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A Prom Pro Stuck With Amateurs

May 31, 2000|CHRIS ERSKINE

The trouble with prom today is that you have to deal with a lot of unreasonable people, many of them parents, who have Stone Age expectations about curfews and safety and who you're going to be with.

The trouble with prom today is that some of the limos are Humvee limos. Others are merely Lincolns. That's the trouble with prom, having to ride in a Lincoln limo.

The trouble with prom today is that your little brother makes fun of all the endless preparations that he doesn't fully understand, and your little sister wants to help do your hair, like you're some kind of Barbie doll.

"Hey, is that a salad?" your brother asks, staring into the refrigerator.

"No, that's my corsage," you say.

"Looks like salad to me," he says, licking his little lips.

The trouble with prom today is that it gets a little pricey. Tickets and flowers. Oh, and then there's the Dress. The kind of dress Cleopatra wore to prom, shimmering and a tad suggestive. And your dad keeps asking if maybe you should wear a sweater with the Dress or a Dodgers jacket, because at night it can get a little cool around Los Angeles, as if he's ever been out past 10 o'clock.

"No, that's OK," you say.

"You sure?" he asks. "You could wear my Packers sweatshirt."

"No, Dad, that's OK."

Yes, the trouble with prom is that it can be a little pricey.

Dress: $189

Tickets: $115 per couple

Limo: $160 per couple

Hair for just you: $45

Eyeliner and eye shadow for just you: $24.99

Two disposable cameras for you and him: $20

Earrings for you: $4

Necklace you made yourself: free

Boutonniere for him: $8.75

"Couldn't she just elope?" your father asks.

"It's prom," your mother explains. "Not a wedding."

"Oh," your father says.

The trouble with prom is that you can never find the right shoes, so you need to borrow your mother's minivan and run all over Southern California for just the right pair, praying that nobody sees you driving an actual minivan.

And not just any shoes. Cinderella shoes. Dorothy shoes. Shoes you can barely walk in but that look great with your great dress. And they don't sell those just anywhere.

"You used up half a tank," your mother complains when you get home with her minivan.

"Sorry," you say.

"You can fill it later," she says.

Gas for your mom's minivan: $15.

The trouble with prom is that the florists don't have the flowers you need to put in your hair, and your dad suggests that you could maybe just pick some flowers from the garden and he wouldn't charge you hardly anything at all for those little purple blossoms, the ones growing around the mailbox.

"God, please, no," you say.

"Just a suggestion," your dad says.

The trouble with prom is that your parents are always lining you up for pictures beforehand, even though you're late, and they make your date put on his tuxedo jacket, even though it's, like, 200 degrees outside, then switching everybody around--you with your mother, you with your father, you in front of the bush, you in front of the garden, where the hair blossoms grow.

"My hair, it's collapsing in this heat," you say.

"Just one more picture," your parents say, clicking away while your hair melts.

Then there's the prom itself, which isn't too bad at all. They serve a nice chicken there, with processed mashed potatoes that look like frozen yogurt. With it comes a little sprig of broccoli that nobody eats and carrot shavings. For dessert, there's parfait that tastes like chocolate icing in a cup, with coconut shavings on it.

The trouble with prom is that the day after prom, your family is always asking you, "Did you have a good time?" and, "Who were you with again?" and, "What kind of band did they have?"

And you tell them that there wasn't a band, like in 1776 when they went to prom, that there was this really good DJ playing techno music, which is great to dance to.

"What's techno music?" your dad asks.

The trouble with prom is your little brother explains to your dad what techno music is, dancing around like a chimpanzee and making strange sputtering sounds with his mouth and nose.

"I like that kind of music," your little sister says.

"Me too," says your dad, though you're pretty sure he's just kidding.

The trouble with prom is that your dad and mom get all nostalgic for when they were young like you and able to give parents a hard time and make them stay up worrying half the night.

"I wish I could go to prom," your dad says.

"I'll take you," your mother offers.

"Can we get a Humvee limo?" he asks.

"Of course," she says. "That way you can fall asleep on the way home."

"Good," he says. "Chicken always makes me sleepy."

That's the trouble with prom.


Chris Erskine's column is published on Wednesdays. His e-mail address is

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