I don’t remember being asked to go to my senior prom. I don’t remember the details that led to me sitting on my floor with a smattering of teen and bridal magazines while chatting with my best friend about prom dresses in the perfect shade of teal. And I don’t remember including my then-boyfriend on any of the logistics and planning for that night in June oh-so-many years ago.
Of course, I went to prom and it was wonderful. I wore a teal sequined mermaid-style dress with so much white taffeta trimming that the fashion police would drop dead. There was a limo, there were good friends, there were hundreds of pictures. There was even a late-night stop at a local diner for cheese fries and burgers in our prom finery.
I have a picture of my best friend and me sitting at our prom table, her in a soft cream-colored dress, me in my glittery teal, smiling for the camera, heads together and completely oblivious to the fact that, 20 years later, we’d be sending our own kids to prom.
Only “going to prom” now is so much more than scanning a Seventeen magazine and heading to the mall to find your favorite dress at the 5-7-9 store.
The reason I don’t remember being asked to prom is because, back in the 90s, that part of prom wasn’t a big deal.
Promposals, as the cool kids call them now, weren’t a thing.
Back in my day, elaborate, over the top staging for “the big question” was reserved for momentous occasions like marriage.
And, I admit it: I’ve spent a good deal of time rolling my eyes in the last few years as I’ve seen my friends post pictures of their sons and daughters “promposing” to each other.
It seemed silly and unnecessary.
Every time I’d see a video of a hopeful teen gathering a group of his friends to wear coordinated shirts to sing and dance in order to woo a girl to prom, I wondered what they had to look forward to if they ever decided to get married.
I wondered at what point the “asking” of prom became almost bigger than the “going” to prom portion of the event. Though, nowadays, between hair, makeup, dresses, tuxes and everything in between, prom planning has become next level.
I was content to sit on my front porch, drinking black coffee and shaking my fist at the whippersnappers who thought promposals were necessary. And I silently hoped my teens would never participate in such silliness.
And then the pandemic hit.
My son’s junior year was completely upended in the blink of an eye. No more Friday nights out with friends. No more school activities or sporting events. Phrases like “for the foreseeable future” and “social distancing” were on our tongues at a time when our son should have been preparing to visit colleges and spend the summer cruising in his bright orange car.
Of course, junior prom was canceled. There would be no pictures of him on the stairs standing awkwardly in a tux. There would be no dancing.
Overnight, it felt like we’d been transported to the movie Footloose. The pandemic preacher of the town had just declared that the teens of the town could no longer have fun.
And it broke my heart.
My Changed Promposal Perspective
Over the course of the last year, I’ve hoped and prayed for some semblance of normalcy for my son and his senior friends. I’ve secretly cried to my friends for all that has been lost to our teens in the last year. The innocence of what should be the best years of their lives has been marred permanently.
So, upon the recent announcement that our son’s senior prom was, indeed, on the horizon, it was cause for much jubilation in our home. Visions of my son and his friends dancing around their high school gym like the kids in Grease hand-jived in my head. Wearing masks, of course.
And when my son detailed his large-scale plans to “prompose” to a special girl, it melted my curmudgeonly, promposal-hating heart.
In fact, in a twist no one saw coming, I even heard myself say, “How can I help you pull this off?” and “I think this calls for balloons.” Of course, he mostly rolled his eyes at my “helpful” suggestions but he did smirk and say, “Thanks, Mah” when I pointed out a spelling error on his posterboard.
As I watched my son excitedly craft a posterboard sign with a catchy phrase and attach balloons to the inside of his car, I smiled and realized that promposals are a fun way for teens to communicate beyond a Snapchat or a text. Promposals are a way for teens to express humor and affection, particularly at a time when they’ve been starved for time in proximity to their friends.
And, it was a promposal that made son beam with a smile wider than I’d seen in months when he sent me a picture with the words, “She said yes!”