A prom is a big social event near the end of the school year when high school kids dress up in fancy clothes. For some boys this is their first chance to feel a girl up, because they have to pin a big smelly flower on the girl’s fancy dress right over her boob. (Some people put the big smelly flower on a little wrist band so the boy doesn’t get to touch the girl’s boob. I’m pretty sure the Church of Christ invented the wrist corsage. But it might have been carnival promoters, because the wrist band looks just like the ones they pass out at the county fair so you can ride all the rides over and over again until you puke. I suppose it’s possible the carnies had an excess of wrist bands and needed to get rid of them. I don’t think many carnies are Church of Christ, though.)
After the boy gets to touch the girl’s boob, the couple has to take a bunch of pictures for their mom and dad. The mom has no idea whether or not her little girl got felt up for the first time when the boy pinned on the corsage, because parents are clueless. The dad stands with his arms crossed, making sure the boy doesn’t go for his daughter’s boob. Secretley, though, he’s remembering when he first felt the mom’s boob twenty years ago.
Then the couple goes out to eat, usually at WesterN SizzliN or Shoney’s. People in these parts think WesterN SizzliN and Shoney’s are upscale restaurants because you don’t place your order at the drive-thru and because nobody asks if you want fries with your selection. Kids don’t go to drive-thru restaurants on prom night because they know that the kids who couldn’t get dates are staffing the squawk box and are really bitter and will spit in their Cokes or worse.
At WesterN SizzliN (or Shoney’s), the kids realize everyone else in the restaurant is wearing shorts and tank tops. The couple is invariably seated near a family with 2.3 whining kids who start screaming for dessert before the glasses of free water hit the sticky tabletop. In other words, they sit by my peers. Even though the prom kids look foolishly out of place in their high heels and taffeta and tuxedos and cumberbunds and corsages and bouttineirs, everyone in the restaurant smiles when seeing the couple and whispers things like, “Aren’t they handsome!”, and “That’s so cute!” My peers, however, are actually thinking nothing of the sort. The woman is thinking, “I remember when my ass was that small.” Her husband is thinking, “I remember when my wife’s ass was that small.” Then one of their kids knocks his glass of free water over and the reverie is broken.
After the prom kids eat, they’re off to the actual prom, which is a big dance with cheap decorations in the school cafeteria. Even though the prom committee tries really hard to make you forget that you’re in the cafeteria and convince you that you’re in the French Quarter or on a tropical island or in a medieval castle or some equally exotic locale, you can still smell the French fries and loose meat sandwiches from yesterday’s lunch menu.
Because this big event takes place near the end of the school year, everyone becomes sentimental because it’s the last big function as a group before graduation. This sentimentality leads to people acting as though they’re really going to miss one another. In reality, they’re going to forget about most of their classmates in a matter of months and have trouble identifying the people with whom they spent thirteen years of their lives when they meet them in a check-out line at Wal-Mart in ten years.
I hated proms as a high school student. I had to go to four — count ‘em, four! — of these miserable functions. I never danced at any of them. I have no coordination. I was afraid my date and I would look like two cripples suffering simultaneous epileptic fits in a zero-gravity atmosphere.