Prom night 1998/2013: Some traditions never change, but they sure do look funny
Ah, prom season. That time in life when you get to publicly display your teenage awkwardness by wrapping it in a sequined nightmare from Dillard's and parading it around in a limo that costs as much as your first semester at community college. Or maybe that was just my own experience.
Prom night, 1998: As Tim Gunn would have said to a future fag hag like me, that's a lotta look.
Clearly, from the photographic evidence displayed above, I was the fucking weirdo at prom. When my current boyfriend saw this picture sitting on my dining room table yesterday morning, he said that based on the cheesy airbrushed background (not my choice) and my bizarre ensemble (totally my choice), he couldn't tell in which decade I actually went to prom.
Of course, it was the glorious late '90s (when he was still in middle school), but I can understand how my unintentional Mae West re-creation could be very confusing. This past weekend, as I helped ship my littlest sister off to her senior prom, I thought more about my own anxious, end-of-high-school-life-as-we-know-it experience and realized that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
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Whether your prom was in 1998, like mine, or 2013, like my sister's, your fancy dress still becomes immediately outdated once someone takes a photograph of it. It's like the law of the universe or something.
The hair, too -- or the "up-do," as it's called in girl culture -- looks dated no matter what decade your big dance was. But the thing is, up-dos haven't changed much in the last thirty years (with the exception of mall bangs being added and subtracted from the mix in the '80s).
My sister, being the smarter, younger version of me, didn't want to spend money on an over-hairsprayed-caterpillar-on-your-head-shellacked-with-glitter up-do, so she enlisted me to do it. The result was a really cute hairdo. One that will no doubt look so 2013 (or so 2004, 1997,1986) next year.
She seemed slightly bummed that she wasn't up for prom royalty, but I reminded her: Those ever-important prom royalty people? No one cares, and no one keeps track after prom night. In fact, if you mention to anyone post-high school that you were prom king or queen, chances are they will think less of you. (Or maybe that's just how judgmental I am.)
To better my prom-royalty avoidance point, I reiterated what my friend Paula has always said: No one wants to peak in high school. Save your big moments for adulthood.
Another thing about prom that seems to remain the same is the idea that prom itself kind of sucks. I mean, the night isn't about the dance. It's about taking eight hours to get ready, eating sixteen pounds of pasta at the Cheesecake Factory, riding around in a limo bumping "Can't Nobody Hold Me Down" on repeat, and spending the night in a hotel room with your friends and maybe some wine coolers.
As far as a date is concerned, it is best to take a friend -- which my sister cleverly did, mostly because she had broken up with her boyfriend recently. But truly, to have a good time as a teenager, you want to be around someone you can act silly with. Because otherwise, you'll end up having an awful time staying uptight and trying to look cool in front of someone you want to bone. And that's no fun. You get your whole adult life to play that charade.
In my case, I mistakenly took my college co-worker from KB Toys -- on whom I had a terrible crush. He did not feel the same way, hence that awful picture above that screams awkwardness. I hope he at least had fun feeling up my friend in the hotel room later that night.
Being the cool older sister I think I am, I hooked my sis up with a free limo. This also meant she had to deal with me chaperoning the entire night, as I rode in the passenger seat of said limo. Luckily for my mom, my sister is the kind of kid who thinks drinking and drugs are extra lame -- so I didn't even have to do any party policing like the overzealous sister I tend to be. That happens when you're fourteen years apart: You become a parent to a child you didn't birth.
But I did get to sit in the back of the limo for two hours eating healthy takeout with my friend the limo driver while prom was popping off at the Aquarium. And there is nothing creepier than two sober, thirty-plus-year-old women sitting outside prom in a limo in an empty parking lot drinking Kale-aid and eating turkey burgers while listening to the Nuggets game.