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LAUGH LINES

A Night of Crushed Velvet and Cheap Booze

May 22, 1996|CARRIE ST. MICHEL | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Around this time of year, high school seniors nationwide are diligently preparing for final exams by devoting all available energy to frantically studying hundreds of hairstyle possibilities for their upcoming proms.

Some parents, particularly those who have spent a lifetime scrimping, saving and trying to develop a taste for generic liquor so their children could attend college, might not approve of their kids' priorities. At this very moment, in fact, they're probably asking their teens, "What's more important--looking good at the prom--or taking steps to ensure your future success?"

Many of those teenagers will find this a difficult question to answer, as they made a beeline for the mall at the first sign their parents' lips appeared to be moving.

Still, who can blame them? Proms are memorable events that symbolically mark the passage from adolescence to adulthood. So, to parents of teens, I say lighten up and realize that, for at least one night, your teen will be wearing something other than pants that would fit Idaho.

To ensure that teens truly enjoy their big evening out, I suggest you share with them the following "Prom Do's and Don'ts" that appeared in a recent issue of YM magazine:

Pre-prom:

* "Do ask your parents for a curfew extension." You might want, however, to avoid using such phrases as "I'm sure you don't want me to lose the deposit I already put down on the hotel room."

* "Do offer to help your date with finances or offer to cook dinner before the prom." But if your date wants you to cook dinner, be careful not to soil your satin gown while attempting to stuff the young man's body into the trunk of his car.

* "Don't forget to tell your date that he looks great in a tux." And be sure to add that you truly appreciate him taking the time to make sure his outfit would coordinate perfectly with the home-game jerseys worn by the Green Bay Packers.

At the prom:

* "Don't flirt with other people." This type of behavior is considered completely inappropriate for anyone who does not currently hold public office.

* "Don't act like a vanity case, touching up makeup all night." Otherwise, you may be mistaken for Dennis Rodman.

* "Do be friendly and socialize." Unless, of course, you are one of the stuck-up cheerleaders.

* "Don't drink the spiked punch." There is no sensible reason to ever dilute alcohol.

Post-prom:

* "Don't forget to bring a wallet." This is particularly important if your date has indicated that he or she expects to be paid.

* "Do thank your date." You may even want to write a little note:

Dear Prom Date: (Keep in mind that this is just a sample letter. You will want to personalize the salutation to reflect the degree of intimacy you feel by addressing your date as "Sweetheart" or, perhaps, simply listing his social security number.)

It's difficult to describe our special evening together. There were so many highlights, starting when you arrived holding that beautiful corsage, which you politely attempted to pin on me with your tongue.

You certainly must have searched extensively to find your tux, given that so few retailers today appreciate the timeless elegance of multicolored crushed velvet. And never before have I been with someone who felt comfortable enough, despite being in the presence of my very best friends and a large student population, to repeatedly make loud hacking noises and cough stuff up.

I must say I've never seen anyone dance quite like you and, frankly, was surprised that the heat of so many strobe lights did not cause your highly flammable garments to actually ignite.

And there's no doubt people probably would have mistaken you for John Travolta if, during one of the actor's many famous dance scenes, he had ever appeared to be experiencing a serious medical emergency.

Yes, I will remember this night forever.

Or at least until I find a really good therapist.

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