Regular readers of this blog know that my wife and I have a pretty simple philosophy when it comes to our teenage daughter, Faith, dating: No. (See here and here.) Therefore you might be surprised to hear that Faith went to the prom last Saturday night. And yes, there was a boy involved from an unrelated gene pool. How did this happen? One word: conspiracy.
Faith has a female cousin just a few months older than her and they’ve been best pals from the playpen. They both think that boys are nice to have around, but what really makes their hearts beat fast right now are prom dresses. I think we were still taking down Christmas decorations earlier this year when they hatched a plan for the spring dance.
The boy part was easy. The cousin has a boyfriend. The boyfriend has a best friend. The best friend wasn’t doing anything the second Saturday in May. The deal was proposed and closed directly: the girls would buy the tickets, the guys would rent tuxes and buy dinner. Now – on to the Mall! It was about this point where my wife became a co-conspirator. I’m not sure how this was accomplished, exactly, but it may have involved lattes.
All I know is I was standing innocently in our kitchen a couple of months ago with my lovely wife and lovely daughter – two people I trusted implicitly – when Faith casually mentioned something about going to the prom. “Hmm,” I said, “let me think about that a minute. No.”
“I already told her she could go,” my wife said, albeit sheepishly.
“Wha-,” I said, as the floor began to open beneath me. I began to splutter: “Prom? Boys? Dark cars? Boys!”
I knew I was going down, but it didn’t mean I had to make it easy for them. It was pretty clear that fashion, not passion, was behind the conspiracy and I knew that three of the four kids involved were more than trustworthy, while the fourth was new to me but appeared as if he valued his life. Nevertheless it was worked out that my wife would be one of the volunteer parent chaperones at the event, which would require her staying up well past her bedtime. It was also arranged so that the four youngsters would come to the house for a cook-out in advance so I could get to know the new guy better.
When they arrived for the cook-out we all visited for a little while in the living room, and then I went into the kitchen to prepare the hamburger patties, which required carving them from a tube of partially frozen ground beef. I cut a couple of patties with my heavy duty 10″ chef’s knife when I realized I needed more information. Walking back into the living room, I motioned to the new guy with the slightly dripping point of the knife. Contrary to Faith’s report of the incident, the knife was nowhere near his face. I was easily three feet away. Two feet, at least. And besides, Faith can’t be a reliable witness because she hid her face behind a sofa pillow when she saw me walk into the room. Nevertheless, knowing something about teenage boys, I had to ask an important question.
“How many burgers can you eat?” I asked the kid.
“How many do you want me to eat?” he said.
“Good answer!” my wife said.
“Kill me now,” my daughter said.
Anyway, we all lived through the evening and the weeks leading up to prom seemed to fly by. On Saturday Faith went to her cousin’s around noon to begin hair and make-up preparations. At 4:30 I joined the other parents and close family at my sister-in-law’s house for the photo op. Altogether there were 11 adult paparazzi and half a dozen cameras flashing the four elegantly dressed youth. It looked like a Hollywood premiere. Faith was especially breathtaking with her hair exquisitely styled on top of her head, long sparkly earrings and an elegant dress that could have used another yard of fabric if you asked me, but no one did.
Then it was time for them to be off, and time for firm handshakes with each of the boys. “Drive wisely,” I said, and my voice didn’t crack a bit.
The evening went marvelously, and the youngsters were only a little late getting home after stopping to pick up late night tacos and wow the crowd at Taco Bell.
My wife also made it home from her chaperone assignment without falling asleep, largely due to the startling effect of watching what passes for dancing these days. You see, there’s this thing called “freak” dancing – because it “freaks” parents out, I think – that involves a young lady(?) placing her fundament against her escort’s crotch and both of them vigorously gyrating (music optional). It appears that girls have finally found a way to get the boys out on the dance floor. My wife felt as if she should get out on the floor as well, but with a bucket of water or a garden hose. She settled for prayer instead. It kind of makes the old notion of a guy hoping for a goodnight kiss seem a bit quaint, doesn’t it? I mean, after three hours of something like that with teenaged nerve endings a peck on the cheek would be – oh, shall we say – anti-climactic?
Fortunately, the little flock she was most interested in appeared to be having a very good time but at more discreet distances. She does, however, admit to being discreet herself, letting them out of her sight for long, long stretches at a time.
As for the rest of you kids, though, be warned: she’s calling your mothers.