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Tuesday, June 17, 2008


'You'll Remember It Forever,' They Said

Prom night.

They started talking about it before I even got to high school.

"The best night of your life," they said.

Some Brits are buying it. Some aren't.

A story in today's Wall Street Journal says British youths have reportedly developed a fondness for the American tradition, so much so they've taken to planning proms of their own, complete with all the frippery of kings and queens (they're British, after all). But the front-page WSJ piece characterized this not as a form of celebration, but as an "Alien Invasion," a cultural US export that the middle-class teen population of Great Britain could do without.

Says the story:
British teenagers say they've seen the events in movies like "American Pie" and television shows such as "The O.C.," and they want the chance to dress up and rent limousines themselves. That means a new reason for Britons to worry about the dilution of their culture, a new burden on parents' pocketbooks, and new businesses selling prom essentials such as tuxedos and corsages.

The piece goes on (and on) about the excess — parents renting hot cars for kids who promise to study harder ... young women splurging on expensive dresses …

A couple of the Brits quoted by the WSJ spoke as though this whole prom thing is an abomination of indulgence, a waste of time and money — the sort of concerns that few American parents have ever contemplated themselves. Nope. Never.

Personally, I paid my own way to prom, and if it were it my choice to do it all over again, I wouldn't. It's not that the whole party-in-a-golf-clubhouse thing turned tragic. I didn't get beat up. I had someone to dance with all evening. I even learned a few life lessons, such as how to identify "chicken cordon bleu" by sight and smell. Regarding tux styles, I also learned to never take fashion advice from someone old enough to be my grandparent, like the tux store owner who assured me that all the coolest tuxes had piping down the pant legs, and on the lapels. That frilly shirt was another of his recommendations. After all that, I insisted on the cane. At the very least I had enough sense to keep a weapon handy, just in case the whole piping thing when horribly wrong in the parking lot. But, really, in terms of it being that "special night to remember," all I recall relates to what a boondoggle it turned out to be.

I suppose I might have different memories if someone else had sprung for it. Unearned dollars spend so much more easily, especially when used to rent something like a Lamborghini. "They" never told me that was part of the tradition too.

Click to e-mail TJ Sullivan in LA
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