Patch Pitch: Prom Tales
Share your favorite prom memories with Patch.
Welcome to the time of year ripe for awkward photos, broken curfews, ill-fitting tuxedoes and long, strapless gowns. It’s prom season in America, and there’s photographic evidence of it all over Facebook.
Prom marks the culmination of the high school experience and is one of the most eagerly anticipated social occasions in a teen’s life. It’s the last hurrah before graduation and a chance to cavort with friends while donning beautiful (in most cases, but I’ve seen a couple of doozies, too) attire.
It’s believed the first prom occurred in the mid-1800s and was actually called a promenade, or formal introductory parading of party guests. In the 1890s, this event was shortened to “the prom.” History suggests that prom, for the masses, was originally modeled after the debutante balls hosted by wealthy parents for their teenage children.
Proms of yesteryear leaned toward far simpler affairs than their modern-day counterparts. Kids would wear their Sunday finest and dance, socialize and sip tea. This is in sharp contrast to the blowout, all-night events of today replete with salon services, corsages, limos, fancy dinners out, DJs, after-parties, etc. According to a recent survey by Visa, the average family spent a whopping $807 on each teen who attended prom in 2011.
Today’s proms also involve the crowning of a prom court. Some well-known past celebrity prom queens include Halle Berry, Rosie O’Donnell and Cindy Crawford (she was also the valedictorian at her school.) And not to be outdone, Matthew Morrison -- Mr. Shue on Glee -- was a prom king back in the day.
Another interesting celebrity prom tidbit: rockers Bono and Jon Bon Jovi both are still happily married to the women with whom they went to their high school proms.
Something else that is new with modern proms is the elaborate planning that goes into the process of creatively asking someone to prom. I recently heard of a friend’s daughter being asked via a delivered pizza that had, “Prom?” spelled out in black olives. I also know of a young man who asked out the date of his dreams (someone he had admired from afar) via a pack of Icebreaker’s gum, with the following inscription: “If you go to prom with me, it will be the perfect Icebreaker for us to get to know each other better.” Both recipients answered in the affirmative.
I, myself, have only participated in one prom in my lifetime yet still managed to make it to adulthood fairly well-adjusted (depending on who you ask). As faithful readers know, I attended Heidelberg American High School (in Germany) for ninth and 10th grades. When I was in 10th grade, I was one of several sophomore class leaders who were picked to be “prom pages” – basically, glorified wait staff.
Each of us was paired with a classmate of the opposite gender and got costumed in Renaissance attire. The guys all had to wear tights and hats with feather plumes, but, miraculously, that didn't dissuade anyone from wanting the gig. The event befitted the historic Heidelberg Castle venue, where our prom was held. It was a huge honor to be chosen and remains one of my fondest high school memories.
(I also feel compelled to mention that had I graduated from my German high school, instead of having to come back stateside to attend Hayfield Secondary for my last two years, my senior trip would have been to Lloret de Mar, Spain! But, I digress…)
Bitterness aside, let’s get back to the topic at hand. We’d love to hear about your unforgettable prom moments.
Please tell us in the comments below about a creative way you asked or heard someone get asked to prom. Or, talk to us about a unique venue (did any old-timers attend President Ford’s daughter, Susan’s, prom at the White House in 1975, for instance?).
Or possibly, share a funny experience from your prom night. Or, if you’re really bold, feel free to post an old photo of you in your baby blue taffeta dress or leisure suit. Is there anyone out there who is still married to the man or woman they took to prom? We want to hear from all of you – teens currently going to prom along with the more seasoned who went to prom years ago – regarding your memorable prom tales.
I’m cueing the disco ball now to set the mood …