Reflections of a Southern Yankee: The Problem with Prom

I was recently asked by my editorial director if I would be willing to write an article about prom from a man’s perspective. Immediately, I cringed (seriously, I cringed). My first thought was, what on God’s green earth could a 48-year-old man who hasn’t been to prom in 30 years even write about? My next thought was about the horrible implications that would have occurred had Marty McFly not been able to bring his would-be parents together at the “enchantment under the sea” dance. (My mind can jump around a lot.) Forcing my mind back into focus, I thought about my own proms – nothing very noteworthy there. Honestly, they really have no meaning for me now in life. So then, I thought, how do I write about something that I really couldn’t care less about and I certainly never think about? (Unless, of course, I get an email asking if I would be willing to write about it.)

That’s when I decided I would play devil’s advocate and tackle the issues with prom that may not be very popular to talk about but still certainly exist. 

Let’s start with the pressure, shall we? Not everyone is the “Ken doll” quarterback on the high school football team. That guy had it easy. The salivating girls were practically lined up at his locker taking numbers like they were waiting for a half pound of smoked gouda at the delicatessen. Guys like me (who weighed 100 pounds soaking wet as a senior) didn’t have that luxury. Asking a girl to prom was like asking your parents for all the juicy details about the night they made you – it gave you the heebie jeebies. Once you finally got over your fears, and the girl basically gave in and agreed, you were forced into planning for something the likes of which hadn’t been seen since the invasion of Normandy. 

First, you’ve got to find an establishment that rents tuxedos. Then, you have to actually go there and let some random person get pretty darn intimate with you and a measuring tape. After you’ve essentially been molested, you have to pay an exorbitant amount of money for something you’ll wear for a few hours and then be forced to return without a refund. 

The next obstacle to face is procuring the corsage. Now, you have to find a florist and something that will look good with your date’s dress (God forbid it clashes). You will shell out more money for something that will probably look like a trash truck ran over it by the end of the night. Your wallet becomes thinner. 

Then, it’s time to worry about transportation and dinner arrangements. Get ready to hand over even more dough to be driven around by a complete stranger who more likely than not looks like the guy you saw on “America’s Most Wanted” the night before. Next, you have to find the perfect restaurant with the perfect atmosphere and the perfect menu to set up the perfect prom night. After a less-than-enthralling meal, you’ll be forced to promise your first born to the wait staff in order to pay the outrageous bill as you merrily head off to prom. 

When you finally get to prom (after having spent everything you earned last summer gallivanting around dressed as a deranged rat at Chuck E Cheese), you’re already exhausted. But, somehow you dig down deep, dance awkwardly like two light posts that suddenly came to life and watch helplessly as the quarterback and head cheerleader win prom king and queen – again. 

Thirty years later, you’ll be sitting in your living room thumbing through an old yearbook. You’ll flip to the prom section only to be reminded of the shellacking your wallet took, the atrocious hairdos you and your date sported and the memories of a night that meant absolutely nothing. 

For the record, I don’t have anything against proms. I’m just glad I’ve never had to, nor will I ever, attend another one.

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photography by JEJ PHOTOS Budget Blinds of North

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