“You can get married as many times as you want. You only get one shot at your junior prom.”
-- Quinn Fabray (Dianna Agron) on “Glee”
One of the challenges of writing on assignment is that those assignments often consist of topics that, if left to my own devices, I'd never choose to write about.
An example of that arrived in my Inbox a couple of weeks ago, when Kim Prince, my indefatigable editor at CBS Los Angeles, emailed me this plea:
"Can you do a prom post? You have the kid who's closest in age to that!"
Well, uh... that's true. But my Freshman daughter claims she doesn't even know anyone who attended her school's prom this year.
And as I pointed out to Kim, I didn't even go to my own prom, which was held at the local brewery.
More accurately, it was at the San Fernando Valley location of Busch Gardens, which was torn down in the 1980's to allow for expansion of Anheuser-Busch's Van Nuys facility.
I was a geek in high school who spent the evening of my senior prom working a lonely night shift on my part time job as a clerk in a five and dime store (remember those? No? It was like a teeny, tiny, Target.)
My best friend and her date made a point of coming down to the store to visit me and show off their beautiful prom clothes. I believe he ended up ditching her at the dance so he could make out with some other girl who was there. So it was not a good night for either of us.
The bottom line is that the only thing I know about the grand American high school tradition of Prom is what I've seen in movies and television... and the usual focus of a CBS Los Angeles post is in the form of a "Five Best" article. As I related to Kim, how do I do that when all I have to go by is the word, "prom"?
Kim was just as perplexed. She did jump on the recollection of my own prom with the idea of unique locations, wondering if there are any cool L.A. prom traditions.
Damned if I knew... but the gauntlet had been thrown. I took the challenge, and the post is now live... minus the following introduction (which was too long for CBS -- but I tend to overwrite stuff, with the thought that it's easier to cut than add):
Spring prom season is winding to an end, and one thing is certain: Prom has changed since “Back to the Future,” when Marty McFly’s parents fell in love at the “Under the Sea” dance.
And that makes 21st Century proms a lot more expensive. According to a recent survey from Visa, Inc., the average prom expenditure in Western states (for both boys and girls) is $1,073.
Some of that money goes for the formal dress, and it’s de rigueur these days to hire a limo (or pool resources for a party bus). Add in flowers, hair styling and makeup, a nice meal before the dance, and the actual event tickets, and it’s easy to see how quickly costs can get out of hand.
The idea of a limo might seem extravagant, but many parents think of it as a safety measure. Of course, no one condones underage drinking, and before students can purchase tickets at most schools, they are required to sign prom contracts that specify all the rules: from drinking to dress codes to age limits for their dates.