So prom is coming and soon the city streets will be filled with screaming teenagers “WOOT!”-ing from the sunroofs of their limousines. Their pretty pastel dresses blowing in the wind and their corsages high up in the air.
Oh, to be 18 again.
Actually, no thanks.
I didn’t go to my prom. And, no, I wasn’t a total outcast in high school. I just wasn’t really a joiner. I didn’t go to my junior prom, either. I just wasn’t all that into school spirit. I went to an arts high school so many of us were kind of above it in that high school artist pretentious way.
I was also dating this 23-year-old guy at the time. He may have flat-out told me that there was no way in hell he would take me to prom because it would be so weird for a 23-year-old guy to be at prom. Apparently he didn’t think it was “so weird” for a 23-year-old guy to be dating a girl in high school -- but my dad sure thought so.
So instead of going to prom, we went to New York City for the weekend. It was my first time in New York and I really wanted to wear a pretty dress, but it was too cold and rainy and windy and I remember spending the better portion of our “romantic” weekend fighting instead of gallivanting around looking fabulous.
Whatever. I still don’t regret it.
My high-school friends weren’t really making a big deal out of prom, either. Again, typical arts school apathy. A lot of the girls went stag or went with their besties. Our prom welcomed same sex dates. Carver Center for Arts & Technology is a really progressive high school.
They all got their dresses at the Towson Town Mall Macy’s or Nordstrom. When my mom and I went to those department stores to see if there was anything I would have liked all the dresses and gowns were pastel, beaded and just looked … I don’t know, basic? I’m an attention whore and I demanded to stand out. I would rather not go to prom then show up looking just like everyone else.
But I think my biggest deterrent from prom was all the hoopla and preparation that went into it. Even though I love getting pretty, I hate being stressed out. Getting ready for prom looked exhausting. So if you remember how stressful prom was back then, can you imagine how stressful it must be now?
Girls are making their parents buy dresses that cost more than my rent in Williamsburg. And all for a night that’s not really going to mean much 10 years from now, unless it’s the night you turned in your v-card, in which case get it, girl. Live your life.
Girls today snap Instagrams of their dresses, not just to show them off, but to claim the dress and make sure no one else buys it. I guess Brenda and Kelly could have used Instagram back in the 90s. Actually, I shouldn’t mock this because I would be super pissed if someone wore the same dress I wore to prom. It’s mortifying enough when a stranger does it, but when it’s someone you know, it’s even worse. It can take weeks if not months to find the perfect dress for prom and you just don’t copy a friend’s hard fought for dress. It’s like the rules of feminism.
Maybe I’m just jealous. Perhaps if I had the money back then and could afford Neiman’s over Macy’s, I, too, would have gotten a hot designer dress that made me stand out in a sea of lavender and baby blue. My friend Michelle, who was two years ahead of me and whose parents made bank, wore a Versace dress to prom and took a lot of heat for upstaging damn near everyone. She looked good and she wasn’t sorry.
But somehow I don’t feel like my reluctance to participate in high-school events and the drama that came with it hindered my life in anyway. I got invited to a grown-up prom in 2010, put on a gown my mom bought me when I won a national writing competition in high school, and had the best time with my (age appropriate) boyfriend getting our drunk out in the open and shaking it on the dance floor with a bunch of strangers.
We even met up with some friends downtown later that night and stayed out till the sun came up. I guess I got my night to run around in a fabulous ball gown through the streets of Manhattan after all –- 7 years later.
Did you skip your prom, too? Do you regret it? Would you go to prom now if you had a chance? And if you did go to prom, I demand detailed stories -– from dress costs to virginity losses. Go!