The girls swapped bobby pins. The boys bummed cigarettes. The girls pulled up their stockings. The boys readjusted their cummerbunds. The girls took off their shoes and rubbed their feet. The boys splashed water on their red faces.

Saturday night at the Mayflower Hotel. Prom night for 300 Springbrook High School juniors and seniors and their dates.

Upstairs the Grand Ballroom was packed. A rock band and a deejay. Photo sessions. Chaperons. Trays of fruit, assorted cold cuts and pastries. And a dance floor of thumping, pulsing, swinging teen-agers.

Downstairs, the restrooms. Past the pay phones. Through a broad door. And to the right, crisis central for the girls. To the left, a bunker of retreat for the boys.

A prom night symphony of excitement, anxiety, gossip and running water.

Stall Talk

The ladies' room door swung open with a hush. Four pairs of heels clicked across the tile floor. Stall doors were shut with loud, reverberating slams. Dresses rustled.

"Ohhhh, darn my hair."

"You guys, there's nothing to close this door with."

"You guys, I can't even breathe."

"Owwwch!"

"Jenny, you must wait for me."

"I will, Laura."

"I'm like bursting out of my dress."

"Too much."

"I wanted strapless."

"Wonderful."

"Already I ripped my stockings ... I ripped my stockings at the top."

"Did you really?"

"Let's go."

"I look huge in this dress!"

"Are they taking tickets at the door?"

"Michele, where'd you eat?"

"Flagship."

"This dress is sooo big. It's a Size 7 and I wear a Size 3. That's why it's gathering in the back."

"Are you two together?"

"Uh-uh. I just took him cause he didn't have nobody to take."

Porcelain Talk

Oh, to be young, tuxedoed and surrounded by marble.

"Gawd! This is the nicest bathroom I've ever seen!" a teen-ager exclaimed.

That is not to say that the ornate men's room, adorned with gold-framed paintings, was without detractors.

"This place is a drag," asserted a youth from inside one of the oak-doored stalls.

A friend, three stalls down, concurred. "Uh-huh, man, I know. It's too fancy, it's too clean."

Kim's Bag

"He came over to my house, and I didn't have a purse. I was looking for a bag, so I just decided not to take a bag," Kim Gale, 17, explained. "Then I got over to his house -- my parents came over, too, to take pictures -- and I didn't have a purse. So his mom was like, 'Well, I can give you a purse.' "

The Confession

"I'm so scared to even touch her," a boy whispered to a friend as they straightened their bow ties in front of the mirror.

"Why, man?"

"Oh, she's so shy and all."

Kim and the Cummerbund

"This is the thing," Kim said. "I knew I was going to wear a mint green dress. And I had given him a swatch of the fabric to match his cummerbund. And he said he couldn't match it, so he got purple! I was just like, Ohhh my God! Purple and green."

Purple and green! Kim turned her head to the right, covered her face with her hand, peeked out and blinked two blue eyes wide with horror.

"So I got these flowers to match -- so they would tie in with his cummerbund," Kim explained, as she grazed the cluster of royal purple statice in her blond hair.

Matching up with a cummerbund is, as Kim's new friend Kellie West said, "really very important."

Details, Details

"We've been going out for three years," Mike O'Neil, a 17-year-old junior, said of his date, Kelly O'Connell, a senior at the Silver Spring school. "We broke up last summer, but we got back together. I don't even know her address. I mean, I know where she lives. But I don't know her address."

I Dunno

Colleen Colt definitely knew his name. That wasn't a problem. "Aaron Sperling," she said. That was the name of her date. Her boyfriend. But there was, she admitted, at least one gap in her information. "I don't know ... I have no idea ... I've known him since this year, but he transferred and I don't know if he's a sophomore or a junior. I'm not sure."

The Chaperon's Worst Fear

"The biggest nightmare," said Raphael Bennett, an English teacher at the Silver Spring school, "hopefully is that none of them will come in drunk."

The Nightmare Comes True

"This is great. I need about 10 more beers, though," someone said.

"Where the {heck} is the {confounded} bar?!" a youth inquired.

"Outside, man," came the reply.

"Not for me, man. I'm 19."

From another quarter -- the stall for the handicapped: "How much you got, man?" Followed by the sound of a brown paper bag being opened. "Didn't they ask you what's in the bag, man?"

"{Shucks} no."

Mirror Talk

"We were dancing!"

"Were you?"

"Ahhhhhhhh. I'm so haaaaa-ppy."

"I wish my hair would stay in place."

"C'mon, Mar -- you look so good."

"Are you sure you're okay? Why don't you get something to calm your stomach?"

"I'm okay."

"Mary, I'll check you later."

"I can't work with your hand in the way."

"There. This doesn't need to be in there."

"Look at my hair -- it stays."

"Use this there -- use this bobby pin here."

"Want me to strap this?"

"I just want to get it in right."

"Do you have any extra bobby pins, cause look at this."

One Memorable Man

"I took one of our exchange students," Jon Freedman, a 17-year-old senior, said while adjusting the winged corners of his collar ("Do you put these in or out?"). "Ulrika. Don't ask me her last name, though. She's from Sweden. She had a dress and she had tickets, and I just couldn't let her miss this.

"At first I didn't really want to go with her," confessed Freedman. "But now I'm having a really good time and I'm glad I came.

"It was almost a mistake," he sighed.

(Almost a crime is more like it. Ulrika, whose last name is Akesson, lives up to all those stereotypes about the beauty of Swedish women.)

Although he had friends who had rented a room upstairs for a postprom party, Freedman said he and Ulrika would probably skip it. "I wouldn't want to introduce her to things she might not want to be introduced to."

The Check

"Dinner was too much," one astounded prom goer said, shaking his head. "$586."

Truth-Telling

Three senior boys, holding court by the towel dispenser, mused on the objective of prom night.

"Having fun, being seen," said the first, donning gray tails.

"To tell you the truth," said the second, "I'm not here to have sex with my date. I just want to have a good time."

The third, hands flashing, went into polygraph mode.

"Beep ... beep ... beep ... beep ... Lie detector. Beep ... beep ... beep ..."

Kellie

"Yoooou don't go to Springbrook," accused Thalia Cooper, a senior dressed in lace, her hair punked. She had dropped herself on a little upholstered vanity chair in front of the mirror and was staring up at Kellie.

"Yes I do," said Kellie West, 15.

"Really? Wowwwwww!" Shrieks of amazement bounced off the mirrors. Three or four seniors in satin, lace and lame' sank into shrill spasms of disbelief.

"I'm a freshman," Kellie said.

"Ohhh my God, you're kidding!"

Kim and Kellie left the bathroom.

"She looks like a senior ... Oh my God ... She looks like a senior ..."

The Most Awesome Girl At Springbrook High

"A lot of people would say Lisa Roberts," offered Steve Koenick, an 18-year-old senior, who was decked out in white tails, gloves and cane a` la David Lee Roth.

So who was the lucky guy who brought Lisa Roberts to the prom?

"I think Rob Bolo," said Koenick.

"No he didn't," interrupted Donny Hinds, an 18-year-old senior. "She slapped him the end of beach week."

"I did slap Rob at beach week, but it was just a misunderstanding," Lisa said later. And Rob and Lisa did come to the prom together. Said Rob laughingly of Donny Hinds, "He's just a biff. He's the gossiper of Springbrook High."

Stockings

"Yes, my stockings are falling down," one senior said to her legs. She positioned herself on one of the little upholstered stools, hoisted the layers of her light green dress up around her lap, stretched out her leg and proceeded to pull up the limp, lifeless stockings.

One hour later, another senior flew in to the room and announced, "I think I'm going to take my stockings off before I leave," plunked herself down on the same stool and began to peel off the shiny netting.

"What are you doing?" one of her friends asked, as she dangled a beige undergarment from her hand. "Taking my stockings off. This is what I wore underneath, cause my dress is see-through ... I can't talk. I can't do two things at once ... Would you put some of this -- can you see where? Right there."

Her friend squeezed out a little cortisone cream and smeared it on her back. "I did something stupid so that I would have a little color against my dress," she explained. "I went to a tanning salon and I didn't put enough suntan lotion on."

Smoking in the Boys' Room

Two 18-year-old seniors from Gaithersburg High School were attending their third prom of the season. "We had the same dates for the first two, but these {girls from Springbrook} are new ones," one explained.

Were they their steadies now?

"They're supposed to be," he laughed. "They don't know."

His buddy was getting antsy. "Let's go," he implored his professional prom partner.

"Wait a minute, man," the first one said, indicating that he wanted to finish his cigarette. "I play football and I don't want anyone to see me smoking."

Colleen's Bag

Item: One black sequin clutch purse that Colleen Colt borrowed from Susan Hippchen's mom.

Inventory: Two prom programs, pale pink and embossed on the covers with silver roses and the words " 'Forever Young' Prom '87 June 6"; blush; one Maybelline Ice Pink lipstick; one smoky blue eyeliner; and one tea rosebud that had fallen out of her corsage.

Coming Back

Billy Alahouzos, a graduate of Springbrook and now a 19-year-old freshman at the University of Maryland, was attending his prom a year late. "I didn't go to my senior prom last year," he said. "The week before was my girlfriend's prom at Kennedy {High School}, and I sort of wasted all my money there."

And what became of her?

"She was the kind of girl who was good looking and knew it," Alahouzos flatly asserted. "We kind of cut each other loose."

Oh No, Not That

Leaning over the counter, peering into the mirror, mouth wide open. The annoyance of discovery: "I can see it, I can tell. I'm getting another infection in my gums."

The Only Sophomore at the Prom?

Axel Klingler, 16, was the only sophomore at the junior-senior prom. He was accompanying Pricilla Kim, an 18-year-old junior. "A 10th-grader invited by an 11th-grader!" exclaimed Klingler's pal Andy Rising, a 16-year-old junior, who had brought Kim's sister Linda. "He's two years younger!"

"July 5 I'll turn 17," protested the baby-faced Klingler.

"By the way," Rising added. "They put him in the freshman section of the yearbook."

Worry Beads

"Oh my God," said Kim Thomas with a tone of tragedy in her low voice. She had been sitting in a chair in the narrow lounge of the ladies' room, staring silently at her chest with total concentration.

The bodice of her white dress was dripping with beads and sequins, making her, she suggested, look like Glinda the Good Witch.

"Oh my God, a bead's missing."

"Is it?" one of her friends asked.

"Don't come home without all the beads," another friend chanted.

"Well, I guess I'll be staying at somebody's house tonight," Kim said solemnly, staring at the barely discernible gap in a row of shimmering beads.

"$346."

But Seriously

Rob Wendel and Pat Charles, both 18-year-old seniors, and Denny Hewitt, a 17-year-old senior, lingered by the green marble sinks.

"This is the last time we'll see each other for a long time," Wendel said, slapping his buddies on their backs.

"It strikes me as odd. I've come close with these guys. I don't know, I guess I'll miss them."