The Last Dance – and Why it Needs to Slow its Roll

Ah, summer. As it sits enticingly on the horizon, our nation’s future sits in stuffy high school classrooms and dreams of a juicy three-month block of zero responsibility. Unless they’re like teenage me – in which case they’re consoling themselves with the change of pace offered through slinging pizzas at all hours of the day instead of just at night (Spoiler alert, kiddos: It’s nothing to write home about).

Then there’s the elite crop of the bunch – the ones who are approaching the end of a 12-year journey which featured everything from social education to time management to those awkward years of emerging permanent teeth when every mouth in sight looked like it was crammed full of irregular Chiclets. These are the kids who are doing armshelf poses for senior photo packages so that the yearbooks can preserve a profound truth – that through each decade of modern American history, 12th-grade boys have dressed like extras in “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend,” and the ladies have looked like they were en-route to a Knots Landing cast party. Honestly, is there any other socially acceptable time for big hair and off-the-shoulder black velvet?


They’re frantically scribbling addresses onto envelopes for commencement invitations, that family, friends and distant cousins of family friends they met one time at age 7 can share in the joy of this all-important milestone – and hopefully float some congratulatory cabbage back their way. Many are wishlist shopping for the seat covers that will adorn their graduation wheels – except those who were gifted sweet rides at sweet 16.


Okay, I realize it seems as though I’m painting a portrait of the 2014 graduating class in an excessive light. But can you really blame me? These are the same kids who just had their senior proms – an institution that has evolved so greatly beyond my own 1998 experience that I scarcely recognize it anymore. At what point did I miss the inception of…


Dress Claiming – I get it; shopping for the perfect prom dress is a pretty big deal. I myself combed through several Nashville establishments to find the ideal gown to wear for approximately four hours until I was ready to be comfortable and ingest libations. And sure, the quest would have smacked of the anti-climactic had I walked onto the dance floor and seen a classmate dressed in a similar fashion. I seriously doubt it would have sent me into a fit of violent rage. And don’t get me wrong – at my high school there were metal detectors at homecoming, so it’s not like we were strangers to bringin’ the pain.


Nowadays we have teenage girls posting pictures of their intended purchases in Facebook groups with names like “Bitch Don’t Steal My Dress,” threatening demonic-grade vengeance against those who would dare choose the same gown – or anything similar. As such, the once-fun task of prom dress shopping has become “Say Yes to the Dress: Lord of the Flies Edition.”


Promposals – Those who want to attend prom typically want to do so with  a date. Unless I’m nostalgically oversimplifying, a guy or girl would painstakingly pluck up the courage to ask an intended for the privilege of his/her company on that special night. And those were the single folk. If you were dating, the outing was simply implied.


Today? Well if what I’m seeing is to be believed, a kid has no hope of scoring a prom date without the aid of ice sculptures, skywriters, flash mobs, exotic zoo creatures or an original song performed by at least a three-piece ensemble. Hell, one kid even went so far as to employ the assistance of Bryan Cranston! Which brings me to the topic of…


Celebrity Prom Dates – Had I told my friends that I was planning to ask Anthony Kiedis to pose for snappy pictures with me neath a cheesy balloon awning, I’m pretty sure I’d have lost my spot in the peace pipe circle on the grounds that my brain function had been irreparably altered. As YouTube and Twitter knits this human family ever-closer, however, people have grown dissatisfied with their everyday options and are choosing to plead into the ether for a shot at an evening with an A-lister.


What boggles my mind even more is that it’s working! Those who don’t score the date can at least expect a filmed apology which will air on at least two major news networks. Back in the day, the only kids who got to rub elbows with that kind of fame were the damn Brady kids! Most of us can count on a single hand the number of times we got to toss the ol’ pigskin in the backyard with Joe Namath or the number of times Davy Jones swooped in to save us from the embarrassment of having to tell our entire class that we were nothing but lyin’-ass liars. The only kids who did that were the Bradys. And they were fictional! What in the hell happened?


I bet some of you are reading this right now and thinking, “This lady is downright bitter.” But you’re wrong. Wrong to think that my jaded views on senior prom were in any way influenced by the fact that my limousine was an ’81 Bonneville with windows that slid off track and a defective horn that occasionally went off whenever the hell it felt like it. Downright crazy to assume that my views on a teenage rite of passage has been distorted by the fact that the popularity of the movie “Titanic” was the inspiration for my prom’s theme of “My Heart Will Go On.” And I will go on record to say that you’re 100% off the mark in assuming that my after-party consisted of me sipping mini bottles of Bacardi Limon in a hot tub at the Shoney’s Inn simply to erase the memory of girls with freeze-sprayed barrel curl hairdos doing the Macarena in joyful, shoeless abandon.


Wait a second…that is EXACTLY why! Kids today can HAVE their grand gestures and lofty expectations – but I demand reparations! And until a stretch limo pulls up in front of my house and Kevin Bacon emerges with an orchid corsage and plans of whisking me away for an enchated, memory-filled evening – and possibly some awkward, alcohol-induced groping – then my rancor will continue to grow.