For many baby boomers who graduated high school in the ’60s, prom was something that no self-respecting hippie would dream of attending. Shedding our bell-bottoms and tie-dyed shirts to don tuxedos and formal long dresses with wrist corsages was just beyond the pale — no matter how many times our mothers begged us to reconsider and go.
Fast forward to now, and proms have come back in fashion. But viewing them from the parental perspective, we have to admit that there are a couple of things we hope our kids won’t do on prom night.
1. Don’t hand us a motel bill.
No, it isn’t really about the money. Proms have long had the reputation of being “the night” when relationships are consummated with more than just a kiss. You’re getting our drift, right?
Proms are high-adrenaline events where everybody is wearing grownup clothes and grownup makeup even though many still aren’t real grownups. In a few short months, everyone will disperse to their college or gap year experience around the globe. Invariably they will lose touch with their prom dates until they awkwardly bump into them over Christmas in the hometown market’s produce aisle.
The average age for first-time sex is 17 in the United States, says Guttmacher Institute. By age 18, 61 percent of teens report that they have had intercourse. There are no statistics about how many liars are in the bunch — or how many cherries get popped specifically on prom night.
If you are engaging in sexual activities, do so safely, protect yourself against pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, and pay for the motel yourself.
2. Don’t get drunk or high in the limo.
Think of the limo driver as an extension of the police department. If you aren’t legally old enough to drink or if you bring illegal substances along for the ride, the limo driver can and will report it. He earns his living driving people to places. He’s not going to risk his job for the likes of little ol’ you.
3. Don’t puke in the car.
There is generally a $200 to $300 clean-up fee which will be billed to the credit card you gave the limo company should someone become sick in the car. No, we aren’t talking car sickness that comes from being in stop-and-go traffic. Puking because you are drunk is not the rite of passage that so many teens think it is. It’s a self-protective device you body engages in to stop you from drinking yourself to death. Yes, you can drink yourself to death. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control says alcohol poisoning killed an average of 2,221 people a year in the United States from 2010 through 2012. That’s six people a day. Again, no one keeps track of how many deaths by booze occur on prom night.
4. Don’t take or share racy photos.
Most parents would prefer you didn’t do this on any night, but let’s focus for the moment on prom night. Teen girls these days feel a lot of pressure to portray themselves as sexy. Apps like Snapchat are ripe for taking/sharing boob shots or poses in which you look like you are about to do a lap dance.
What you may not know is that it is illegal for your date to even ask you to do it. You are a minor, he may be as well, and even Snapchat wants you to quit it.
In November 2013, child pornography charges were levied against 10 teenage boys in Canada after a teacher caught one of them with explicit Snapchat pictures. The police said that the boys were trading the photos — in several cases, of each other’s girlfriends — among themselves on their smartphones.
In addition to being illegal, it’s also just plain stupid. College admissions counselors have said that they check out applicants on Facebook to learn more about them. What kind of posts throw up a red flag? Let’s just say that students with beer cans in their hand who give the finger to the camera may not fit the profile of who the college hopes to attract.
This is Miley. Don’t be like Miley.
5. Don’t get into a fight.
What is it with proms and fights? Are emotions about high school ending so raw that kids just lose control? “I didn’t like the way you looked at my date,” is not a reason to come to fisticuffs. Nor is “You’ve been a bully since fifth grade. Tonight that ends.”
Remember what you learned in kindergarten: Use your words, please.
6. Don’t say something to someone that you will regret later.
Prom night is not the time to tell the A-list girls what you really think of them. Nor should it be when you tell your best friend that no, you actually don’t want to room with her in college. Proms are for dancing, laughing, reminiscing and having fun. That, or you might as well just ditch going and put on those old bell-bottoms your mom still has stored in the garage.