It’s spring again, which means it’s time for yet another round of horror stories about how the institution of “the prom” has gotten completely out of control. It’s not just the limousines and the comically lengthy ball gowns, either. Young men are apparently pestering celebrity women for dates. There’s the creepy recent practice of “promposals,” when teenagers perform a big public display, often with teddy bears and flowers, of asking a date to the prom. And now, a new tradition: Boys are conducting “prom drafts,” for which girls in a high school are ranked by supposed desirability and boys have to bid on who gets to ask whom to the prom.
If I may address teenagers directly for a moment: Look, kids, I know we adults probably have little of value to say to you. We are, objectively, from generations that are lazier, meaner, and more prone to having unprotected sex than you are. Plus, we are old. But take it from your Aunt Amanda, who, from a combination of small-town boredom and friends who were far too eager to set her up on dates, strapped on the corsage and went to far more proms, homecomings, and other assorted dorky teenage events than she cares to admit: The prom is not worth all this creativity! The music sucks, the clothes don’t look nearly as good as you think they do, and no one ever comes off as anything but awkward in the photos. Go for five minutes, and then run off to smoke in the park like a proper teenage dirtbag. Throw the devil’s horns or stick your tongue out, Miley style, for the photos. Start a mosh pit or give your chaperones the vapors by having a twerking contest. But whatever you do, don’t take it so seriously.
One more bit of advice from an elder: Blowing off your prom now is great practice for not taking your wedding too seriously when you’re older. Your friends and family will thank you for it.