Things have changed a lot since I went to my high school prom back in (cough/sputter) muffletyfour.
I remember buying a killer black dress on sale for $10 and then writing an actual letter (no, it was NOT delivered via Pony Express) to my boyfriend at the time, a college freshman, and telling him when he would be expected to show up.
He wrote back ( “OK”) and showed up right on time, presented me with the requisite red rose corsage and that was that.
Fast-forward through the decades to today’s preferred ways of asking someone to the prom, which can be so intricate, so over-the-top, so labor-intensive and expensive that some have started calling them “prom-posals.”
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The Princess, now a high school junior who plans on attending her prom in a few weeks, was deposed for this column and this is how that little convo went.
Me: “Is it true that guys make a big deal out of the prom invitation like spelling it out in cookies or cupcakes or doing scavenger hunts or, like I read about, hiring someone to fly a banner behind an airplane asking the girl to the prom?”
TP: “Nobody says THE prom. It’s like saying THE Facebook. Which you also do. And, yes, I know you’re being ironic but still …”
Me: “What do you mean it’s not THE prom. It was always THE prom. What do you all say?”
Me: “Whaaaaa? Like John is asking Mary to prom? Just like that?”
TP: “Huh? Sorry. I’m watching ‘Orange is the New Black.’ Were you still talking?”
I have NO idea where she gets this attitude.
Me: “Yes, I’m still talking. And that is not an appropriate show for you to be watching.”
TP: “I will never do anything that would send me to prison after watching this.”
Me: “Point taken.”
After a little more nagging and research, I learned that prom-posals are for real. Not surprisingly, because it’s teens, food and music seem to be favored. As in spelling out “PROM?” in pizza toppings. Who wouldn’t want to be asked out on the biggest social night of the season via cleverly sliced cured meat? I’m serious. Who?
Now because you can’t have a teenage trend without a psychologist weighing in, I discovered an article in which an Oberlin College professor said prom-posals signal a return by teenage boys to an emphasis on the grand romantic gesture.
That’s a nice thought, but it’s not just about romance: Often as not, these grand gestures are immediately Tweeted, Instagrammed and uploaded to YouTube, where the perpetrator, that grand romantic publicity-seeking devil, can bask in the ego boost that comes with a blizzard of “likes,” “retweets” and “hits” before she has even said “Yes.”
Maybe I’m too cynical. It’s pretty cool to be asked to the prom via a fruit basket filled with “prom-egranates” and proclamations that you are “berry special.”
Which somebody’s mama has photographed and is probably pinning on Pinterest right now.