High school for many Americans is a time of self-discovery, joy and sex. At least, that’s what Hollywood has been telling us. Frankly, my high school years didn’t look very much like a standard teen film – even after more than 35 years, it’s hard to tell where the cinema people got their ideas. It certainly wasn’t from my high school years. Nor for that matter, did it seem to borrow from my kids’ experiences.
The biggest myth of all is Prom. Prom is a weird event at American high schools that can only be described as a celebration where girls dress up as if for a wedding and the boys try to look like tuxedos are not uncomfortable. But Hollywood has built an entire sub-genre around this party. So, let me debunk a few of the myths about Prom.
Myth #1: Prom is the High Point of your High School Career
As my Cockney flatmate Neil from my post-high school days would say “what a load of bollock that is.” High school should not be the best years of your life – if you peak at 18, it’s a long miserable march to the grave from there.
By the same token, one dance (no matter how posh) probably shouldn’t be the big thing you take away from being a teenager. Not every dance is a good one, some dates are better than others, and many of us didn’t like high school. I felt mine was a minimum security detention facility. The day I graduated was much better than Prom; I’d been freed.
Myth #2: Limousines are MandatoryImage Source: Limo Mike
One of the worst things about Prom is the conspicuous consumption, and the worst of it is a stretch limousine. I suppose it makes some sense to have someone else drive if you are going to be drinking, and despite the fact that high school kids can’t legally drink in the US, some will at Prom. But hiring a limousine and chauffeur is simply a vulgar display of (Mom and Dad’s) wealth. I drove to prom in Mom’s car – a Pacer from American Motos (Google it and try not to laugh).
Myth #3: You Have to Go to Prom
OMG! Aren’t you going to Prom? What kind of social outcast are you? How can you deny yourself the memories of the greatest night ever? Well, the truth is, I wish I hadn’t gone to my first prom. I didn’t have a regular girlfriend, and it was an uncomfortable night. My youngest son had a better grip on it. He didn’t want to go. So he didn’t. There was a concert at Madison Square Garden that night. Yes, he’s smarter than I am.
Myth #4: You Have to Have a DateImage Source: Dating Sites
Going stag should have been my call that first time around – if I did go. In my daughter’s case, a group of friends went together (which made the limo a bit more sensible, I guess), and they had fun. No one had to have a date, and when a couple girls announced they were going with someone, plans were adjusted to include the extra guys. She’s smarter than I am, too.
Myth #5: Everyone Winds up Best Pals
This is probably the hardest Hollywood myth to swallow. After three or four years with the same people, you aren’t about to stop disliking those whom you dislike. The bullies aren’t going to change, and the Mean Girls are that way almost genetically. One magical night of dancing in formal wear isn’t going to change it.
Myth #6: Someone Will Spike the PunchImage Source: Miss Fancy Pants Tokyo
This is a myth more from the 1950s and 1960s than it is today. For one thing, I don’t even think there is a punchbowl at Prom – there wasn’t at mine. And that was Colorado in the 1970s, where alcohol wasn’t even the drug of choice among my alleged peers. The truth is that there are drugs at Prom, just as there are at most other teen parties (sorry, Moms and Dads, but your kids live in the 21st Century).
The other truth is teens with booze, pot, Ecstacy, LSD or anything else aren’t really of a mind to share. Someone will get shit-faced, and others will go home as sober as a Mormon elder. That would be the case whether there was Prom or not.
Myth #7: There Will Be Sex Afterward
Everyone will be overcome by the romance and drama of the night – oh, who am I kidding? Kids who are sexually active may well engage in sex. Those who aren’t, won’t. A handful may decide “now’s the time,” but they are a minority and a very small one at that.
Myth #8: The Band Will Become a Mega Band Soon
OK, maybe this one is a personal issue with me because I was a first-generation punk living in the musical wasteland of Colorado in 1979 – they still listened to Led Zeppelin and disco for God Sake! So, the myth that the band that plays your prom will become Chuck Berry, or the Beach Boys or whatever really grates on me.
Yeah, it would have been great if the Clash or the Jam had played my prom. It turned out it was a few guys from the music department who didn’t like me, I didn’t like them, and from what I hear, they are not professional musicians today. I wouldn’t know for certain — we haven’t exchanged a word in 35 years.
Myth #9: The Teacher Chaperones Will Find LoveImage Source: Youtube
This one always confuses me. Most of the teachers in my high school were married, and the gay teachers kept it quiet because it was 1979. The odds on Miss Jones in the English Department finding love with Mr. Smith in the History Department Prom Night, after years of working together and not finding it, is just silly. Chaperones at Prom are lucky if they get paid and get home by midnight.
Myth #10: The Promposal Matters
I don’t know where the idea of a proposal about attending Prom came from, but finding a special way to ask that special someone to Prom is mildly cute at best. You aren’t asking for a lifetime commitment, just a date. Some guys (it’s not always a guy.. though) put their “Promposals” on YouTube to live forever, which is tough if she says “no.”
The greatest thing about Prom? I never have to go to another one.
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