Prom was on my radar well before high school began. The first time it hit me that this event was on the horizon was in the eighth grade when my Dad brought home a copy of the local paper the Riverfront Times and threw it in my lap as I sat reading one day after school. “There’s an article about your future high school in there,” he said, “They’re a little worried about their prom.”
I read the article and immediately started laughing. A lot. I chased my Dad around the house and would tell anyone within earshot about the woes of a bunch of 18-year-old Catholic high schoolers terrified that this year’s prom wouldn’t have a sufficient enough budget for streamers. Lots of close up photos of the pensive looking students were included.
At the time, I thought it was the funniest thing I had read in my entire life. And it was in that moment I knew I would never attend my high school prom.
I have a lot of issues with prom because I hate the hype that surrounds it. It’s like a starter marriage for high school kids. At my high school, this was especially true because in your junior year you bought your ‘junior ring’ (which was basically your class ring) and went to a dance themed off of that ring. Senior year was all about the prom in May and all of the magic leading up to that most holy of high school events. On your prom, you’d get all dressed up and get your nails and hair done. At some point, glitter would be involved. You’d wind up ditching the heels midway through the night to dance and then get dirty feet on the floor. You’d pose for a semi-awkward and maybe-it’s-love photo with your date together showing off your class ring and you’d order 50 million prints because Instagram and Hipstamatic didn’t exist yet. The DJ would definitely make you dance to that “to the left now, y’all! Slide to the left!” song and you’d see some faculty members dancing together that maybe you didn’t want to see there and if you had been drinking, you’d obviously pre-gamed beforehand because these dances were armed with Breathalyzers. And maybe you’d like it when it was over and you’d be happy. Or maybe it would suck and your date would abandon you for someone else and you’d sit at a table quietly upset that you spent $200 on a ticket and had a crappy night.
My theory on prom is pretty much the same as my theory on how I want my own marriage to go down: unless there’s an open bar with Girl Talk as the DJ and I can control who I want to have attend, I’m not interested. My decision in not attending prom didn’t change as the years went on in high school. Instead of an engraved Jostens class ring, I went with a vintage pearl cluster ring from my Grandma. I didn’t buy a senior class t-shirt and wore my full-on uniform on that dress down day. I also fake-cried a bunch to get out of attending some senior chapel assembly at a school, like, 20 miles away but that’s a story for another time. Basically, I didn’t do a damn thing during this time that made me behave like a red-blooded teenage girl in prom season. I worked a lot at my two restaurant jobs. I didn’t care what the season’s best perfect dresses were or the best places in the city to get a mani/pedi at. It surprised quite a few people. I know they expected me to blow a paycheck on a Jessica McClintock dress, but it just wasn’t happening. I genuinely cared about a lot of things in high school, but prom wasn’t on that list. Not even close.
I know you’re dying to know if anyone asked me to prom and yes, I did get asked. The guy who asked me I had never spoken more than 5 words to in my entire life either. He came up to me at my locker one morning when I got to homeroom early and asked me there and I remember blushing horribly as I hastily tried to be nice in saying no and explaining why I didn’t like prom. It all came out of my mouth like this, “I don’t want to go with you – I mean, I’m not going. I don’t like prom. I hate it actually.”
It’s as awkward as it sounds, I promise.
And yes, I was also truly pissed off that the cute guy who sat directly across from me in my trig class that I was friends with went with this junior girl instead of me. Clearly I slipped in the cracks as being “just friends” with that one. But even if he had asked me, I would have probably said no still. I think. Lemme take a moment to remember the hatred of splitting a limo with 13 other people and not even being anywhere close to that prom queen nomination list – yep, that’s still a no!
On the night of my prom, I was cleaning out the clogged up sink at Subway and for whatever reason, my coworker found out that it was my prom night and I was at work. “What are you still doing here?” He asked me, “It’s prom night! You have to go!”
Like a fairy godmother would magically appear in the lobby with a Hummer and a hair straightener. “It’s okay,” I told him, “I didn’t want to go.”
“Why?” He asked.
I just shrugged, “I just don’t. I never wanted to go.”
To this day, rejecting prom was a personal triumph in my book. It was so unlike me and my personality that I embraced it even more. A lot of people will make you believe that prom is the most important dance/outing that you can attend but that’s definitely not how it worked out for me. I salute any young lady or gentleman who decides to skip the prom in favor of something else, be it work or a different outing that strikes more of their fancy. Or even staying in to watch a marathon of Arrested Development episodes – um, can I join you on that one? Do what your gut tells you, not your graduating high school class and senior class advisors.
There will be plenty of time in life left to enjoy dancing to old BSB and Usher songs. This is a fact.