Prom Fever

Ah, spring time. Men’s Wearhouse looks like any mall store on Black Friday. The tandem of pollen and floral businesses flourishes. Thanks to the former, noses abroad run wild; a cause of the latter, hormones run even wilder. It is Prom open season.

Traditionally, consistent with the theme of la primavera, inhibitions are naturally released as professions of love (or desperation for companionship) are whispered, written, performed or demonstrated in some otherwise generally unacceptable fashion. It’s crazy, perhaps a bit dated and certainly expensive, but it’s fun. Well, it’s supposed to be.

But what if it isn’t the warm breeze or budding flowers that releases those inhibitions? It is purely hearsay for me to accuse the Class of 2015 of anything more than claiming to indulge in alcohol. For all I know I could be completely wrong to think that any of what I hear is true, from either the group of 30 or so people who have at one point indifferently discussed their illegal pastime, or the others who detest it. After all, what more do children want than to feel like adults?  Yet it is all too likely that they are not lying, and are in fact on their way to falling into the stereotype of college freshmen a year early (if they haven’t already). Take note, there are juniors and even sophomores whom I would equally condemn, if I knew them as well as I do my class.

In a vacuum, underage drinking itself is not much of a concern (well, it is, but there are parents for that lecture). What is concerning is that those who claim to participate in alcoholic festivities have more than implied that it is requisite to have fun. They pretentiously shrug off their actions as just a means to a good time, disregarding or completely ignoring the consequences for themselves and those surrounding them.

This attitude is not merely concerning—it’s frightening. Cyclical in nature, just like the biological processes of springtime, are the news stories surrounding prom. Every year it’s the same old story, something along the lines of a group of friends under the influence who suffered a car crash on their way home. One would think that the mere existence of such precedents is enough of a deterrent for even the most edgy, jaded or rebellious teens. But it’s not. As with any other high-risk behavior popular among those our age, the perception is always, “It won’t happen to me.” Their utter fascination with inebriation suffocates their rationality and conscience (not too surprising—it is a drug). 

Prom is a tradition that will intrinsically see its fair share of drinking, drug use and other risky behavior. It’s fallacious to say that West Shore is a good school and we don’t have people who do bad things. Our proportion of deviants is lower than other schools’ most likely, but there is not a complete absence of the typical high school gamut of illicit extracurriculars. Therefore, West Shore’s Prom faces the same imminent threat every other school faces year after year. Yet two attitudes prevail and lead me to feel considerably anxious as the date approaches.

First is the accepted normality of the “getting blitzed is fun and funny” outlook. Why is it not unsettling, why does it not incite sheer paranoia to engage in an explicitly illegal activity with myriad legal alternatives?  Sounds like immaturity. 

Second is the idea that alcohol consumption or drug use is the only means to enjoy a social event. At the root of deviancy is often a perfect storm of circumstances that creates the feeling that it is necessary and therapeutic, or perpetuates a predisposition to a similar feeling. Sounds like an issue for a professional to me. 

No matter the underlying cause, participation in the standard set of risky and mostly illegal activities is a pervasive problem for which awareness has not been raised to any noteworthy level recently. We don’t have continued reminders of what responsible behavior is or what the repercussions are for irresponsible behavior. I have no idea whether or not the Class of 2015, and perhaps the Class of 2016, are anomalies. But I don’t want to see any diminished concern for the overall safety (and legality) of major social events, particularly Prom, just because we’re at West Shore. 

It’s Prom open season. The hunt is on for a date or a good deal on a dress. It’s a battlefield ridden with bouquets of flowers and cheesy love notes. I have one piece of advice for all the cowards and brave soldiers out there, ready to defect or fight. In this battlefield, like any other, you don’t want to be taking shots.