Men, if you are the father of a daughter, I want to take this moment right here, right now to apologize to you for prom.
I have heard fathers complain about the cost of shoes their daughters just had to have for prom. Shoes that “totally make the dress.” Shoes that are removed as soon as pictures are finished. Shoes that never touch the dance floor. Shoes that make a girl take tiny steps and hold onto her date’s arm to keep from falling over. Shoes that cause blisters wherever they touch skin. Shoes that click clack on the tile throughout the house for weeks prior to prom as they are worn with sweatshirts and shorts while they are being broken in.
I have no idea what my prom shoes looked like. I know I didn’t buy new ones. I think I wore a strappy sandal pilfered from my mother’s closet. For me, it was all about the dress.
I started planning my prom dress when I was 8 years old. The big stucco house across the street had a large front porch and a family of five girls, with the youngest being my constant friend. In the spring we watched her glamorous older sisters pose on the porch before being whisked away by their dates.
In the summer we would raid her attic to play dress up in the tiers of pastel tulle. Layers of pale yellow tulle stood stiff around our tiny bodies as if we had been swallowed by a giant canary. The dresses often had a flower fashioned out of tulle or taffeta affixed to the waistband and long satin ribbons to be tied in bows in the back.
Using one hand clamped on the bodice to keep it from falling off and the other holding up the voluminous skirts we would make our way to the porch and promenade from side to side as the fabric swished around our scrawny legs.
We wore bizarre plastic wigs that fit our heads like helmets, but allowed us to choose to be a blonde, brunette, or redhead. We picked daisies from alleyway gardens as we dreamed about the time when it would be our turn to have the fancy dress and dance the night away at prom.
Somehow as a curly brown-haired girl I envisioned myself in a pale blue backless dress with long blond hair flowing to my waist and my date was one of the dreamboat guys from The Mystery Date game. Hey, if you're going to dream, dream big!
As a girl in the 70s all I had to do was hope somebody would ask me to be their prom date. I am happy to not be a current-day teenage boy, it’s not enough to simply ask a girl to go to the dance. You need to come up with a clever way to ask, and enlist a friend to record the promposal.
My prom nights were less extravagant in other ways, too. Make-up consisted of a swipe of mascara, some blue eyeshadow, pale pink Yardley’s Pot ‘O Gloss, and a spritz of Jean Nate’. The brown curly hair required nothing but shampoo as it had not turned into the long blonde tresses of my childhood dream.
When the time came for me to attend prom the fashions had drastically changed. The ballgowns I had played in as a child had been replaced by floral, gauzy cotton and lace. I ended up in a blue dress I adored and wore to a prom and a ball with complete dreamboats for dates.
Anne VandeMoortel is a Moline school nurse, blogger, grandmother of five, Prader-Willi mother, serial hobbyist, and collector of people and their stories.