As I stood outside my front door in the pre-dawn gloom swatting at the biting gnats and waiting for my Faithful Hound to finish watering the grass, it dawned on me that we are only one day away from the best day of the school year. Tomorrow hundreds of our best and brightest students will attempt (in some cases for the first time) to conceal their inebriation beneath poorly fitting formal garments in an attempt to make it onto the dance floor where they will feverishly try to procreate with any hapless soul they can reach. That’s right, boys and girls, tomorrow is Prom!
Before you start getting all misty-eyed remembering your prom and musing about how magical a night this is going to be for these students, allow me to share with you how prom is done in this day and age.
First is the selection of your attire for this evening. The only consideration for the young ladies when they are choosing a gown (I’m using the word gown here for fun, as some of these outfits are scandalously short) is price. It doesn’t matter at all what it looks like, so long as it is slightly more expensive than you can afford. For the men, choosing a suit is largely a matter of speed; which one can they try on and rent in 5 minutes or less?
After the outfits have been purchased and donned, it is time to “hook up” with all the other people with whom you’re sharing the limo. Long gone is the quaintly romantic idea that you will be sharing a special night with your significant other. Since romance is already off the table, why not be economical and share the ride with 20 or so of your drunkest buddies? Of course the idea of the limo rental is decidly old school for these kids and several of them have at this point abandoned all pretense and now rent a drunk bus to get them around town.
At this point nearly everyone will have had something to drink and fully half of your party will be hungry. This is where you’ll stop off at a really classy place like Wendy’s or Eat n Park. It’s important that you don’t eat at a restaurant with table cloths because you don’t want anyone to think that you’re on a date or anything as that could mess up your plans for later.
After your meal it’s time to make your way to the prom. The goal now is to drink as much as possible without impairing your ability to walk upright in the hopes that you’ll make it past the chaperones at the door. It’s a good thing that the fumes from Altoids aren’t flammable or chaperones around the country would be engulfed in flames.
Once inside the doors it becomes absolutely imperative that you in no way talk or make eye contact with your date. In fact it is now accepted practice to text or call anyone at all as long as it is someone else. I’m not entirely sure of the reason for this behavior, but I have two theories. The first is that our youth have become so dependent on electronic forms of communication that they are uncomfortable speaking face to face. The second (and more likely) is that if you give the impression that you are on a date, this will seriously crimp your style for the next part of the evening.
Once a sufficient number of cool kids arrive at prom (the method by which students determine who is cool and what order they should arrive in still mystifies me) the “dancing” begins. Back in the day when I attended prom there were two kinds of dancing; The Jerk and The Sway. The Jerk was the generic name for any up tempo dancing and usually involved the kinds of motions also associated with seizures. The Sway was the dance for slow songs whereby couples would hang onto each other and rock back and forth until one or both of you succumbed to seasickness. Today’s dancing is something totally different and basically consists of poses taken from the Kama Sutra put to a club beat. I think that modern prom dancing is the reason for the group rides and the steadfast avoidance of your erstwhile date. Prom dancing seems to be fairly egalitarian and any social norms that would preclude any person dancing with any other (or increasingly, several others) would be considered poor form.
After the King and Queen have been crowned and the last of the spiked punch has been drunk the students stagger back to their drunk buses and (presumably) go home, leaving the chaperones (who are now up WAY past their bedtimes) to clean up the mess and talk about how wonderful the evening must have been for those kids. Of course I’ll be one of those hapless chaperones on hand to witness the whole sordid affair mainly because Mrs. RW likes to see the students all dressed up. I’ll be the guy standing beside the bathrooms making sure that everyone knows that they are not co-ed facilities. Mine is a life of glamour, but someone has to do it!