(this column originally posted March 2011)

So, I don’t go out much and I really don’t go to parties much, but it just so happens that I was invited to the prom last week.

Okay, it was a birthday party a dear old high school friend of mine was throwing and the theme was, “’80’s Prom Night.”

Now, normally I hate theme parties. They require thinking, planning, shopping, spending and that’s way too much of a commitment for a hermit like me who usually RSVPs “maybe” when invited anywhere.

I like to decide last minute if I’m going to attend a party. Usually the decision is based on three things: am I mentally prepared to socialize, retaining water or horny?

But when it’s a theme party your ass is going whether you like it or not because by that point you’ve invested dough into the whole thing.

I took my daughter with me shopping to vintage shops and even told her she could could pick my dress.

Most people might be scared to give such a task to a 9 year old, but I know my kid is more concerned about being humiliated by her mom than wanting to humiliate her mom, so I had no doubt she would choose wisely.

Out came the pink, blue, green, black and yellow taffeta. While sucking in my gut trying on something that resembled a skin tight doily with a yellow satin bow my daughter asked,

Did you really dress like this at your prom?

In my particular case the answer was no. I’m not sure if it was due to my lack of fashion sense at 18 or my way ahead of my time fashion sense at 18 but unlike the sea of black lace Madonna-esque outfits bopping side to side to Simple Minds in the 80’s, my prom dress was a red, suede flapper dress with red pumps to match.

Not this time.

Now I was staring at a much older me, wearing a cupcake pink number with rose bulbs on the shoulders and fingerless black lace gloves.

You sure this is the one, baby?

She confirmed it by zipping me up to the point where it was impossible to get out of the damn thing without the assistance of someone’s help.

On the drive home my daughter wanted to know all about my prom—who did I go with, what was it like, where was it, and on and on.

I obviously couldn’t tell her that mommy was high as a kite on drugs and alcohol through most of it so I tried to fill in the blanks as best I could.

Well, honey, nobody asked me to the prom, so I took my best friend, Mike.

Right there I could see the “Oh, mommy, I had no idea you were a loser in high school” look on her face. She wanted to know more. Kids always want to know more.

Um, it was at a hotel and there was food and music… ya know. That sort’ve thing.

The truth is my prom night is just one long drug-induced blur. I swear, I don’t remember dancing or eating or even taking a picture. I do remember that my mom decided to check herself into a hotel room for the night leaving the house to me and my buddy date and my best friend Jessica and her boyfriend date (yeah, she had a real date — one that took pictures, condoms and promise rings).

What’s funny is that the only exciting thing that happened that night was that one of my cats chased an enormous rat into the house and so at 5 a.m. four wasted 18 year old’s were chasing a rodent around trying to get it to go inside a shoe box before Felix ate it.

Yep, that was prom night. Not much to tell, but it certainly didn’t resemble something out of High School Musical, that’s for damn sure.  Nope. Not an uplifting dance number in sight.

And now here I was getting ready for the prom… the second time around.

While I was getting dressed, I kept thinking about an 18 year old girl I once knew. A girl riddled with insecurities, confusion, misplaced anger and fear. A girl who hated everything about herself. A girl who couldn’t possibly know that one day she would grow up to be happily shopping at a vintage store with her beautiful 9-year-old daughter. A girl no one asked to the prom.

That girl had a rough time in high school. Now, standing in front of the mirror in my pink dress and black pumps, I was looking forward to giving that girl a chance to go to the prom… again.

I’ll tell you, friends, it was fun. Really fun. For starters, I was sober. And I went alone. And I drove myself. And I remembered every moment.

I hugged friends. I showed pictures of my child. I laughed at memories and best of all…  I danced. I danced and danced and I let that girl know how happy her life turned out to be.

Maybe theme parties aren’t so bad after all. They give you an opportunity to do something you might never have done before.  And sometimes, just sometimes, they let you do it all over again… only better.