A young professional’s take on the trials and tribulations of everyday life in New York City.
I had mixed feelings about my prom. I’m sure I’m in excellent company here. I went to a pretty large high school with a student body that represented a broad range of kids—not the type of place where everyone goes to the pep rallies (the wha?) or even necessarily knows each other’s names. Prom was a big deal to some, a complete non-deal for many. It was a mid-deal for me, I suppose. On the one hand, I wanted very badly not to give a crap. On the other hand, I also wanted a dress and couldn’t quite ignore the piece of me that knew, deep down, I sort of did give a crap.
So I compromised. I went through the whole rigmarole of photos and limos and God-awful hair, and then departed the dance early. We did the standard after-prom at a now-defunct club called the Sound Factory (anyone else?), where I learned that I hate house music, co-ed bathrooms, and dance clubs. Then we all went to the house of a kid whose parents were affectionately negligent and drank too much beer and fell asleep on the floor. It’s a night I won’t forget, mainly because it happened and I have an okay memory.
In the last week or so, many media outlets have turned their coverage on the prom. And the more I read and listen, the more fondly I look on this event. To be honest, I’m a little retroactively envious of the teenagers who do care and think of it as a special night in their lives. It’s fun and exciting and a little romantic in the way that everything can be a little romantic (or dire and meaningless) when you’re seventeen.
So it sort of broke my heart when I read about poor Connecticut teen James Tate, who has been banned from his prom for asking his date via a taped message on the outside of his school. A slap on the wrist for the mild vandalism, fine. Whatever. (Though really, just peel off the tape and chalk it up to youthful exuberance.) Frankly, I’m more concerned with the “HMU” salutation at the end of his proposal. Somehow, “hit me up” seems to take the sentimentality down a notch, but I guess a kid’s got to maintain his cool factor in the midst of such sweetness. If I’d been asked in any manner even approaching this, there is no doubt that I would have magically been transformed into someone who cares a great deal about the prom. Here’s a kid who took the initiative to stand out, be creative and direct, and make a personal gesture which is pretty grand and very sweet.
In an era of cyber-bullying and sexting and the younger generation’s general inability to interact beyond a screen, shouldn’t this make us all happy? Shouldn’t it be a relief to realize that there are still kids out there who aren’t so glazed over and disconnected that they can still hold the proverbial boombox over their heads to get the girl?
Hopefully, by punishing Tate in such a deliberately spiteful manner, all his school’s administration has done is turn him into a folk hero. Plus, now he and Sonali can go have a picnic and slow dance outside of the gymnasium, a la Kelly Kapowski and Zach Morris. It doesn’t get more romantic than that.
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Nina Pajak is a writer and publishing professional living with her husband on the Upper West Side.
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