When I was a tween, I always envisioned high-school prom as this fantastical event, a grand ball infused with roll-on glitter and taffeta dresses. Pretty in Pink was my bible and 10 Things I Hate About You was my pro-guide in everything teenager. Boys would worship and chase after me in candy apple red Mustangs, sing covers of old-timey songs on bleachers and show up at the cool vintage record store I would be working at, because in my fantasy, record stores would still be relevant.
Okay, here’s what actually happened. A week before prom – and, coincidentally, my birthday – my boyfriend of like, one month dumped me in front of a Barnes & Noble.
“But..but it’s PROM! And my BIRTHDAY!” I cried, as though he was suggesting the destruction of oxygen. And mankind.
So, I drove home that night, and after sobbing into my bedspread for awhile, I logged on to AIM and asked my friend if she wanted to go to prom with me, because technically, I still had two tickets under my name, a dress I already bought and a life-long vision I absolutely had to carry out. I was going to prom, with or without a boyfriend.
Obviously, my friend agreed. The tickets were free and she had just denied some creepy guy in her pre-calc class. So she borrowed her sister’s dress, and we went to prom and looked totally fabulous. And best of all, it was stress free. Yeah. I didn’t have to worry about my terrible freak dancing moves, (retrospectively, that is just so weird. Please just dance like normal people, you guys. I have no idea who came up with the whole ‘butt grind’ move, but it’s so…uninspiring.) and I didn’t have to feel totally self-conscious about eating all of the marshmallows and pineapple at the fondue bar. There was absolutely no pressure whatsoever, and I got to spend my birthday with one of my closest friends, not some douchebag who broke up with me in front a book store because I wasn’t cutting it as his high school girlfriend, and breaking up with me in front of the McDonald’s next door would have been less poignant.
Luckily, I think the expectations of the “ideal prom” are shifting. Last I knew, it was becoming way more cool and fun to go “stag” (as in, with your friends or platonic guy/girl friend) than with a significant other. And I’m not saying this because I’m still bitter. I’m totally not.
Prom is stressful. You have to go to the mall with your mom to find the perfect dress, shoes that won’t butcher your perfectly manicured toe nails after an hour of dancing, worry about transportation, picture-taking, and oh yeah. A date. Chances are, if you’re single, you might get asked by somebody you have no interest in. And that’s awkward, because your heart is like, “you KNOW you want a real date to take to prom! Don’t you want your children to see photos of you with a date on prom?” But your brain is saying, “GIRL! You can’t stand sitting next to this guy in biology for an hour, what makes you think you’ll enjoy an entire night?”
Girls (and guys): it’s up to you what you want to do for prom. If you are going with your beloved partner in crime and romance, I give you my blessings. It’s going to be a blast. But if you’re over love and just want to have fun with your friends, then go all out. It’ll be a night you’ll never forget.
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