Monday, April 30, 2012

That Time of Year

            I could talk about gender inequality for pages on end, but I think most guys are willing to admit: we generally have it easier in high school. Girls come to school every day and are forced to operate under a harsh and unforgiving set of social pressures—pressures that aren’t always obvious to a third party. For 90% of the time, this remains the case.  But for a few weeks every year, there arrives a time when the roles reverse.
Come spring, just as the leaves of budding trees begin to bloom, junior and senior prom proposals start to sprout up all over the school. At peak interval, it’s fairly common to witness two, even three public proposals a day. Most of the time, you only hear about the successful ones: massive posters, creative messages, etc. But what go often unnoticed by the general populous are the failed attempts. Let’s face it, unless you’re in a relationship with someone, finding a prom date is stressful. When you ask someone to prom, you’re making that person commit to you and only you. But what if that person has another date in mind? Side note, for all the women who prefer to do the asking themselves, don’t think I’m forgetting about you; it’s equally as stressful. Prom is an inveterate tradition from the past that modern society hasn’t been able to shake yet. So for the time-being, we just have to deal.
To add to the burden, there’s a universal presumption that if it’s a prom proposal, it obviously has to be an inspired spectacle, and even a public spectacle in many instances. Originality is crucial. There’s nothing worse than someone who is clearly underwhelmed by a proposal. Your prom proposal is, in some respect, a direct representation of your confidence. If it’s disarrayed and unimaginative, your potential date will probably feel like you don’t care enough about him or her to put in a courageous effort.  
On a fundamental level, prom is nothing more than an overdramatized photo shoot with an often mediocre dance that follows. Yet we’ve exaggerated its significance to the point where students spend weeks worrying about who they’re gonna take and how they’re gonna ask. It seems almost frivolous, but it is what it is. Prom isn’t going anywhere for a while, and in the meantime, kids have no choice but to play the game. It’s an intrinsic part of the high school experience; a rite of passage for all students. And at that, fuck it. Isabel Rickman, will you go to prom with me?

What should she say?