I'm seeing a lot of glittery, glitzy dresses in the stores these days, so it's obvious that prom time is almost here. Have you heard of something called "promposals," which are a real thing in our nation's high schools these days? Young fellas now feel required to come up with marriage proposal-style ways of asking girls to be their dates for the prom. I read about this new phenomenon in a blog and, thinking this had to be some kind of joke, I mentioned it to my #2 son, a high school math teacher. He assured me that yes, it's really happening. (Then he rolled his eyes, and said it sure wasn't like that back in his day.)
If things have changed that much since the 1990's and early 00's, imagine how much they've changed since the 1970's! Things were a bit simpler then, to put it mildly.
In 1975, I went to the junior prom with my cute high school boyfriend, who did not prompose to me by presenting flowers on bended knee, or with the release of helium balloons from my locker, or with a cupcake delivered to my seat at the cafeteria lunch table with "Prom?" written on it in icing. We were dating, so it was something like," Um, obviously we're going to go to the prom together, right?" Had we not been dating, this is the way he would have asked: "Will you go to the prom with me?" Boom. Simple. That's the way things were, and they seemed quite all right.
For the big night, here's what I wore: a modest little gown that was made by my mother; a painful sunburn from lying out in the sun THE MORNING OF THE PROM, thinking I would be a bronze goddess by that evening; and a red velvet bow in my hair (which was in the awkward growing-out stage, after I'd had my hair cut short and almost immediately regretted it). The main thing I had going for me on prom night, beauty-wise, was youth! Polished, sophisticated, and red carpet-ready I was NOT. But that boy I was dating liked me enough to see pretty where I only saw flaws. (God bless him; 33 years later, he's still doing it.)
Okay, now let's break down my boyfriend's prom get-up. Eschewing the whole tux rental routine (which was probably a wise choice, given that in 1975 the popular colors for tuxes were yellow, burgundy, and powder blue), my husband wore a white sport coat with his dad's tux pants and bow tie (which, coincidentally, he wore again--along with his dad's matching tuxedo coat--when our firstborn son got married in 2009). He did rent his groovy raspberry-colored ruffled shirt from the tux place, though. But the piece de resistance of his ensemble was a pair of shiny black and white platform shoes. Elton John had nothing on him, let me tell you. Those babies were stylin'.
When son #4 got married in February, my husband thought about renting a fun pair of kicks eerily similar to those legendary prom shoes; but unfortunately the groom-to-be (let's call him "a chip off the old block") had already beaten him to the punch and chosen the exact same pair to wear himself on his big day. So my husband stepped aside and wore plain old black, but his boy showed beyond a shadow of a doubt that the apple doesn't fall far from the tree when it comes to fashion sense.
If that young girl with a sunburned face and a ribbon in her hair could have peeked into the future and seen herself married to that good-looking prom date of hers (and not only that, but surrounded by their five grown sons), how ecstatic she would have been! Because even back then, she thought he was "the one," and she hoped and prayed that she hadn't met him way too early.
Now for you moms of teenagers, I urge you to encourage them to fight the current trends in prom etiquette. If you have sons, let them be the ones who nervously ask (with sweaty palms and lots of "um's"), "Would you be my date for the prom?" To me, that seems so much more endearing than the over-the-top gestures boys feel they need to make, if only to keep up with the Joneses. If everything is so big--and so WOW!!--when they're only in high school, how can the much bigger, much more important milestones of life (actual marriage proposals, for instance) ever measure up?