Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Formal Request, Casually Speaking

From today's Times and News-Star

Sometimes I feel like actor Will Ferrell as disheveled race car driver Ricky Bobby, a bit out of my mind, insane even, running in my Fruit of the Looms and racing helmet down an asphalt track screaming, “Help me Oprah! Help me Tom Cruuuuuise!”

Sometimes in the Parent-of-a-Teen League, you just can’t win. “Sometimes” here means “just about all of the time.”

Here is the deal: there are too many formal dances or “special occasions” in today’s high school world. This means not only that it costs the “parentals” an official Ton of Dough, but also that teens can grow to take for granted, most naturally, what was once A Big Deal, i.e., the high school formals.

Last week at our school we had the Pepette Formal. This is when the girls who are members of the pep organizations for athletic events ask the guys to go to a formal dance. The invite goes something like this:

Girl: “My folks will spend $200 on my dress and shoes and hair and all if you will spend at least half that much to get your sportcoat pressed and buy me a wrist corsage.”
Boy: “Will there be food?”
Girl: “Yes.”
Boy: “Since it won’t cost me a dime, let’s do this thing!”

This is better than free tickets to a Rangers game.

The schedule for the Pepette Formal was this:

All the kids dressed up and, in groups of two couples to four or five couples, went to a Designated Parent’s house. The parents of the couples brought food. The kids ate, goofed around (in the Other Room, not with the parents, of course), then went to the dance around 9. That ended about midnight. (Some people actually danced at the dance.) Then they went back to the DP’s house for a movie or to play video games, then came home by 2ish.

Two hundred bucks, mind you. And the prom is next month. And homecoming was in the fall.


Granted, I am just the stepdad of a 15-year-old beauty. That’s it. Stepdad is even lower on the rung than an actual dad of a teenaged girl, if it is possible to be lower. Because basically, us guys are just taking up space at this point of a teen girl’s life.

Still, I am entitled to an opinion. (Actually, I’m not!) But if I were allowed to have an opinion, it would be this:

Girls buy two T-shirts they’ve had printed that say Pepette Formal or whatever, like the sororities do at college. These are cherished and worn forever. Guys would love them as well; guys love T-shirts. Option: guys can either buy their own T-shirt or buy the girl flowers: jump ball.

Dance from 6 until 9. In the T-shirts and jeans. Take pictures at the dance. At 9, you go back to the DP’s house. The pressure if already off! Watch an entire movie, eat, play video games until your hands bleed, talk about what you’ll wear to the prom. Keep in mind that all teens are now accounted for, and it’s not even 9:30!

You save money, worry, and needless running hither and yon. You gain FUN, safety, a T-shirt, and the instillation of common sense into a teen that there will be plenty of time for formals later. (We call them weddings and funerals and banquets.) The whole reason for being a teen is NOT to have to go to formals.

This is my informal recommendation to the American people. Feel free to distribute as you wish.