Sunday, September 04, 2016

My High School Dance History

My friend Sarah recently told me about a dating trend unique to the current generation of teenagers --- the "prom-posal."  This bit of nonsense involves a guy asking a girl to prom in a very elaborate, over-the-top way, similar to how a movie character might propose marriage by hiring a skywriter, or scattering rose pedals everywhere, or some even more breathtakingly romantic gesture

That's essentially what a prom-posal is, except instead of proposing a lifetime of marriage, you're asking someone to a damn dance.  I hate to generalize, but if you're a high school kid with enough disposable income to drop hundreds of dollars just to ask your sweetheart out, you're a raving douchebag.  Hmm, good thing I prefaced that with "I hate to generalize" or else that would've really sounded like a generalization. 

Not to get all "back in my day" about this and pull my trousers up beyond my belly button but….seriously, back in my day, prom was in no way this big a deal.  Hell, my high school didn't even have proms.  We had "semi-formals," which were basically proms, just not called proms for some obscure reason.  Now, granted, my semi-formal experience may not be as memorable as most given that I was a bigger wallflower than Jakob Dylan back in high school, but still, here was a brief summary of my semi-formal experience.

Ninth grade: Didn't go.  Way to make an impact, freshman.

Tenth grade: Didn't go.  Probably stayed home and watched the Drambuie Showcase Revue.

Eleventh grade: Hey, I went!  Good lord!  I went with my pal Eric, and our "two cool single guys out on the prowl at the big dance" was only slightly undercut by the fact that we were driven to and from the school by Eric's mom.  Anyway, actually going to a semi-formal after all those years was kind of a letdown.  Sure, the dance was set in the school's halls and main atrium rather than the usual dances in the gym* and everything was done up with a general Titanic theme (ah, 1998) but at the end of the day, it was just a dance with everyone in nicer clothes.  I was also pretty let down that none of the nerdier girls at my school showed up with their hair down and glasses off, suddenly looking like a million bucks.  Thanks for leading me astray, every high school prom movie ever made.  Anyway, I think Eric and I were home in time for me to watch Saturday Night Live.  #CoolGuys

* MuchMusic video dance party!  Holler!  I think my highlight of these dances was joining a group of about a dozen people who recreated the moves from Fatboy Slim's "Praise You" video

Twelfth grade: I went to semi-formal again, but with a twist.  This year I was on student council so I was part of the actual organizing committee for semi-formal.  I guess I could easily discover this fact by asking someone I went to high school with or looking in an old yearbook, but as I write this, I have absolutely no recollection what theme we came up with for that dance.  I remember spending a lot of time putting garbage bags on the cafeteria roof to emulate a starry night, so maybe some kind of general space theme?  No clue. 

Anyway, the magic of semi-formal is pretty muted when you spend your entire weekend putting all the decorations up, then spending the actual dance serving punch/checking coats/making sure nobody ruins the godforsaken decorations/etc., then going home for about six hours sleep and then returning to school on a Sunday to help tear everything down.  Maybe the theme of the semi-formal was "Being A Janitor."

Thirteenth grade*: Ah, here we go, the big senior year semi-formal.  Now, THIS would be the magical night where I'd finally tell my true feelings to the girl I'd had a crush on for five years, and it'd turn out she'd also had a crush on me TOO this WHOLE TIME and we'd fall into each other's arms and then I'd punch out Biff Tannen and it'd all be gravy after that.  But yeah, prom movies led me astray again.  I again was dateless for this dance and no, I had no moment of pure romance with The Girl Of My Dreams** but still, I recall it being a pretty fun evening. 

* = a.k.a. "OAC" for Canadian high schoolers of my generation.  Grade 13 actually hasn't existed for well over a decade, so I was one of the last of a dying breed.  Never quite got the logic of sending kids as young as 17 on to university but hey, I'm no educator.

** = though I had unrequited crushes on, like, 30-40 of my high school classmates, so I would've had a busy night.  Though really, come on, surely out of those 30-40 women, ONE would've had feelings for me, right?  Sheer odds would dictate this to be true.  Even a stopped clock is right twice a day.

The final year semi-formal was also the beginning of many Second Semester Random Romances.  I'll explain.  At my school, and perhaps at others, several seemingly out-of-nowhere couples suddenly sprung up within the last few months of our high school tenures.  My theory was that in many of these cases, these were people who, a) hadn't been laid during high school or b) hadn't actually dated anyone throughout high school, and now were pairing up in a late rush to get one in under the buzzer before graduation.  It also could've been out of a desire to have a steady date for the many major social calendar events that dotted the last few months of the high school calendar: your semi-formal, your last few key house parties, your graduation ceremony, your student-only grad ceremony, the aftergrad drunkfest that took place in a rural campsite in southern Ontario, etc.  Now, a few of these seemingly random relationships actually ended up becoming marriages that last to this day, so bully for them.  Others fell by the wayside as soon as high school actually ended, or were stretched out until the fall when everyone came home from university for Thanksgiving and promptly Turkey-Dropped their old partners.  Not me, though.  Being a true rebel, I resisted this social pressure and managed to remain a single virgin for ALL of high school.  Ha, take that! 

*dusts off hands triumphantly* 

So anyway, that was my high school prommi-formal history.  Talk about mayhem.  You might think my lack of specific memories stemmed from getting drunk during all these things but I swear, I was sober as a judge throughout all of them -- either they were all just pretty dull times or else my memory is becoming horsecrap. 

What I do remember is during my senior semi-formal, I posed for one of those official prom night photographs, with a professional photog and the big background and everything.  I posed alone, naturally, with my tie undone and me doing the awkward collar pull gesture while holding a cane, since for some reason I thought it'd be cool to bring a cane to a dance.  It is, very possibly, the single nerdiest picture taken of any human being.  If this picture ever surfaces on the internet, I'm moving to a remote cave in the Andes.  And not only because of the nerdiness, I also don't want to deal with a hundred "Mark, you were even balding in high school?  Good lord!" comments.

The moral of the story is, if you're going to ask someone to prom/semi-formal, just do it normally.  Don't waste your money and self-respect on a friggin' prom-posal.  Ladies, if a guy asks you via prom-posal, turn him down on general principle.  Men, if you ask a girl out and she gets all huffy since you didn't do an elaborate prom-posal, then forget the whole thing since who needs to be with someone that high-maintenance?  Take it from me, the guy who never had a date for any of my high school dances…prom-posals are a waste. 

What's the Canadian version of a prom-posal, by the way?  A semi-forvitation?  A pros-formal?  Writing "wanna goo oot?" in maple syrup on the back of a Doug Gilmour poster and sticky-tacking it to her locker door?  Even that might backfire since then she'd presume she's being asked out by Doug Gilmour.

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