On Prom Proposals
I heard one of our afterschool program participants clearly and distinctly through the incongruous teen chatter permeating our Drop In Center as she raised her high pitched voice and said “Corny is the new sweet and sweet is the new romantic,” directing her comment to a confounded adult in a manner which between the lines said, “Duh! Don’t you know anything?” I walked over to see what had inspired such a statement and then I encountered it.
It all began at the Spring Sports Pep Rally when a young athlete was allowed to interrupt the course of events, approach the mic, summons his cheerleader girlfriend to the center of the gym and in true American High School movie fashion, presented her with a bouquet of roses and asked her to go to the prom with him. The school went wild with approval and from that day forward the bar for what I later learned were called “Prom Proposals” was substantially raised. No one was able to top this first and legendary “Prom Proposal” until very recently when I was hosting the school Talent Show and one of the students, a guitarist and singer, called his girlfriend up to the stage before starting his act and proceeded to serenade her in front of two hundred plus people. As he was finishing his song, five of his friends came to the stage holding up giant letters which spelled out P-R-O-M-? Needless to say the audience applauded so hard that not only did his teary eyed girlfriend say yes, but he also won the unofficial “Prom Proposal” competition and third place in the Talent Show.
As a woman in her thirties, I am impressed by the thought process that goes into planning such extravagant proposals, but I am also aware that they happen not out of love or creativity but because teenagers are extremely susceptible to the messages constantly projected at them through the media. Boys learn that if they want their dream girl to agree to go to prom with them, they have to come up with “The Bachelor” style proposals. Girls learn that if they are not the protagonist of a “Prom Proposal” then they are not loved as much as the girls who were. Both boys and girls learn that in order for prom to be fun, they have to have the perfect everything and in order for that to happen, they will need money, a lot of it. Just yesterday, I heard of a student who stole thousands of dollars worth of jewelry from her own step mother in order to pay for the Prom after party she had agreed to co-host at a fancy Hotel. One of my student interns, an awesome and hard working kid, asked me if I could give him a cash advance so that he could pay for the prom limo. Prom expectations are high and teenagers are extremely volatile, not a good combination.
But regardless of how many times I tell the students that Prom is not that fun, it is just a glorified school dance and they do not need to stress over a date or buying things their parents cannot afford, they do not believe me because I am not saying this on TV, or in a movie, or on a billboard, or all over the Internet. I was not aware of how far this trend of extremely high Prom expectations had gone until I saw 10th grader B’s book the day she was teaching the adults in the room about romance. To help her friend ask his girlfriend to the prom, B created a handmade illustrated guide book titled “Prom Proposal Ideas.” In it she outlines twenty five different corny, (because remember corny is the new romantic), ways to ask his girlfriend to go with him to the Prom. I was amazed that as a 10th grader, B had already starting putting these expectations on Prom and had obviously already imagined herself as one of the protagonists in twenty five different “Prom Proposals.” Despite my thoughts on the subject, the book was creative and well thought out. I congratulated her creativity and asked if I could blog about it, to which she replied, “Yes, but only if you give me credit.”
What was your prom like? Did you have any crazy expectations? Did you have fun? Share if you like.