It was the inevitable last-minute hitch, jumbled among half a dozen loose ends. Corona del Mar High School junior Hallie Taketa fretted that her beaded shoes would clash with the floor-length white satin prom gown she was about to don.
The shoes may have been white, but Hallie worried that the purple and pink beading peeking out from under her stark white formal would look simply awful. But by 4 p.m. Saturday afternoon, it was too late to buy or borrow another pair, so she consoled herself with the idea that they wouldn't be too noticeable beneath the dress.
Besides, it's not as if her date for the Corona del Mar High prom would mind. When gum-chewing fellow junior Kit Natland arrived, he was wearing high-top sneakers (untied) with his black tuxedo--a fashion statement rivaled only by his Hawaiian-print bow tie and cummerbund.
And their chauffeur, who was to shuttle them with eight other couples to the Anaheim Marriott Hotel in a 28-foot motor home, was clad in Bermuda shorts--under tuxedo jacket, bow tie and cummerbund, of course.
Styles may have changed for prom-night--no more white dinner jackets or borrowing dad's car--but the enthusiasm of Hallie, Kit and their friends proved that the end-of-the-school-year ritual still looms large in the minds of many juniors and seniors.
On Hallie's calendar, the word "PROM!" was crammed in the square reserved for May 16. It may have been a reminder, but it also proved to be a prediction. For while the festivities promised to absorb all of the evening, the preparation involved the better part of her day--if not her date's.
"Boys are so boring," Hallie sighed, acknowledging a crucial difference between the sexes. "Five minutes before they leave, they get ready."
In contrast to Kit's casual style, Hallie was aiming for subdued glamour. After trying out several styles at a beauty salon in Newport Beach's Fashion Island, she left with her hair swept to one side, held in place by a comb and teased into a froth.
Once home, Hallie's claim that she was "totally calm" was supported by the even strokes with which she painted her nails a demure shade of pink while reading the latest issue of a fashion magazine.
After drying her nails with a hair dryer, it was time for the real task: applying makeup.
This prompted a search for mascara, then the sudden realization that she had left her favorite eye shadow at school. Deciding to make do, she began melting eyeliner pencil to create the right effect.
The feminine ritual wasn't complete, however, until she had a man's opinion. "Daddy, is this lipstick too bright?" she asked her father, radiologist Dr. Richard Taketa. He nodded his approval, then took her aside to make sure his eldest child had "a quarter for a phone call."
Once zipped into her dress, Hallie began the painstaking process of selecting just the right pieces of jewelry. "This totally needs long earrings," Hallie declared of her strapless gown. A pair of dangling rhinestone earrings were declared "tacky"; pearls were deemed "not right."
Settling on the tacky rhinestones, Hallie studied her reflection in the mirror, then said in true teen-ager fashion, "I should probably go eat food like Scarlett O'Hara so I don't pig out (at dinner)," she said, referring to the heroine of "Gone With the Wind" whose maid advised her that gentlemen weren't attracted to ladies with hearty appetites.
A short time later, when Kit arrived with another couple, Hallie's parents dissolved into laughter over the sneakers, which both he and fellow junior John Granthem wore.
"I wore dress shoes once, when I was a freshman, and I'll never wear them again," John said.
There followed hurried picture-taking and last-minute parental instructions about curfew, then Hallie and her friends were off to join the rest of the group for more pictures and dinner at the Court House Restaurant in Santa Ana. There was a brief pit stop a Newport Beach hotel suite, rented for pre- and post-prom festivities, then they headed for the main event.
Some may envision prom night as an evening of romance, but Hallie viewed it as a chance to have fun.
"Kit and I are really good friends," the 16-year-old cheerleader said. "I couldn't ask for anything better. There's no pressure, and I don't have to worry about anything--like arguing, or not having a good time.
"I'm just going to have fun. I love to dance, it's one of my most favorite things," she said breathlessly.
Maybe so, but an hour after arriving, Hallie and Kit had yet to take a turn around the dance floor in the banquet hall decorated with a rainbow arch of balloons.
First, there were the all-important prom night pictures. At $10 to $25 a pose, Hallie wanted one with Kit, one with Meredith, and one with just about everyone she knew who was there.
It was a short walk of 100 feet or so between the photo studio and the dance floor. But it was a journey of its own as she stopped repeatedly to hug classmates, admire dresses and hug some more.
"Oh my God! I love your dress!" Hallie would exclaim over and over, followed by "She's, like, my best friend," which applied to nearly every girl she met.
Finally, though, it was time to dance. After rounding up her date, a determined Hallie headed toward the dim lights and the crowded dance floor, stopping only long enough to kick off the beaded shoes.