For some reason, I had entertained bewilderingly romantic notions of what it would be like to be a chaperone. Perhaps I've watched too many movies, but I had images of students dancing awkwardly with their dates with a few getting a bit too close for comfort, necessitating one of the chaperone's to encourage "leaving room for the Holy Spirit."
In short, I think I was imagining the 1950's.
In reality, I experienced the full depths and depravity of Sodom and Gomorrah, complete with the sights and smells.
To begin with, the line "Leave Room for the Holy Spirit" was wholly inapplicable. "Leave room for oxygen" would have been apt, considering that nearly 1,000 students managed to cram themselves into a relatively small area. We chaperone's were encouraged to criss-cross through the crowds which meant pushing, cajoling, and barreling through a sea of pubescent humanity.
I, of course, had little familiarity with much of the music played. Then again, I spend more time listening to Bach than to Black Eyed Peas, Liszt than to Lady Gaga. Some of the tunes were pretty catchy, though, and almost all of it had a good beat.
Without being too graphic, I was astonished at the style of dance that has evolved. I remember being thinking that having my arms around a girl threatened a mortal sin. Pressed face-to-face, such slow dancing seemed almost risque. Not once, as I recall, was the Unchained Melody or even some non-sweat inducing, non-endorphine producing piece of music played. And if front-to-front dancing was risque for me 15 years ago, let me say only this: the dancing I witnessed last Friday seemed as though it belonged on an Animal Planet special on mammalian reproduction.
After three hours, I was wrecked. The entirety of my person had become a convergence of sense experience: I was covered in sweat (my own and that of others) and glitter, and I reeked of Axe and a hybrid mixture of perfumes. I was so grateful at 10:00 when I could go to the residence, wash my face, change my clothes, and head out to BW 3's to meet the other chaperones for a tasty beverage and some food.
On Monday, two of my 8th-period sophomores approached my podium with impish grins. "What kind of sauce did you have on your wings, Mr. Duns?" they asked. I stared at them for a moment, until they started to giggle, telling me that they had been sitting at BW 3's when the chaperones arrived. My students noted in particular that I had two large beers --- although, for full disclosure, I hardly consider Bud Light beer --- and wanted to know if I had a designated driver. Is this my fate for the next three years, that I can't even have a cheap, watery, low-calorie beer without having to look over my shoulder?!?!?!
All told, I did have a really fun evening. The only lingering effect is that every time I catch whiff of Axe body spray, I begin to worry that a sea of glitter-covered, sweaty, gyrating flesh is going to envelop me as bodies dance out of time to incoherent lyrics set to music with a tribal beat.
Come to think of it, perhaps I am suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.....