year is tonight- the Junior-Senior Prom.

I wasn’t even sure he wanted to go, or was even thinking about it, until about 6 weeks ago when he told me he’d asked Erin Trogdon, the youngest daughter of Dianna Trogdon who runs Quotables next door to my office. Erin might have been the first girl Roman met in Randolph County last August, when we first ate lunch in the restaurant. He has gone with her several times to her church’s Wednesday night youth fellowship meetings, but they haven’t ever dated or anything- she has always had boyfriends. In fact, she had one when he asked her- but he goes to school in Guilford County. She’s a sophomore, so this will be her first prom, too.

It sounded like their mutual friends put them together, and coached Roman on asking her. He was clueless about the protocol of asking a girl to the prom, and it evidently took several of her cheerleading squad friends and several of his soccer team friends to clear the path and set it all up. Roman said just didn’t understand why he couldn’t invite her by cell phone or text message- but the other kids were firm, it had to be face-to-face! He finally made the reservations with the school, got tickets, and paid for them himself. I never knew anything until it was all over- not that I could have offered much in the way of coaching.

Once the trauma of the invitation was over, Roman quickly went into denial. I tried to explain about the tuxedo, the flowers, the dress, the dinner, and even the limo– all vital parts of the experience which many young women have come to expect. But no– dances in Russia are not so formal, he said; a young man can attend with several women, and dance with them all equally, without attachment. That’s how it should be here.

Except it isn’t, I said. As the weeks passed, other county schools began to have their prom (Southwest Randolph a couple of weeks ago; Asheboro last week), and the buzz grew stronger at Eastern. In fact, according to him, it was all anyone talked about last week.

Behind the scenes Dianna and I plotted out dinner reservations and flowers and etc., since Roman didn’t want to talk about that. Even before the trip to Washington we went to Big Deal with Tyler Milliner and ordered Roman’s tuxedo. This past Thursday afternoon after school we went back and picked it up, and before Roman went to the band awards dinner at Pinewood that night, he tried it on- a perfect fit.

Today he got up early- 10 AM, early for Roman- so I knew that something had come between him Roman surfingand 12 hours sleep. I called Dianna and got the instructions on where to rendezvous- a house just a few blocks away in Franklinville, the grandmother of Brittany, another cheerleader, whose escort DJ was driving the group to dinner and the prom- held at the furniture market ‘Showplace’ in High Point.

We were to meet at 4PM, but at 3:00 it started to rain buckets. The weather radar said it would continue to rain buckets, maybe all night, but for the moment it was still clear in High Point. So he started to dress, and I helped with the hard stuff like suspenders and tie. Getting Dressed When he was done, I didn’t like the black on black on black look, so I found a special tie pin- a Russian flag pin Alex gave me when we first met, Russian Flag Tie Pinwhich of course was a totally appropriate flourish. As a final point, for the boy who has never carried a wallet and hardly ever has his ID or his debit card, I let him use a Fossil billfold that Alex also gave me. So at least he’s set for the night- especially since an anonymous female admirer the other week gave him $100 to be sure he had money to pay for dinner (another thing he was in resistance to- Russians go dutch, evidently!

In the event, the rendezvous was delayed half an hour, as the crush of girls having their makeup done in the mall was throwing them very late. WaitingWe were sitting rather uncomfortably on grandma’s couch when they finally came, makeup and hair professionally done, and hurried to the bedrooms to dress.

Finally came the last big event (for me and Dianna, anyway): the photo session. The Girls Model Dianna handles the buttoniere

Him, Formal Romanher, Erinthem, Center of Attention

them again,The Happy Couple

Presenting Flowers

and with relatives, Ashley, Dianna, Erin and Roman

and as a group, The Two Couples.etc. Many different permutations!

But at last the event was recorded for posterity, and the rain ended so we could see them to the car. Then they were off, with last minute permission to stay out until 2AM, so they can have breakfast as well as dinner. Dianna told them to call and tell us what their plans were, but I already knew Roman would- he is particularly good at calling or texting me so I always know where he is.

No big night out for me- I decided to stay home, read, write, watch “Good Night and Good Luck” on DVD, and think about how my temporary turn at fatherhood is coming to an end. Today is a good example of how it has caused me to look again at my own teenage years. I know somewhere mother still has those prom pictures of me: junior year, when I went with Jo Carol Wrape, and wore that wine red crushed velvet tuxedo; and senior year, when I went with Vickie Richardson, and sported the electric blue crushed velvet tuxedo. Basic black just wasn’t the thing back then, but the seventies color scheme hasn’t aged well.

Roman has asked several times why this is such a big deal in America. He knows it’s not just here in North Carolina- tonight is also his special friend Kristina’s prom in Indiana, and his same-named buddy Roman’s prom in Pennsylvania. Perhaps not by coincidence is Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire on HBO tonight- the TriWizard’s Tournament Yule Ball, with all the kids in “dress robes” and formal gowns… Formal dances are some kind of rite of passage in western society- I don’t know whether it goes back to the Cinderella story, but we still have debutantes “coming out” into society at their balls, and that in a sense is what the Junior/Senior Prom represents- a teenager’s social coming-of-age.

There have been so many ‘firsts’ for me this year with Roman; now it seems like every first is also a last. I guess that’s way of parenthood- responsibility end for the adults, as it begins for their children. Mac and Roman