I was stalking my daughter's Facebook the other day and came across this picture she took last year of her senior prom invite, or the Ask, as the kids call it. You don't see them in the photo, but there were dozens of blown up beach balls covering every square inch of her bedroom floor, the bed, and her closet. I don't know if John did the lung work by himself, or if he had help from friends, but I hope he had help. Otherwise, he would have come seriously close to passing out from hyperventilation. I know this from personal experience trying to inflate air mattresses, swimming pool toys, and balloons for kiddie parties. Anyway, that photo is what prompted me to write this blog.
These days, asking a girl to a school dance can rival the biggest Ask of any red-blooded male's life, to wit: requesting the hand of the woman he loves. What used to be a simple phone call in my day has morphed into a major deal that can require much planning, organization, and sometimes a cast of tens.
Some do what amounts to the oldest trick in the book: they get white shoe polish and invite their date to the dance by writing the invitation all over her car windows. Girls who get Asked in this manner, I'm told, are looked down on by their peers because their dates didn't care enough to put any real effort into the Ask. Other guys strive to keep it simple with a few roses, a teddy bear or maybe a box of chocolates. I know of one boy who Asked his date to homecoming with a platter of sushi, her favorite, arranged to say HC?.
Obviously, the more complicated/expensive/daring/creative the Ask, the harder the boy is going to fall if his intended rejects his invitation. But he can typically get around this obstacle by finding out first if the girl is even interested in going with him. Usually, he'll broach the subject with the girl's BFF. If he gets the green light, he'll proceed with his plans, fairly secure that he won't get shot down. You really have to feel sorry for guys these days.
The photo above was taken at a pep rally the fall of my daughter's junior year. Her boyfriend at the time, one of the senior football captains, Asked her to homecoming in front of the entire school. He's the one carrying the blue question mark. It was certainly one of the highlights of her high school years, and something she will never forget. Several months later, things ended badly between them, opening the way to what was the most surprising, and probably ballsy, Ask ever.
The break up occurred just weeks before the 2010 senior prom. When the dust had settled a bit and the two of them were able to speak civilly to each other again, it was agreed that they would attend prom as planned, but as friends.
One night, less than three weeks before prom, Richard and I were settled comfortably in the den watching television, when the door bell rang. Richard answered the bell, hollered at Paige to come to the door, and returned to the den with a funny look on his face. When I asked who it was, he inclined his head in the general direction of the door and told me to go peek for myself.
Paige was standing there talking with someone I couldn't see, but as I got closer and the angle got better, I was able to make out a pair feet, the rest of the body obscured by the biggest bunch of helium balloons I had ever seen, no hyperventilation problems there. Getting closer, I saw that one of the balloons was actually somebody's head, a young man she was very good friends with and a senior at her school. I said a quick hello, suggested that she invite Connor into the house, and raced back to the den, burning with curiosity. Richard, who could hear snatches of the conversation from the doorway, said it sounded like Connor was asking our daughter to prom. He got this impression from hearing her say, "Oh, my God...are you asking me to prom?" I immediately felt terrible for Connor, knowing he was going to get turned down since she had an understanding with the ex-BF.
Some 40 minutes later, Paige walked into the den looking bemused. Still feeling horrible for the young man, I said, "I hope you turned him down gently." She shocked us both by replying, "I haven't turned him down."
"But I thought you had an understanding with Mason."
"Are you seriously considering ditching one for the other?"
"Who would you rather go with?"
She didn't even hesitate. "Connor."
At this point, my husband mumbled, "I'm outta here", and dashed for the safety of the bedroom. Chicken.
To make a long story short, Connor had swept her off her feet. He had just broken up with his GF, someone he had dated for well over a year. He wanted to take Paige to prom and despite the odds and extremely short notice, he was determined to try. What girl can resist the grand gesture? As she put it, "He really wants to take me. Mason and I are just going to be going." I encouraged her to sleep on it, pointing out that she might feel differently in the morning. Instead, she made up her mind that night and texted Connor to tell him she would go to prom with him. Immediately, I felt horrible for Mason.
I don't condone my daughter's actions. Regardless of the problems between her and her ex, she did have an understanding with him. In case you are wondering, Mason was able to find a date. When one is a varsity football captain and varsity baseball captain, it's easy to find girls.
With prom season looming, maybe I will write a future blog with suggestions and ideas for that all-important Ask. Consider it a public service for beleaguered boys everywhere.
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