Tyrades! By Danny Tyree
A disclaimer: I missed out on my own high school prom back in 1978, so you may dismiss this column as sour grapes; but I felt compelled to comment on the dark underbelly of this pervasive phenomenon.
The traditional pre-prom photos snapped by parents are particularly troubling, producing toxic results that will survive for eons. Pre-prom photos are the evil twin of new cars; the hairstyles and facial hair immediately turn humiliatingly nerdy as soon as you drive them off the lot.
Many prom participants are excellent dancers, but other students shouldn’t feel pressured to display their *ahem* skills just because “everyone is doing it.” Some of these classmates apparently take their dancing lessons from that biology class frog that wasn’t quite dead when Mrs. McGillicuddy started the dissection.
Prom themes tend to be either a cliché or sickeningly optimistic. I’d like to see some themes tied more to the real world: “Memories That Will Last A Lifetime – Unless You Wind Up Like Christie’s Grandpa,” “We’re Ready To Take Flight – But Not On A *&^%$ Southwest 737!” and “We’re An ACTIVIST Prom Court – Mandatory Same-Sex Dates For Everyone!”
While researching this column, I’ve encountered heartwarming stories about charities and merchants who make an annual ritual of helping underprivileged students escape the psychological scarring of not being able to afford prom. Assistance comes in the form of providing dresses, shoes, accessories, teeth whitening, image consultation, genetic modification, forged family trees, etc. I tend to focus on unintended consequences, so I worry about the effects of messing with the natural order of things (i.e. “haves” vs. “have nots,” “in-crowd” vs. misfits). What will happen once prom is over and these “enhanced self-esteem” teens are released back into the wild? (“What do you mean my SATs weren’t good enough, my part-time job is ending, and my boyfriend dumped me for my sister??? That’s impossible. I had a tiara! A tiara! And I rode in a limo! L-I-M-O, you moron!”)
I read of other good-intentioned folks (whether friends and relatives or for-profit businesses) who recreate the prom experience for adults who did not get to attend their prom. I’m sure this is a touching gesture for some, but others might not want to dredge up the painful experiences that accounted for their “no show” status, such as being in a coma, being drafted, being dragged to a new city by their parents mid-year or succumbing to the alluring promo for “a very special episode of Blossom.” I know that no prom simulation could be less than traumatic for Mario Gubitosi (East Podunk High Class of ’58), who missed his prom because Sputnik was pulled into the gravitational field of one of his zits.
Go to your prom if you wish, but keep things in perspective. Tragically, students at one high school became so obsessed with prom preparation (corsage coordination, the show-stopping gowns, etc.) that they neglected their Current Events class. This led to some embarrassing situations. (“I don’t know what a Sharia-themed prom is, but it sounds like a hoot. Let’s see: veils, no overtly sexy eyebrow movements, 72 virgins – good luck with that.pilgrimages to the punch bowl — Hey! I know I was planning on getting STONED after the dance, but put down that pile of rocks!!! Where is Sissy Spacek when a prom needs her? Help!!!!”)
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