I’ll never forget my senior prom. I know, of course, that nobody forgets their senior prom. It’s the singular event that the modern American teenage experience builds up to, the crescendo of everyone’s adolescence. But my senior prom marked three of the most important milestones in a young man’s life. It was the first time I ever kissed a girl, the first time I ever saw a girl naked, and the first time I ever rode in a limousine.
The limousine in question was a 1993 Chrysler Imperial six-passenger stretch with dual exhaust, tinted glass (including a tinted glass partition), sunroof, accent lighting, Pioneer sound system, mini-bar, TV set: the total package. It was jet black. Sure, we could have sprung for the white one like the preps from Eastgate Village, but why spend more money to look like you’re going to some Mickey Mouse wedding reception when you can save money and look like you’re Gordon Gekko on his way to the office. The guy at the limo rental place even said they used this same limo for Bill Clinton’s mom’s funeral. He didn’t think Bill Clinton rode in it, but he said it was possible Markie Post from Night Court did. The Markie Post funeral limo. I couldn’t wait to tell the girls.
I would share this prime automobile with two other couples. My best friend Carl and his girlfriend Joanna, who had been dating since sophomore year, and having sex since the summer after junior year. My other friend Shane who was on a blind date with a girl named Jennifer, one of Joanna’s friends from Maumelle, where her dad lived. Joanna promised Shane that Jennifer would put out and promised Jennifer that Shane would have acid. I was sure at least one of them was going to be disappointed.
My date for the prom was a girl named Morgan Freeman, a name that her parents likely loved in 1977 but had probably grown over the years to deeply regret. Morgan wasn’t bothered by having a stupid name because she was pretty and popular. She was blonde, green eyes, big round red apples for cheeks, and the body of a girl with a varsity letter in tennis. The only reason we were going to prom together was that the two of us had been sent by our high school completely unsupervised to Washington, DC to compete in a national geography competition and, while there, I asked her to prom. I can only surmise that she got caught up in the moment of feeling very grown up and, seeing me as her one and only equal in maturity, agreed Back home I could tell she regretted it. My first clue was when she said she would ride to prom with me and take pictures but asked me if I’d mind if she got a ride home from her friend Kristen’s mom.
The limo arrived at my house last. Morgan was already inside. She stepped out with the help of our chauffer, a portly man in a dark suit with white gloves. She was elegant and fetching in a long red gown that looked great against the jet black exterior of the limo. The limo must have been washed and waxed that very day, maybe even by hand, it was that shiny. I really appreciated the fact that the limo company did that and made a mental note to say so in a comment card or whatever they had when we brought the limo back.
It was the first time I ever kissed a girl, the first time I ever saw a girl naked, and the first time I ever rode in a limousine.
After photos and corsages and whatnot we all piled in the limo to head over to the dance. The driver leaned over the partition.
“Where to?” he asked us.
“Could you maybe just drive around so we can hang out in the limo for a while?” I said.
“Is this your first time in a limo?” he asked.
“Sure is,” I said.
“It’s not mine!” Morgan snapped. I blushed. How could I be so presumptuous?
“Me either,” chirped Shane. I was surprised. I didn’t know Shane had been in a limo. I cringed in embarrassment. Morgan must think I’m so simple, I thought.
“Well, sit back and relax,” the driver sang as he rolled up the partition and backed out of my parents’ driveway.
We all looked at each other with unbridled excitement. Everyone started futzing with the light switches, pouring ginger ale from the mini fridge, flipping channels on the 16-inch TV. Everyone but Morgan, who sat stone-faced and still.
“I guess this is no big deal to you, huh?” I asked her.
“No, not really. I’ve been in limos lots of times,” she said. I believed her. She looked perfect in the back of that limo in that fancy dress. She could have been born in a limo, she looked so perfect. I was just about to ask her if she maybe was born in a limo when Carl said “Hey! Who wants to stand up in the sunroof?”
He hit the switch on the ceiling and the sunroof slowly retracted. We all pressed our heads together to peer up through the hole and into the night sky above us: the stars, the passing street lights, the lit-up marquees. It seemed only natural to want to stand up in the sunroof and hold your arms out to the side. It felt like the reason limos were invented.
“I do!” everyone shouted at once. I seized the opportunity to impress my date.
“I think we should let Morgan go first.” I held my hand out to her to help her up. She didn’t budge.
“No, thank you. I’ve done it before and I don’t care for it. It just messes up your hair.” I didn’t know what I thought was cooler; this Chrysler Imperial stretch limo, or Morgan Freeman. It honestly didn’t matter. Tonight, I had them both.
“Why don’t you go, Jennifer?” Shane said, totally stealing my moves.
“I don’t know. Is it OK? Is it legal?”
“Of course,” Shane replied. “Everyone does it! You’re supposed to do it! It’s why the sunroof is there.”
“Fine, I’ll go,” she said.
Jennifer positioned herself under the sunroof and looked around at all of us. We were grinning at her, eager and excited for her and anxious for her to hurry up so we could take our turns. Shane helped her up from her seat and she popped out through the sunroof. We could hear her outside the limo holler “woooooooo!” We beamed with joy and excitement. Carl and Shane high-fived.
“How is it up there?” Joanna called.
“It’s awesome!” Jennifer yelled from above. “Wooooooooo!”
I couldn’t stop smiling just thinking about my own turn standing up in the sunroof of the limo. I thought about how I’d hold my arms. Maybe out to the sides like DiCaprio in Titanic. Maybe straight up in the air like on a roller coaster. I thought about yelling something about our high school, but I wasn’t sure what. I checked to make sure my fly was zipped, since I remembered from watching Jennifer that everyone else would be face to face with my crotch.
“I’ll go next,” said Joanna.
“Then me!” said Carl.
“Then me!” said Shane. Fuck! Why didn’t I say something sooner?
“Then me,” I finally muttered.
And before I could finish feeling sorry for myself for being last—fwoooop—Jennifer’s entire body was sucked up through the sunroof, and in an instant she was gone. I looked around at my friends, horrified. They returned my shocked expression with ones of their own.
“What the fuck!” Joanna screamed. “Where did she go, Shane?”
“I don’t know!” Shane said. “I’ve never been in a limo before!”
“I knew you were lying!” I said. “I fucking knew it!” I couldn’t believe I bought that Shane had been in a limo. When would Shane have been in a limo? He’s from Yellville. His Dad doesn’t even have a car, he drives a four wheeler. He probably was trying to impress Jennifer since he didn’t have any acid. The truth, like they say, has a funny way of coming out. I looked over at Morgan and rolled my eyes. “I knew he was lying,” I assured her.
“Morgan, do you know?” Joanna pleaded. “Was that supposed to happen?”
Morgan looked to be in shock. She snapped out of it.
“Don’t you think if it wasn’t the driver would have stopped the car?” she said. It made sense. We all nodded, feeling stupid for having overreacted.
“Your turn, I guess.” Shane said to Joanna.
“Oh. OK.” Joanna slowly edged off her seat. The enthusiasm from before was gone. Despite Morgan’s assurances, Joanna was clearly nervous. She squatted below the sunroof and looked up. I could see the lump form in her throat.
“Jo-ann-a. Jo-ann-a.” Carl began chanting. We each slowly joined him.
“Jo-ann-a. Jo-ann-a. Joannnn-a! Joannn-a! Joannn-a!”
And with that Joanna sprung straight up from her seat and confidently pulled herself up into the sunroof. We paused for a moment that seemed like an eternity, staring at her crotch standing before us, then finally heard her report: “Woooooooooooo!”
We cheered and hugged. “Limo! Limo! Limo!” we chanted.
“It’s so beautiful!” she squealed from above. “I’ve never felt anything like—”
Fwoooooop. Her body began to get sucked through the sunroof, her feet and legs dangling from the ceiling of the limo. Carl grabbed one leg and started pulling on it. He yelled for Shane to grab the other leg. They pulled as hard as they could, eventually bringing her body back down to where her feet touched the floor of the limo again. They paused for a moment. It was quiet. Then—“Wooooooooo!”
Everyone visibly relaxed. Carl grabbed a ginger ale from the fridge.
“That was a close one.” He rubbed the cold can against his forehead.
“Nobody here judges you for lying about riding in a limo. None of us have ever been in a limo before. It’s no big deal. Frankly, I’m a little flattered you’d lie.”
Fwooooop. This time her legs cleared the sunroof and disappeared from view. And with that Joanna was gone.
“This is not OK!” Carl shouted. “What is going on, Morgan? Talk to us! This is really freaking me out right now.”
Morgan started crying. I sprang to her defense.
“Leave her alone, man! You’re upsetting her!” I put my arm around her and set her head against my shoulder to cry on. She obliged. It felt good. It felt right.
“I’m just really scared right now.” Carl said. “This is seriously some weird shit.”
“Where did they go, Morgan?” Shane asked. Morgan cried harder.
“Are they coming back?” Carl said. “Can you at least tell us that?”
“I don’t know,” she said. “I’ve never been in a limo before either!”
I couldn’t believe it. She lied about being in a limo? But why? Could she have been trying to impress me? If she truly was indifferent about what I thought of her, she could have just told the truth. It seemed to me that she lied because my opinion of her, even in some small way, mattered. My heart was racing. My head was spinning. What a night this was turning out to be.
There was a loud thud and Jennifer tumbled back into the limo through the sunroof, her ballgown now missing. She lay on the floor of the limo stark naked, clutching at herself, screaming and wailing. She had a beautiful body that the dress she’d worn that night did not do justice. I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I was transfixed by her breasts. I’d never seen a girl’s bare breasts before in the flesh, and now that it was actually happening I was completely unprepared. I must have looked like such a creep just gawking at her naked body. But hey, I was just your average red-blooded American teenager, right?
Shane knelt down by her side and cradled her head in his lap. While he tried to calm her down, Joanna dropped in through the sunroof, still clothed. She slithered over to a corner of the limo, wrapped her arms around her knees, and rocked back and forth. She had a distant, glassy look in her eyes.
“Joanna, talk to me!” Carl yelled. “What happened? Are you OK? Can you hear me?”
Between Carl’s booming pleas and Jennifer’s insane shrieks, things were getting pretty loud and intense. Morgan started screaming, “I want to go home!” I snapped into what my dad called “Man Mode” and took control of the situation. I grabbed Morgan by the sides of her pretty blonde head and held her face to face with me.
“We are going to get through this, OK? You are going to be just fine.” I could see in her eyes she was softening, no doubt feeling more comfortable and secure in my arms now that I was taking control. “Nobody here judges you for lying about riding in a limo. None of us have ever been in a limo before. It’s no big deal. Frankly, I’m a little flattered you’d lie.” The corners of her mouth ticked up a notch. It was working. I continued. “I know we’re just going to prom as friends. I know that. And I may not be as rich and popular and athletic as Kyle. But I can promise you, Morgan, that I’ll do everything I can tonight to make sure that you will never regret saying yes to me. I’ll make sure that this is a prom night neither one of us will ever forget.” I was now shouting over Jennifer’s screams. Why couldn’t Shane shut her up? “We may only have tonight,” I continued, “but I plan on making it count.”
Morgan smiled. I didn’t hesitate. I kissed her. Her eyes grew wide, then narrow, then she surrendered to it and closed her eyes and I felt her kiss me back. If you could ask her about it today she’d probably deny it, but I’m telling you she kissed me back.
“Do you want to take my turn?” I asked. We both looked up towards the sunroof. She nodded. I held her hand and hoisted her up with a hand on her waist. Her slender body glided through the sunroof and I reluctantly let her go. She didn’t shout or cheer or anything undignified like that. She simply slipped off her heels, raised herself up on her toes, and silently waited for which of life’s great mysteries would come next.