Where I live, it's prom weekend. So that means a trip to my sister's home. It doesn't matter if one of her brood is attending the pivotal high school event or not (this year, her daughter and a close male cousin are both attendees) ... she has the best landscaped property for pictures.
Ah, prom ... fancy dresses, funky tuxedos or suits or kilts or whatever, and the scent of potential teenage hook-ups in the air. The term "prom" is short for "promenade," and some schools still honor the tradition. A co-worker of mine has a daughter in a small rural school system ... only about 300 students in grades 9-12. An hour before the dance officially begins, all student attendees, chaperons, school officials, parents, family, and friends are invited to the school's track and field area (the auditorium at the middle school is used if the weather turns nasty) where the teenage couples "promenade" along a short decorated path and pose for pictures. The local daily and weekly papers always send someone to snap a few pics, and a few parents show up with an entourage that resembles a movie film crew.
But whatever format is followed, proms are a right of passage ... from looking stylish and snagging the "appropriate" date to appearing "cool" while dancing and acting shocked when the most popular kids get named to the "Prom Court."
The prom my niece and cousin (and their respective dates) are attending is what I consider "old school." It's being held in their high school gymnasium and has a tropical theme. A DJ will spin a variety of tunes and closely-monitored punch and snacks will be provided. Consequently, the competitiveness level of this gathering will be focused on the attendees themselves ... where the couples snagged dinner before the dance, if the gown and/or tux is outrageous or scandalous, if they rented a limousine to show off, and how many parties they plan to cram into their schedule before individual curfews hit.
Now my junior prom ... that was most definitely NOT old school. My class really worked to earn money so we could sponsor a helluva event. We washed so many cars and cleaned up so many yards and garages that we should have received some type of presidential award or citation from the EPA. Anyway, we were able to have a sit-down affair at a popular lodge and supply a pretty decent band and a DJ to fill in during band breaks and the last hour of the dance. The lodge helped coordinate all the food and decorations, and the facility had all these walking paths and outdoor pavilions that worked great to keep us entertained while the prom moved from dinner mode to dancing. We even had an ingenious class vice president ... ME! ... who came up with the idea of auctioning off 25 song dedications during the night. Hey, I figured if some Mom and Dad wanted to make their daughter feel extra special or if some goofball wanted to spend his part-time job money helping "seal the deal" with his date, our class might as well benefit. We raised just over $1,100 for our Senior Gift Fund. There were a few private afterparties, but our class officers brokered a deal with a small two-theatre cinema to rent the facility for a late showing so that everyone had an additional option for post-event wind down.
But even with all the "big city" style, there wasn't the drama that I heard my relatives discuss as we moved about my sisters well-kept acreage. One of my cousin's friends wasn't currently "seeing" anyone, so a friend of a friend introduced him to a girl via Facebook. They were physically meeting for the first time tonight at the dance ... five hours minimum with someone you just met, eek!!
Another story centered around a sophomore cheerleader who, unhappy with the dress her mother purchased for the prom, stole a credit card and charged a $700 dress. The crime was just recently discovered. "Does she get to go to the dance?" I asked to no one in particular. "Well, sure ... her date's a senior," my niece answered, like I was the dumbest person on the planet for asking. Apparently a senior boy trumps things like honesty and fraud.
Then there was the semi-popular senior girl who waited and waited for the junior baseball stud to ask her to prom. She flirted and hinted and phoned and texted ... and so did her friends. It was just a formality, they all thought, until the baseball guy asked someone else. Devastated and panicked, the girl figured she'd either skip the dance or just go with some friends as a "stag" group. Sounds reasonable, I thought, until the story took a turn that would make the writers of an '80s nighttime soap like Dynasty or Dallas proud. It seems that the girl's best friend's brother ... a freshman in college who had always had a bit of a crush on his sister's cute friend ... offered to be her prom escort. Arrangements were made ... like renting a tux and finding a ride from four hours away ... and everyone was happy. Until last Tuesday ... four days ago ... when the baseball guy dropped his date and asked this girl to the prom. And, bite me in the ass, she said YES. And then she texted her best friend and asked her to thank her brother, but she'd made "other arrangements."
It was a few seconds before I realized the group of family had moved on to a corner of the lawn with a bench and arbor set up, leaving me behind sputtering like a stalled engine. Did today's teenagers really have such little regard for the personal feelings of others? Did this girl in question have parents or was she raised by extremely ill-mannered wolves? My proms, in general, had went off without a hitch. My senior year, I did ask a girl from another school that I'd met on a church club canoeing trip. We'd went out for pizza once, and a movie another time. I didn't expect any surprises ... she said she was wearing her hair up and that her dress was eggplant, what more did I need to know? Oh, I don't know, like the fact that she was impetuous and the day before the dance went and had her hair cut extremely short ... and streaked platinum blond. Or that her "eggplant" dress was sexy purple sleeveless number with a neckline that stopped just north of her navel. She was gorgeous and my peers thought I'd hired a hooker. My principal thought I'd hired a hooker. I wasn't sure I hadn't hired a hooker either, because later on, during a stroll outside the prom venue, my date knocked me down in the brush and "had her way with me." I didn't get the deposit back on my tux because of the tar and soil stains and I probably should have had a dentist look at my teeth ... I had a smile that wouldn't go away for about two weeks!!
POINT OF RANT: I wonder what my date's doing now?