April 16, 2010

Prom as a Rite of Passage

It's been an interesting week in the Fresh home. Our firstborn who is a freshman in high school was asked to the Prom.

Watching her wings open conjures all sorts of parental angst. The logical side of our brain knows it's time to let her open her wings, the emotional side knows that with wing opening comes more dangers. We want to cite the dangers of flying, but also know that it's how she must learn to soar and that flying always begins with a few false starts.

The question probably most accurately isn't whether if she is ready to fly, but rather are we ready to let her fly?  Someone reminded me today that a lot of girls never even get asked to their dances. I traveled back over a quarter century.

***

It was my senior year. I wanted to go to the prom in the worst way. It was the mid 80s and I envisioned a pink, ruffled, crinolined skirt, off the shoulder Scarlett O'Hara-esque look. I wanted to know what this rite of passage was all about. What I lacked, however, was a date. It began to feel hopeless when a twist of fate put a situation before me. A friend of mine broke up with the boy she was going to the prom with about two weeks before the dance. I knew he already had ordered his tuxedo and it was non-refundable. Stalking like a desperate female, I saw opportunity and decided to pounce.

I had always been quite shy in high school. I preferred the world of books to the world of dating and my grades reflected as much. I don't know what inspired me, but I decided to ask this boy to the prom. I hardly knew him, but figured I could appeal to his practical side. Gathering every ounce of courage I had, I asked if I could talk to him after lunch. With a bit of stammering, I asked if he'd be interested in salvaging his tux deposit by going to the prom with me.

He smiled shyly and said yes. Then he suggested we probably ought to get to know each other before prom and we went to a coffee house one evening to visit. He was a perfect gentleman. The night of prom arrived and we spent the evening surrounded by mutual friends. We danced and laughed, it was a perfect evening. I was so proud of my date for being brave when he glanced across the room and saw his ex-girlfriend with her new beau. After the prom, I had forgotten to put a key into my itty bitty evening bag, and I had to call the local firetruck to bring a ladder to climb into my house to change clothing for the afterprom. That had to be qute the image in the crinoline, me climbing a firetruck ladder to shimmy through my brother's bedroom window.

OH, but it was a memorable weekend and I'm so grateful to the boy who said yes. I'll never forget it. Belated thanks!

Two interesting asides: My prom date and my then future spouse share a first name. The future spouse's high school was holding their prom in the other half of the banquet hall. Years later, our wedding reception was held in the same room as my prom. I opted out of the Scarlett O'Hara look for that night, mercifully.

***

As parents, we decided on a conditional yes.

To be safe while she's reaching new heights, she has to wear a helmet.

That ought to do it. I wonder if it should match her shoes or her dress.

(photo: the author, though the dress wasn't as pink as I remembered and the crinoline was lumpy) I still wouldn't trade it.

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