In a moment of weakness, I agreed to be a class advisor despite having no experience advising a class. The first two years were survivable: mostly, I coordinated a couple of fundraisers and homecoming floats and navigated the class through "traditions" that "everyone knows" -- except people like me who "didn't even go here.". This is the big year, though, for with the junior year comes the prom. I had visions of girl fights and gossipy backstabbing. Mean Girls in real life. (Because the boys who sign up just want to arrange for security and have a say in the food choices.)
I dreaded the first meeting of the prom committee. I thought for sure we'd argue over a prom theme ("No, I said Moonlight and Harmony!". "That's dumb! It should be Starlight and Sex!")
I should also mention that I boycott all superficial popularity contests and have no idea how to organize a royal election at a dance in an aggressively democratic country that broke away from a monarchy over 230 years ago. Ah, well, I'll save that road for another day.
I was genuinely surprised when at the first committee meeting (with about 40 students present) a theme received unanimous agreement: Vegas. When I approached my principal for approval, he voiced the same concerns I had -- what do we mean by Vegas? Drinking? Showgirls? Gambling? The kids all understand that the prom must be school-appropriate; they meant the glitz and glam of Vegas, the bright lights, the card games (we're working on awards for winners--basket raffle perhaps?) and our theme was approved.
I booked a location, and we started the search for prom favors. Clearly the students at MHS have a more mature understanding of prom's very visible representation of the school than the companies that have sent me sundry catalogs since August. In case you haven't had the pleasure perusing prom catalogs, let me fill you in.
I admit, I didn't exactly gush over the idea of choosing prom favors. (Prom serves, pragmatically speaking, as a dress- rehearsal for planning a wedding. And Mike and I gave out gag CDs of "Our Favorite Love Songs" including songs like "Love Stinks" at our wedding. I am not sure all of our guests got the joke. Ah well, that's the risk you take with irony.). That said, I barely glanced at the catalogs that kept arriving daily.
One day, junior Sarah Pfaff (now she can Google her name and find my blog. Instant bragging rights!) pointed out a whistle keychain favor advertised as doubling as "a safety device for female students.". Wait. What? "It's a rape whistle, Mrs. Connor."
We turned with closer inspection on the favors advertised: most of them are alcohol glasses with thinly veiled names. What most would call a shot glass is a "votive holder" or an "expresso glass." Yes, I am entirely convinced that if I gave high school students a shot glass, they will fill it with coffee. Yessirree.
Some companies call a spade a spade and offer flutes and hurricane glasses.
In the midst of a social climate that venerates alcohol, in a country where underage drinking is rampant, in a time when alcohol-related crashes tragically claim young lives annually, it is reprehensible that prom companies market drinking paraphernalia to teens.
We did decide on a favor, for those of you biting your nails in anticipation: poker chip key chains. Sure, we could be criticized for promoting gambling. But I'd rather defend our choice of good, clean fun than send our kids home with rape whistles and shot glasses.