Calm Down, Folks -- Prom And Homecoming Are Just Dances

by Annie Reneau
Originally Published: 
Hand of a boy wearing a black suit and white shirt holding hand of a girl wearing a pink dress, goin...

One day in the spring of 1993, B.J. Gibbons stopped me in the hall after choir class. “Hey Annie,” he said. “Would you like to be my prom date?” Then I said, “Sure, that would be great. Thanks!”

That was it. That was me being asked to my senior prom. And you know what? It was enough. That was what everyone did. Not once in my entire life since that day have I ever thought, “You know, I wish I’d been asked to prom in a more elaborate way.”

I point this out because apparently, a mere couple of decades later, being asked to prom or homecoming has become a major life milestone, right up there with getting engaged or getting married or announcing a pregnancy. And this major life milestone now includes elaborate “promposals,” some of which rival even the most over-the-top wedding proposals.

Yes, I’m serious.

Imagine filling a girl’s bedroom with a hundred balloons and putting up a sign that reads, “Will you fly up to prom with me?” Or how about actually flying your potential prom date up in an airplane so she can see the question you arranged with big white letters that can only be seen from an aerial view? How about making the word “PROM?” out of logs on the ground and then lighting them on fire?

Calm the eff down, youngsters. It’s just a dance. This is not the beginning of a lifelong commitment. It’s not a major, life-changing event (hopefully). It’s a high school dance, nothing more.

Sure, it’s fun to get dressed up and go out for a fancy night with your friends. Maybe you look forward to the traditional corsage/boutonnière thing. There’s a lot of hype surrounding prom, so I can understand getting excited about it.

But seriously, it’s just a dance.

The weirdest thing about the promposal phenomenon is that I’m seeing it happen even when the couple is already boyfriend and girlfriend. Do you really have to propose that you go to prom with your significant other? Isn’t that already a done deal? If I had a boyfriend and he asked me to prom, I’d be like, “Um, yeah. Duh, dude.” Why is that even a thing?

And it doesn’t end with promposals. Apparently, more and more culture-caught-up parents are hiring professional photographers to take their kids’ pre-prom photos. Professional photographers. For prom photos. I distinctly remember standing out in front of our house in my black velvet off-the-shoulder prom dress with B.J. in his tux and having my parents take a few snapshots of us. We didn’t even get to see what they looked like until the film was developed. That was it.

How did we get from there to here? All I can figure is that younger generation’s insatiable appetite for likes on social media is prompting kids and their parents to lose their ever-lovin’ minds and spend ridiculous amounts of money, time, and energy on a frigging high school dance. I can’t understand it.

I have nothing against professional photography, nor am I a curmudgeon who thinks everything was better back in my day. I don’t normally tend to be a “kids these days” kind of person. And I know that many people will say, “What’s the harm?” After all, it’s all in good fun.

But I don’t think something has to be harmful to be a bad idea. It feels like people haven’t really thought the prompsoals thing through. At what point is enough enough? The idea seems cute, but are these kids setting themselves up for disappointment when other actual milestones in actual relationships — engagements, weddings, pregnancy announcements — don’t live up to the hype of their high school promposal? Shouldn’t those things be more significant than being asked to a school dance?

And what about the poor, shy kids who are already nervous about asking someone to a dance? Now they have to feel even more anxious because they don’t want to make a scene or draw extra attention to themselves?

Are their dates going to feel disappointed if they don’t get the royal promposal treatment? Will it ruin their chances for promance?

Am I the only one who sees these things as promblematic?

Is it too late to put the lid back on Promdora’s Box?

I hope not. I vote we toss the promposals concept into the archive of bad ideas that should never have happened in the first place. We can stick it right in between the mullet and the 2016 election.

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