It’s the day before Lee Academy’s senior prom, and Elaine Laplante feels a little jittery. For one thing, it took four months to find the right dress. She knows everything is set, but she still has these powerful bursts of feeling as she imagines how awesome it will be.
“It’s almost like it’s not real. Amazing. Great. Wonderful. Scary. It’s not really scary,” Elaine said Friday. “It’s really different. Sort of surreal.”
And then, almost as an afterthought: “It’s been so long since we have been at school.”
Elaine and her husband, Arthur Laplante, are 54 years old and live in Lagrange. Best friends in Lee Academy’s Class of 1984, they got married last August and they’re going to Lee’s prom to make up for missing it 35 years ago, Arthur said.
“One time she said, ‘Why didn’t you ask me out when we were in school?’ I said, ‘I didn’t think you liked me that way, and I didn’t want to ruin our friendship.’ We were in every class together,” said Arthur, a truck driver.
Harris “Butch” Arthers, head of school at the academy, loved the idea of having the Laplantes at the prom. They should fit in well, he said, as guest chaperones.
“The prom here has always been an open event,” Arthers said.
On the night of their prom, Elaine was in the hospital and Arthur wasn’t dating anyone. Both married and divorced twice in the years following graduation, experiences neither likes to recount.
“Yucky situations,” Elaine calls them. “They were mistakes. His and mine. We should have gotten married after high school.”
That 35-year lapse is part of the appeal of the Laplantes’ story, said their friend Tracy Whittier of West Enfield.
“They’re just now finding each other. They have missed all these years of precious moments that are special to young and old couples. They have a lot of catching up to do,” Whittier said.
“This is beautiful for women to see,” Elaine said. “There is so much awful domestic abuse that women get. They tend to give up. But there are wonderful men out there.
“I found one.”