Shocked that Ella is posting on Prom night? Expecting a teary-eyed tale from the lonely girl left all on her own at home? Guess again. This is Mr. Ella’s father posting while Ella is out with her classmates.
So is this weird or what? Ella’s out celebrating the iconic — if vastly overrated — rite of passage that caps off high school, and her dad of all people is capturing the moment. Aren’t I supposed to be taking bad photos, making bad puns, and making her date feel uncomfortable about his hormonal urges? I’ve joked about doing precisely that, but I just can’t muster it. Frankly, Ella seems to be taking the whole phenomenon with a detachment beyond her years.
She gets it. Prom is lame, folks. We who’ve been through one know that, whether we hoped it to be a major life milestone or just a time to be majorly stoned. Whether it’s just another dance or the biggest wild binge of your young partying career, it doesn’t take long to realize that the event itself is one of those ceremonial events you go through mostly to fulfill the fantasies of other people. Which in many ways sums up high school itself.
My college song refers to college years as the shortest, gladdest years of life. What a dismal prospect. if you believe your life peaks in high school, you ought to aspire to be the subject of a drivers’ ed movie. Flame out now, so you don’t have to endure 60 years of letdown.
But here’s my big prom night punch line: “It gets better” is for all of us. Believe me, I understand that LGBT kids have it worse than others, and they really need to hear the message that high school is the aberration, and the rest of life is far more fun. But straight kids need to know it, too. High school is a bit like war, I suppose — a hellish slog of tedium punctuated by occasional terror. The camaraderie you forge is unlike anything you’ll achieve in other circumstances, but the rest is best left behind once you can restore your life to a more balanced footing.
So on this very special prom night, pin on that goofy flower, cinch up your ill-fitting cummerbund or strapless gown, enjoy your spiked punch or other contraband, and laugh at the whole ridiculous spectacle. It passes like a bad meal from Taco Bell.
Tomorrow you get to resume the project of becoming who you are. And that’s where the truly meaningful memories will come from.