that time of year again when dads of daughters all over the country
are experiencing severe headaches, watery eyes, shortness of breath
and even hives. No, these symptoms are not from seasonal allergies,
but from a traumatic phenomenon known as "prom season."
With two daughters in college and one in high school, I've been a
chronic victim of prom season for several years now, and I'm left
with the scars of several exorbitantly-priced sequined gowns that
were worn exactly once.
My youngest daughter recently experienced her first "prom." She attends
a private Christian school where "prom" is called "banquet," which
is basically the same as a regular prom-only with Jesus, a dinner
Yes, at "banquet," parents serve as a source of embarrassment and
irritation to their children throughout the evening, whereas at regular
prom, after an endless and torturous barrage of photographs in the
back yard, parents are left behind praying and imagining the worst
(that their children might behave like the parents once did).
My daughter's first big step in the process of banquet was deciding
whether even to attendconsidering her sometimes extreme shyness.
Luckily, her school administered some formal dancing lessons for the
students to break the ice a bit and demonstrate to her that all members
of the male species might not be blundering idiots, after all. (My
wife has assured her that even though girls mature faster than boys,
most boys eventually catch upat around age 50, or so.)
The utilitarian preparations for banquet began several weeks before
the actual event when my wife took my daughter and about a month's
salary shopping for a dress, matching shoes, cosmetics, jewelry and
probably some other things I'm glad I don't know about.
My role was to receive and thoughtfully respond to about 500 text
messages with photos of my daughter in an array of gowns that all
looked the same. Most of my responses read something like this:
"That one looks good. It's red. How much is it?"
But that's not all. A few days later, my wife somehow tricked me into
running by Target for something called "petals." She said they'd be
near the bras, and they would look like "stickers." I managed to find
the "petals" and, surprisingly, get out of the store without being
arrested. I'm still having nightmares about it.
Once we had the outfit (instead of the new propane grill I wanted),
it was time to drop a couple of C-notes on a manicure and pedicuresince
formal dresses aren't usually accessorized with mittens and tube socks
these days. When I took my daughter and her friend into the salon
for the procedure, the host asked me if I'd like to have my nails
done while I waited. I politely declined, explaining that I'd had
mine done about 10 years agoso I was still good.
I'm happy to say that the night of banquet was magical for all of
us. My shy, beautiful baby daughter blossomed among her friends and
classmates, and she danced with several gracious young men whom I
didn't even have to threaten beforehand. I guess prom season might
not be as bad as I thought.
Why are my eyes still watering?