Ladies Pinch, Whores Use Rouge

As we strolled home from an errand on the 16th Street Mall last evening, Mle and I saw probably ten or fifteen couples in all their Prom finery, out on the town for the Most Magical Prom Nite Ev Var. Boy, did it take me back.

Not to my prom, though, because I didn't go to my prom. It made me think back to the spring of my senior year when my parents asked, "Why didn't you go to the Prom?" It wasn't just a casual question. They asked with the same note of concern in their voices as they would if they were asking me, "Why are you cutting yourself?" or "Are you addicted to heroin?" They were simultaneously confused, horrified, saddened and mortally offended. My actual verbal response was the usual teenage, "Dunno." My internal response was, "Why the fuck would I go to the Prom?"

Prom nite in Greeley, Colorado was a Big Deal. Greeley was one of those towns. Prom wasn't just a dance. It meant something. Senior prom was the Single Most Important Night of Your Entire Life Should You Live to be a Hundred Years Old. One simply did not go to the Greeley West High School prom stag, or "with a group of friends" or whatever. You went with a date, or not at all.

Arranging a prom date was a contest. The winner was the girl whose date had come up with the most creative way of asking her to the prom. It didn't matter if it was a couple who had been together since fifth grade. It was never assumed that you were going to prom together. A girl had to be asked, and a boy had to come up with some crazy, elaborate and extravagant bullshit way of asking.

Going to the prom was a contest, too. The winner was the girl whose date had gone to the greatest lengths to make it the Most Magical Prom Nite Ev Var. Hiring a limo was good. Hiring the Hummer limo was better (though these days, I understand, the Escalade limo is where it's at). Dinner at Potato Brumbaugh's (Greeley's best attempt at a fancy restaurant) was okay. But driving at least to Ft. Collins was necessary for bragging rights. All the way to Denver or Estes Park, better still.

So, no, sorry to offend, Mom and Dad, I didn't go to the prom. I didn't feel bad about it at the time, and I have absolutely no regrets. I didn't have to rent a tux. I didn't have to buy the most expensive corsage the florist had to offer (anything less would mean it wasn't the Most Magical Prom Nite Ev Var, of course). I didn't have to hire the Hummer limo. I didn't feel any compulsion whatsoever to participate in the high school bullshit.

I was never some above-it-all "You're all sheep!" type in high school by any stretch. I went to the football and basketball games. I was a theater dork, an editor on the school paper and the captain of the speech and debate team. But I was also the guy who mostly sat in the back of the room drawing cartoons during every class, and my willingness and ability to participate in high school idiocy could only be pushed so far.

Fuck the prom, man.