Senior Prom as an Adult

April 23rd, 2005

INSPIRATION: Vanessa was signed up to chaperone senior prom. I laughed and said two words: have fun. I had no intent of going. Then, I found out that the prom was on our 6-year anniversary. Well, in an effort to hang out with her a little bit, I agreed to go. We enjoyed our day before the prom, then got dressed up to go. She didn’t stay for long (bad night for her), but we did get to see a few students on their big high-school night.

Written: 04.23 and 05.19.05

Senior Prom as an Adult
I trudged up the stairs, a bag of Nutrio cat food drapped over one shoulder, a classic-black rental tuxedo slung over the other. Nudging open the front door, the cat food slumped to the ground as I rushed into the bedroom to go through the penguin-attire process. The shoes are always the worst. I want to get some sandpaper and scratch the bottom of those shoes a bit so I don’t slip on every single thing that I step on.

Walking gingerly into the kitchen, past the mirror doors of the hall closet, I grab a bottle of water for the drive over to Santa Cruz. I’m going to chaperone the senior prom tonight.

While senior prom certainly isn’t my favorite event to supervise, I love watching the students having a great time. I stand near the busses unloading and get a chance to see them dressed up, excited about this milestone in their high school career, looking forward to a night of eating and dancing. At Santa Cruz, it’s a night of video games, too. Coconut Grove allows the students into the arcade to play games all night for free (well, from 9:00 to 11:30). Laser tag is available for a small fee.

I didn’t go to my own senior prom. There’s no attempt to recapture my childhood, though. I actually didn’t enjoy my high school experience much. The further away I am from that time of my life, the better as far as I’m concerned. So it’s odd how much I enjoy my job and the events that come with it. Sure, I wish I was doing something better on the night of my 6 year anniversary of my relationship with Vanessa. Yet I found myself enjoying the night.

I’ve been to the senior prom as a chaperone three times before, so I know what the night has in store. It’s usually not too eventful. Last year the prom was in San Francisco and there was some drinking we had to be careful of. But the other times I’ve been at prom, nothing has happened. This year was no exception, which is a good thing.

Standing on the sidelines of the dances, watching couples quickly turn bitter only to reconcile in time for the last dance, all of these things bring a smile to me. And it’s not a smile of a fond memory from a time in my own life that was similar. It’s a smile because I know that, even though they act up in my classroom and even though they throw off attitude when I tell them to “get to class” and even though they find themselves in Schroeder’s office, the discipline principal with whom students really do not enjoy spending time, despite all these things, they are still kids trying to grow up and discover their own way to live, enjoying little marks that lead up to a time in their lives when they will become independent.

Back to prom, it’s such an odd thing to be an adult in that atmosphere. There are so many guys that I just want to have a talk with, either to tell them how stupid they are being or to tell them to “just let her go, man.” Really, it’s another opportunity to see roles played out. Architypes exist in high school, too. And, of course, being old enough to see those architypes play out is an interesting sociological experiment. Maybe that’s why it’s not so bad to charperone the senior prom. It’s almost as if they try on a very slightly more adult persona, just to see how it fits. What we see that night may be a little hint of the adult inside these students, the adult they have to offer society later, the adult that will begin to emerge a few years after high school, an adult that will continue to develop well after 10 years past high school.

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