Broken Prom-ises

By the time you read this, Elsinore High School’s Prom will have already taken place, but as I write this, I am still thinking about it and wondering to myself: What, am I nuts?

I hadn’t intended on going. I told myself several months ago that I couldn’t afford it, that I didn’t want to have to face rejection and ask a girl to go with me, that I couldn’t dance anyway, and that well, darn it, why put up with all the hassle? I decided not to think about it anymore.

This plan was fine, until I realized that I was nearly the only person at school to whom Prom was not the most important thing on the face of the earth, perhaps even more important than life itself, and definitely more important than such trivial things as grades and meaningful conversation. I found that no matter who I talked to, the exchange would wind up going something like this:

ME: Hey! Your shoes are on fire!
OTHER PERSON: Oh. So who are you going to Prom with?

So you can see that not thinking about Prom was not an easy thing.But it didn’t phase me. I just kept reassuring myself that I couldn’t afford, I didn’t want to have to ask someone, I couldn’t dance anyway, and it was just too much hassle.

And none of that has changed. But I am going. With a girl named Michelle. For the longest time there, Michelle didn’t have a date, and, this being her senior year, she really wanted to go so that she would have Memories to Last a Lifetime and Something to Tell Her Grandchildren, who of course won’t care. People kept telling me I should ask her, since they were fairly certain she would say yes, even to a belch-emitting, joke-cracking, beat-up-piece-of-junk-car-driving person like me. (High school students seem to have great difficulty comprehending the idea of not wanting to go to Prom. To them, it’s like not wanting to graduate, or breathe, or curse.)

Again, I held out for a while, saying I’d love to go with Michelle to the Prom, but I really didn’t care to go at all. This lasted until a few weeks ago, when I heard that someone else was going to ask her. Naturally, this meant I had to. In what was probably the most romantic moment of my young life, I approached Michelle and said, in a voice choked with emotion, “Hey Michelle. Do you still not have a date?” She said no, so I asked her.

At this point in the story, it would be very funny and ironic indeed to say that she began shrieking with laughter, but she didn’t. She said yes.

So I’m going. I still can’t dance, but that’s okay. It’s being held in the ball room at the Sequoia Athletic Club, so we can go bowling instead. And I still don’t like all the hassle, but that’s okay. I guess this type of thing only happens twice in a lifetime (which is more times than a person has his tonsils removed, but even that seems to be less trouble). And I still can’t afford it, but that’s okay. I just won’t go to college.

If the purpose of "On the Light Side" was to present one kid's view of teen life, a three-part series on going to the prom certainly seems appropriate. What defines high school better than prom? You have to dress a way you don't want to dress, hang out with people you don't want to be with, and act differently from how you prefer to act. It's just like every single day of high school, but crammed into one night!

This column got only marginal reaction, and one can certainly tell that I was using it merely to set up the two remaining columns, which are both reasonably funny.

And the word "prom" should not be capitalized, but I did it here to show how it is over-emphsized by students. Naturally, the editors de-capitalized it in order to be technically correct. The jerks.