Issue 1:2 | Non-Fiction | Amanda Rogers
Somewhere, years ago, in some sophisticated high school judicial system, it was unanimously decided that the senior prom - a remarkably boring and laborious annual school dance - was to be considered the most glamorous, romantic event in everyone's high school career. Evidently, my teenage ancestors were not allowed a vote in this ruling. Having attended the prom twice, I can emphatically say that there is absolutely nothing romantic about it.
First, the prom is a year-long event; to the inexperienced eye it seems to make its appearance only in the late spring, but in fact, it begins its reign of terror in August, at the beginning of the school year. From that day forward, no one is immune from the nerve-fraying work that precedes this asinine enterprise.  It is during the first week of classes that each school elects its official prom sponsors, and the race is on; it is up to these humble souls to locate and reserve a hall in which to have their prom; this is not an easy task, considering that every school in the county always wants the same building, on the same night. This part is particularly interesting among rival schools; during my senior year, a rumor was spread that my own dear sponsor, an over-zealous Spanish teacher, assured the manager of a hotel that her students would rent fifty rooms the night of the prom if he would only allow her to have the dance in the hotel's banquet room, which had already been promised to Prestonsburg High School, our athletic nemesis. I never heard any conclusive evidence, but we did have the prom in that particular hotel.
Later in the fall, when the sponsor has procured a hall, it is up to the students to pay for it. This is carried out, of course, by selling worthless junk to people who don't want to buy it. The fund-raising merchandise comes in various forms, but usually falls into two basic categories: thirty-dollar cheese cakes that are the size of silver dollars, and Christmas fruit that arrives in January, frozen and somewhat foul-smelling. It seems such a waste to put nine months of preparation into an event that will, realistically, be a disappointment.
Despite all of the time that goes into creating the prom, in reality, it is not very grand at all; it is merely a conversation piece. Whether they will admit it or not, most people realize that the great senior prom is actually just a glorified, four-hour-long dance in incredibly uncomfortable clothes; knowing this, however, does not deter them from talking about it, planning it, and obsessing over it throughout the year. Having been forced by the education system to encounter the flighty conversation of the high school female population, I can report that they begin discussing their prom dresses in the late fall; by October they have each decided what color and style they want, and what Hollywood seamstress they want to design it; it isn't until late winter that they realize that their McDonald's wages can scarcely afford the sensible dresses that they will ultimately buy. Then, of course, there is always the talk of the limousines that their boyfriends are going to supply for that special night; it is usually early spring before the ladies notice that boyfriends seldom endure as long as prom preparations. While the dresses and limos bring me a unique sensation of nausea, my personal favorite is the talk of their diets. Every teenage girl, in every high school in America, decides a month prior that she must be drastically thinner before she can show her face at an event so grand as this. Then ensues the temporary bulimia of the chubby girls, and the mere continuation of the anorexia of the girls who already weigh less than my bookbag. By the time that fateful night comes, most of them are disappointed, jilted, and physically ill, but at least they have had many months' worth of fascinating conversation about it.
Finally, the most enduring reason that I hate the prom is that it just isn't fun. Actually, it's quite the opposite; it is remarkably uncomfortable physically and mentally, not unlike a mammogram, in that respect. Speaking from the female point of view, I can certainly attest to the suffering associated with the typical prom attire. The shoes are almost always made of clear plastic, and are meant to minimize the appearance of the foot; they do this by cutting off circulation to the toes, and by having at least a four-inch heel. Most of the dresses that I have encountered have strapless tops that are incapable of withstanding the forces of gravity, and bodices made of wire corsets. The corsets are meant to lift the bust and streamline the waist, but, in reality, they can only be credited with holding the back in a ridiculously unnatural position, and poking the ribs when the wearer inhales; but, as the old saying goes, it is necessary to suffer to be beautiful.
The real misery comes once the prom has started; it is at this point, when all the compliments have been paid and all the pictures taken, that panic begins its revolution around the room as the prom-goers start to realize that they are incredibly bored. During this time a few people dance halfheartedly, and somewhat sheepishly, to the music that pours in an annoying screech from a cheap sound system, while a few others will nibble on the soggy vegetable trays that the stale cheesecakes paid for. Everyone else begins to wander off to post-prom parties, or to their respective hotel rooms. I, on the other hand, tend to spend most of my proms sitting at my table, staring at my date, both of us wondering how we could be there with someone so repulsive; none of this is exactly my idea of romance. Nonetheless, when the group comes back to school on the following Monday, the air will be as thick as clabbered milk, oozing with talk of the most romantic night of their lives.
I've no doubt that the general thrill-seeking public will report that their senior prom was a night to be cherished always. Personally, however, I maintain that in the nine months it took to prepare for the prom, I could have had a baby, a process that would be a lot prettier, and a lot less painful. To me, the prom is just another one of those high school memories that will, in later years, give me something to discuss with my therapist.
Amanda Rogers