Last night was Prom Night at my school. Normally, it's something I tend to steer clear of. It's a long, exhausting night that offers a teacher none of the fun of actually going to Prom. You can't get out there and dance (not without looking like a total fool), you don't get to go through all the fun of dressing up and riding in the limo, and, in my case, you know the night's not going to end up in a hotel room. The only real perk of chaperoning prom is you get to eat the meal.
So why did I agree to do it this year? Well, simple -- the class sponsors who organize prom were savvy enough to send Drama and Speech kids to ask me, knowing I couldn't say no to "my kids." Initially, the deal was much simpler. I was asked if I would serve as the announcer for Promenade. For those of you who attended larger schools, Promenade is a charming, small school type of event that involves each couple walking through the gym in front of their friends and family so everyone can see their pretty dresses and take pictures. The couples are announced one at a time and walk along a manufactured runway while cameras snap away. The gym is decorated with lights and balloons so that Mom and Dad get pictures of their kids in front of pretty decorations rather than just the plain old gym. My job as announcer was merely to announce each couple as they entered the gym. I managed to keep most of my ad libbing tendencies at bay, although I did try to give each couple a fun introduction, even if it was something like, "Ladies and gentlemen, let's welcome John Smith and Susan Johnson!" Coming up with 100 different introductions (and yes, there ended up being about 100 different couples) proved a bit challenging, so there were some repeats and some kids got a simple, "And now . . . ."
I had never been to Promenade before and frankly, always thought the whole thing seemed a little corny. I mean, who wants to sit in a gym and watch a bunch of kids in formal wear stomp around the gym floor. It actually ended up being kind of cool. The Project Runway fan in me had fun seeing the different dresses and noticing how some girls picked exactly the dress you'd imagine -- the sweet, perky girl in the fluffy pink cupcake of a dress, the skank in the sort of dress you'd imagine a higher class call girl might wear-- and then there were the girls who were the total shockers -- the total tomboy who suddenly was a vision in yellow taffeta, the shy girl who looks like a modern day Audrey Hepburn. For some of these kids, they may never again get the opportunity to look and feel like a million bucks, and there's something kind of moving about getting to see them get that moment in the spotlight and sharing it with their families and friends. I kind of hope I get asked to announce Promenade again because it was a really special moment to share in.
So that was what I was originally roped into doing. And then, a couple weeks after they sent Emilie to see if I would announce Promenade, the sneaky class sponsors sent another Drama/Speech kid, Hannah, to see if I would be willing to chaperone the dance -- since I was going to be there anyway. (I should point out that Promenade was held at the school, but the dance itself was being held in Macomb, another 30 or so miles away, a good 45 minutes or so from my house.) Hannah told me how they were having a hard time finding "cool" chaperones and then told me who they had lined up -- fellow "cool" teachers who would be fun to hang out with for the evening. Looking at Hannah's pleading face, how could I say no? So suddenly I went from giving up an hour or two of my Saturday to giving up my entire Saturday evening. A week or so later, I overheard the sponsors mentioning that they needed someone to drive the shuttle van from the school to Prom and I was suddenly doing that, too. (I'm no dummy -- saved myself some gas!) The shuttle bus is a nice idea, letting kids whose parents are reluctant to let them drive the 30 or so miles to Prom have a safe ride. Granted, I only had 4 kids in the shuttle, but they needed that ride, so I was glad to help them out.
Prom itself was....interesting. Yes, the meal was tasty. It was fun sitting with some of my teacher pals. I had a couple kids run up and want their picture taken with me. (Thank God it dawned on me that I should probably dress up and put on some makeup) Once the actual dancing started, I was suddenly SO over the Prom experience. First of all, the music was pretty bad. More than once, another teacher had to go and lecture the dj on school appropriate music -- music that doesn't include a "singer" throwing a "motherfucker" in every two words or demanding people to suck dicks. Yeah. Classy. Of course, music like that leads to movement that can't quite be called dancing. The dance floor became this mass of kids just grinding against each other. How those boys didn't all walk off the dance floor with boners escapes me. Mercifully, I was asked if I would sit out in the lobby for awhile to monitor kids leaving. (The policy is once you leave, you can't come back, and if you need to just go to your car, an adult has to accompany you. Makes it a lot harder to go for a quick shot or joint if there's someone with you.) It was significantly cooler out there, the couch there was comfy, and the horrific music was much less loud and harder to hear. A couple kids came out to visit, and that was nice. It felt like the time flew by out in the lobby and suddenly, Prom was over and I was back in the shuttle with kids and heading back home.
All in all, I'd have to say that I would probably have to think twice before agreeing to chaperone the actual dance again if only because my ears like good music and my eyes prefer not to watch my students simulate sex on a dance floor. But, hey, it was an experience!