I don't have a date on this but I think it was 1991. It was my first column for The Peru Tribune, the first time the Window Over the Sink officially opened. Things have changed, of course, including my writing, but the memories are still warm.
Well, it's here. Oh, boy, am I thrilled. It is, after all, every woman's dream to be the mother of a son attending the prom. Or even better, she could be the mother of a daughter attending the prom. I've been both.
It doesn't pay.
"I've never in my life owned and outfit that cost as much as the tux we're renting," I told my son the other day, "And I wear my clothes for a hundred years; you're only wearing this sucker for one night and you're just going to fling the jacket over the back of the chair and spill punch on the shirt."
Last year, when it was my daughter and it was her last high school prom and I was feeling sentimental, I told her not to worry about how much her dress cost. And she didn't. However, when she swished into the living room in shimmering folds of red satin, I did mention that for all that money I thought the dress should at least have a top.
When my oldest son attended his first prom, resplendent in white tie and tails, I told him he looked like an ice cream man and asked where his little truck with a bell on it was parked.
Kids today have no sense of humor.
The prom wouldn't be so bad if they didn't have to go out to dinner, too. I asked my son where he and his date were going.
"She's not real picky about stuff," he said. "We could probably go to McDonald's."
"Great," I said happily.
"But we won't," he added, and then he told me where he did want to go.
So much for retirement.
And then there's the after-prom. Two of my kids have gone to King's Island for after-prom. If they'd only let me know about their plans ahead of time, they could have skipped the prom and we could have bought King's Island for them instead.
We have a discussion every year that a son attends a prom about what car said son will drive.
Not his own. Heaven forbid.
Not mine. It's old and dirty and smells like smoke and has junk all over the back seat.
Which leaves his father's.
Okay, fine, it's prom night. No problem. Go ahead and wash it and clean it out and use it and have a good time.
Guess who ends up washing it and cleaning it out. Right the first time. The man who owns it and the woman who married him for better or for worse but had no idea at the time that kids were so finicky about other people's dirt since they were never finicky about their own.
And did you know nobody goes home on prom night? Did you know that if Dad's car comes up the driveway before dawn, the prom was obviously a failure? Do you know how hard it is to sleep when there are a gazillion kids out there staying out all night doing God knows what but you sure hope He's watching? Do you know what it's like if you have to work the next day? You spend the day walking around like a zombie and saying things like, "Oh, yes, he had a great time," and "She looked so pretty in the dress I didn't even mind that we don't get to take a vacation this year."
But then they're home, and the prom is over. The dress hangs in a bag at the back of a closet--your closet, because hers is too full--or the tux is returned to the store and the explanation made for the spilled punch. In a few weeks, the prom pictures arrive--both the red-eyed snapshots you took and the professional poses from the dance itself.
They're beautiful. Not the pictures so much as the people in them.
And the car's all right. Just a flower petal here and there to show who its occupants were.
The money could have been spent in a lot worse places. The vacation spot will still be there next year, but the kid may not.
Because they grow up on you, quicker than the mind can grasp, and there are no more proms.
I'll miss them.
(Note in 2017. I was right--I do miss them. But I must admit, it's more fun with the grandkids--I get to see the pictures and laugh at the stories, but I sleep all night on prom night and they drive someone else's car.)