Friday, March 07, 2008

Opening salvos in the battle over prom

I understand it's only March. There's still snow on the ground. There's still snow in the forecast.

But that didn't stop Younger Daughter and Long Suffering Spouse from having a dust-up last night about the upcoming prom.

Two months -- at least! -- before the Big Day and already, apparently, it is the only topic of conversation at Younger Daughter's all-girls school. She's contributed to the down payment on some sort of limo. More money is coming due for tickets. And many of Younger Daughter's friends are planning dress buying expeditions for this weekend.

These facts may have precipitated the discussion, but the conversation quickly zoomed beyond.

Prom, you see, is not just a formal dance where high school seniors on the verge of adulthood dress up like adults and have their first night on the town.

First, adults don't dress up anymore. I love to watch Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers whirl around swanky nightclubs in elegant formal wear... but I don't think I've actually worn formal attire since my wedding.

Second, the kids don't dress up either, especially the girls. Oh, they spend lots of money -- only to wind up looking like the tramps in music videos.

Then there's the "music" -- the profanity-laced "lyrics" celebrating misogyny, crime, casual sex -- and the "dancing" -- well, let's just say that Fred and Ginger wouldn't recognize it as such.

I used to say that prom was a pagan ceremony where any remaining virgins were rounded up and ritually deflowered.

Hmmmmm. Come to think of it, it is perhaps because I gave voice to that theory when I was in high school, over 30 years ago, that I didn't get a prom date.

The passage of time, however, has not substantially softened my harsh opinion of proms.

My kids have all attended Catholic high schools. Single gender Catholic high schools. Even so, they have not been entirely sheltered from the excesses of modern culture. (I have, on occasion, listened to the CD's Younger Daughter has made for the car that she forgets to remove on those rare days when I actually get to drive the vehicle.) My consolation is that my children may have been more sheltered from the common culture than would have been true had they attended a co-ed public high school.

Bad as the "dance" may be, it is the before and after prom activities that really turn prom into a festival of wretched excess. Somewhere, in a more innocent time, someone suggested that the gang all get together the day after the dance for a picnic.

Now, many parents book hotel rooms for their little darlings to do whatever they please after the prom. (No, we won't.) Limos -- or even buses -- are hired so the kids can drink without fear of a DUI arrest. The kids don't go home and then rendezvous the next day for the picnic -- they crash at the hotel and go out for breakfast. Maybe they make it home for dinner the following night.

Fortunately, my two older sons had baseball games on the day after their senior proms. I'm not even certain that Oldest Son went at all. Younger Daughter insists that we let Middle Son stay out all night after another prom that he attended -- and under the inflexible principles of stare decisis we must now agree, supposedly, to let Younger Daughter stay out all night also.

Older Daughter went to her prom. On a blind date. With some peculiar-looking boy whose first name was that of a cartoon character. I never learned his last name, or whether he in fact had one. Long Suffering Spouse thinks I was dispatched to pick them up from a post-prom restaurant after the promised limo failed to arrive. If this is true, I have suppressed the event entirely.

Younger Daughter has no boyfriend, although she has a number of admirers. But this one is expected to take that girl and the other one is still dating someone else, though neither knows why, and there are similar stories for all the rest. It seems quite likely that Younger Daughter will wind up with a 'fix up' date, too.

For this she needs to spend hundreds of dollars on a dress, and hundreds more on a limo and tickets and dinner? (It's her prom -- and this is the modern age -- she'll be expected to pay.) And she wants to stay out all night besides?

It's going to be a long couple of months along the prom battlefront.


Anonymous said...

I think I would have been quite satisfied to have skipped out on prom-but I went. It was okay-though, no after parties for me. Not my style and I had to work the next day.

My next sister's senior prom is coming up, but she plans to skip. Not any luck for my youngest sister though. She lives for those things.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

This sounds like a complex situation!

Jeni said...

I'm so glad I grew up in a much simpler era! Back then, if you had no date, you didn't attend the prom -no singles allowed. (Back then, at our school, the "Prom" was actually a junior class sponsored event. Because I had no boyfriend at the time, I didn't attend MY prom but when I was a senior, I did attend the prom that year with a guy from the junior class from our church - just friends, not "boyfriend" per se. I borrowed a "cocktail" type dress from a friend for the event. We did go with some other kids to a small diner type restaurant, after the dance for burgers and fries. Nothing fancy. My younger daughter went pretty much the same route with respect to her dress for her prom - borrowed one. Older daughter didn't go to the prom but rather to the "after-prom" which was very casual -jeans. My son took his steady girlfriend and THEY had to go for dinner prior to the prom at a very upper class "fine dining" establishment, then the prom, then after prom. It cost him a small fortune with the tickets, the meal, the rented tux, etc. (Oh, that reminds me -in my day -no tux -a dress sports coat was fine!) Yep, give me the simpler times! I do not envy you and your spouse with this upcoming event AT ALL!

landgirl said...

wow, prom. Even if I were back in the States now, it would be beyond my experience. I went to prom with a friend and afterwards we went out driving and talking.
My daughter went to prom with a classmate whose mother was not American so wehen she heard what the outrageous expenses were gonna be, she called me up and asked if we couldn't do something more sensible. My daughter was amenable. She said she was only going to the prom so she could go to the after prom parties with her friends.
Our neighbor mentioned that his daughter is going off to the Young Farmers ball. I asked what was her dress like--suspecting that he would not have a clue. He gave me such a blank look that we both laughed. I don't know what they do after the prom but I would guess that hotel rooms and limos are not likely accompaniments.

The Beach Bum said...

I remember my prom night very well. I was one of the few seniors that brought a young lady from a different school to the Prom.

I wore a Black Tux (my mom tied my tie) and she wore a blue gown.I gave her an Orchid and I had a white Carnation.

We doubled with a friend and his prom date. My dad had offered to drive us to the prom and then pick us up when the prom was over. He told me that he didn’t want me to drive the car to downtown Chicago (The Palmer House).

What can possibly be more embarrassing than having your dad drive you to the prom?

We parked in the Grant Park underground and ate at the Burghoff on Adams street.

After the prom, 8 of us went to the “Rocks” behind the Adler Planetarium to watch the “Submarine Races”. We did a little smooching and some light petting, and talked about our futures after graduation.

The next day we had a picnic at Bang Lake in Wauconda. Being that this was in May, the water was very cold. A few of us went in and swam to the water slide, if only to prove our masculinity. We were freezing our asses off, but didn't let this fact to be known. The girls all laughed at us.

I had a great time that I will remember for the rest of my life.

No Limos, no Hotel rooms, no alcohol and no sex. But it was a great time nonetheless.

The Beach Bum

Kacey said...

I'm pretty sure I had sex on my prom night. Unfortunately, I didn't go to The Prom, because I had run off and gotten married in October of my senior year. After fifty-four years , I am still happy to be married to him, but sorry that we couldn't afford a dress or a bid to the big dance. Some things are special all your life ... for me... it was children in my twenties and nursing school in my forties. Prepare to be overwhelmed, Dad!

Ellee Seymour said...

When I saw my son in his dinner jacket for his school prom it brought a tear to my eye, he looked so handsome and grown up. And the girls here in the UK do dress up too, they hire beautiful dresses and limos too. My younger son will be going to his school prom next year and I'm already looking forward to it.
I know your daughter will look beautiful, you will be a very proud father.

Shelby said...

I never went to my prom. My junior year. The guy I had a date with stood me up.. called me a couple hours before the deal, and said he was sick. Turns out, he went with somebody else.

My senior year, the boy I was seriously dating - and who went to a different school - asked a different girl to his prom.


See, he thought that since I was going to ask him to mine - he might as well ask someone else to his (since we were going 'anyway' to my prom).

Well, he was wrong. I didin't ask him to my prom. And I've never regretted it.

I let him ask someone else to his wedding also. He regretted it.

TroyBoy said...

Spoken like a true Curmudgeon!