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25 March 2008

Even the Prom Has Its Melancholy Side

Well, Wyfe has now spoken on the prom, but I wanted to add something bothersome that I quite accidentally observed.

We had to man the registration table for the latter, interminable half of the prom, and after the king and queen had officially been announced, it wasn't long before a sizeable group of prom-goers gathered in the lobby, ready to head out for (ahem) other doings, which I had heard a little about from passive eavesdropping earlier in the week. Now, I did not know most of the these kids, but I knew enough to know this was the ultimate creme-de-la-creme in-crowd, partly because a few of my yearbook girls were among the throng. I watched a couple of these girls more intently than the rest, because I noticed how preoccupied they seemed. In fact, they walked right by us several times and never even noticed us at the table. I don't take this as a slight, because they are always friendly, and if they had seen us they would have spoken. They are good girls, off to good colleges, and in fact, though these particular girls are in the in-crowd, they are in no way partiers - I've heard them rail about the partying life before. I don't believe it was their intent to get too involved in doing the wrong things, but clearly they were going to be escorted off to the site of the proceedings nonetheless.

One of these girls is not currently dating, but her prom escort, a red-faced, overly self-assured seeming chap, was rubbing her back as they stood there talking with the others. Let's just say she did not look relaxed with this, but also was not discouraging it. Another normally confident girl shifted nervously, and went into the bathroom twice in the span of 10 minutes - I never saw her smile (in fact, if she had broken into tears it wouldn't have been a shock). Other girls whispered among themselves with serious expressions, and there was little jollity among them. As for the the boys in the group, I know I'm probably exaggerating a bit, but mostly they were what you might expect: the jocks and other cocks-of-the-walk who (in my jaded opinion) were clearly on-the-make, and disgustingly, smarmily professional in their on-the-make demeanors. I realize I flatter myself, but any decent man would have shared the same urge to punch every one of them.

Yes, the girls must make their own decisions, but I can't help but remember the horrifying seduction scenes from I Am Charlotte Simmons. I hope these girls made the right calls, but in an effort to stay popular they already gave in by putting themselves in a bad situation, I feel sure. Why, oh why, do we allow our girls to go through this, and allow our boys to become such predators?

As a counter image, I also noticed that most of the couples who stayed for the entire time seemed to be really enjoying themselves, and were not nervous or shifty at all. Some of their parents dropped by to see them briefly, and some of these kids I know are labeled as being "real Christian". Others were nerdy types, happy in their nerdiness. In contrast with the early departers, I felt relieved to watch these remaining couples. Believe it or not, some of them actually came to the prom in order to enjoy, you know, the prom!


Jimmy said...

My prom story, or how the police called me the next morning.

I was asked to escort a young lady to the St. Mary's Prom "back in the day" - we were friends from church, and she needed a date.

I was somewhere in between the groups you named - a little nerdy, but could downplay that to pull off the "cool, on the make" guy when needed.

We went in the front door of the Prom, had our picture made, and went out the back door, to the parties. We dined at the City of Oaks Diner, and settled in at the Ramada Crabtree, where I departed hastily, as partying with strangers has never been my thing. I would have been happier at the prom. Confident that she was with friends, I went home.

The next morning, everyone in the family had gone to church, and I was awakened by the phone ringing.
"Mr. Rogers, this is Officer Smith of the Raleigh Police Department, and we need to inquire as to the whereabouts of your date of last evening." I explained that I had left her with her friends at the Ramada. The officer asked me to come down to the Ramada, where he was, so I could "answer a few questions". I hung up the phone, rushed to get dressed, and the phone rang again, and it was my date of evening last.

Turns out, she had told St. Mary's that she was spending the night at home, and she told home that she was staying in her dorm room on campus. Her parents had caught wind of this and called the police (she was a little rowdy).

I was the only good guy in the whole transaction. Shoulda just stayed at the prom.

School Master P said...

Well, I would have expected no less of you, as you are a gentleman to the core.

Didn't a prom date from a year or two later turn out to be your wife?

Jimmy said...

You know, now that you mention it, I did marry one of my prom dates. I think I probably chose wisely, although I wonder whatever became of my prisoner prom date?

Michael said...

In my brief public school teaching career, I chaperoned the prom once. The teachers mostly milled about in the lobby, taking turns patrolling the ballroom. About half way through the evening, the mother of one of the girls showed up, asking to see her daughter. "Don't worry," she said. "Nobody died." When her daughter, date in tow, came out, she asked, not surprisingly, "Why are you here?"

"You forgot your diaphragm," her mom said.

The more experienced teachers, while a bit shocked, were not surprised.

School Master P said...

Michael - what would any of us have done without good ole' Mom?

Michael said...

Another story: my wife used to work in a small town in rural Ohio, where the biggest store was a discount drug store that also sold groceries, rented videos, and so on. The back was next to the pharmacy was given over to shelves of liquor, cigarettes, condoms, and pregnancy test kits. It was known as "the Prom Wall."

Michael said...

Okay, that should read "the back wall next to the pharmacy," not "the back was next to the pharmacy."

School Master P said...

As long as it wasn't a secret "back room" next to the pharmacy, in which case the kids never would have bothered making it to the prom at all.

One happy note, btw. Apparently there were no prom night fatalities in the county, which is a change from the last couple of years.

Michael said...

"A Successful Prom: Nobody Died!"

Do you ever get the feeling that we're lowering our standards?