I never went to my senior prom. In fact, I never went to any formal dance during my high school years.
I’d like to claim that I was protesting this quaint and bourgeois rite of passage, but I had the personality of a hedgehog and wasn’t in great demand in the dating scene. I was more patty melt than beefcake, and the only girl in my life was Marcia Brady.
My four children, on the other hand, attended many a dance and I had the vicarious thrill of paying for dozens of ugly dresses, loud tuxedoes, boutonnieres, corsages and a fleet of limos.
When No. 1 son was a high school senior, he was convinced by a salesperson that it was a better deal to buy, rather than rent, his tux. My wife called me at work to give me the good news: “Your son just spent $280 to buy a tuxedo and it is bright red!”
“Why is he my son?” I protested. “I was there at his birth and I’m fairly certain I saw you in the delivery room.”
When I got home that evening, both my wife and son were fuming. My son whined that he was only trying to save us some money. My spouse just kept mumbling, “We are raising morons.”
I looked over the contract and told my boy that in order to come out ahead on this deal, he’ll not only have to get married in the tux, we’ll have to bury him in it. “Good idea,” said my long-suffering wife. “Let’s bury him now!”
When it came to my daughters, prom night was holy hell for me. Although I was fairly inert as a teenage boy, I still knew that boys of a certain age have only one thing on their mind – and it isn’t algebra.
My oldest daughter was invited to a dance by an older man – I think he was 17 and she was 15. Even though this kid had his own car, I insisted on driving my princess and this hormonal twit to the dance.
Any guy old enough to drive was not going to take out my daughter. Come to think of it, any guy old enough to walk wasn’t going to take out my daughter.
Somehow she survived the humiliation of being dropped off and picked up by her nerdy father. Now that she has two girls of her own, it will be interesting to see how she reacts when some bozo with a purple Mohawk and a nose ring shows up to take one of her babies on a date.
A good friend of mine tells me that whenever his daughter went to a prom, he would greet the boy at the door and whisper in the poor kid’s ear, “You will respect my daughter tonight, or else. I have no problem going to jail – again.”
Sometimes I wonder if prom is actually short for promiscuity. Son No. 2 told us he was spending prom night at a friend’s house and the parents would be there to chaperone. A few weeks later, we noticed a charge for a hotel room on our credit card bill.
“Oh, that,” he said. “A bunch of us rented a suite at the Holiday Inn downtown. No big deal, I’ll get the money from the guys.”
Sometimes I wonder what I missed by never going to prom. On the bright side, I do have an attic full of hideous pink and baby blue dresses as well as one really ugly red tuxedo.