When I was a senior in high school, I got asked to prom by this new guy at my school named Ernst. Ernst was from South Africa, and all the guys loved him because he was super weird, didn't give a shit, and made remarks in chemistry that were so smart they sounded funny to the rest of us.
The girls just thought he was super weird.
I'd heard rumors Ernst was going to ask me to the dance so I wasn't all that surprised when he made his move one day after school. I was also expecting it to be uncomfortable.
"Hey Courtney, do you have a date to prom yet?" Ernst asked me with as much enthusiasm as a cat on a couch.
"No," I replied. "Not yet."
"Fine, I'll take you," he said.
And then he walked off.
That was it. I could see all the guys in my class watching and cheering off in the distance. The entire week afterwards I was getting high-fives and pats on the back, as if my decision had gotten our football team into the playoffs.
"You're so lucky, Court!" The boys would say. "I wish I was going to prom with Ernst!"
Ernst was a fine date, and honestly, he got right to the point and I appreciated it. Back in the day, the only thing people cared about with prom was having someone to go with, and color-coordinating outfits. Things have changed in recent years though; I'm routinely hearing about this ritual called a "promposal." It's like a marriage proposal, but with even less of a commitment.
These days, to ask someone to prom, kids are creating posters, making music videos, sending out balloons, orchestrating flash mobs, even pranking their hopeful dates into accepting an offer to dance with them for half the night before ditching them for someone cuter. According to the Washington Post, the phenomenon of the promposal revolves around the fact that teens want to be famous, and have realized they can do it through social media. Thus, they'll take advantage of any opportunity they can to get attention.
Furthermore, CNN recently looked at intensifying pressure surrounding promposals. It's so bad now that girls are accidentally saying yes to guys they don't like because they are distracted by the fancy ado; then they're stuck. They want a divorce before they've even walked down the aisle.
"Now you have to write a song and put it on YouTube and it's this whole fucking process," Gawker observed about the spectacle. "Man, it's just prom."
Exactly. Either I settled too easily or life is getting way out of hand. If asking someone to prom is this big, imagine how lavish engagements are going to get in the future. Incidentally, this one guy's marriage proposal video just went viral last week after he filmed himself singing a song for his girlfriend over the course of four years in 26 different countries. On the Great Wall of China, with a Masai Tribe in Africa, on a boat sailing through Vietnam, this tech-savvy Romeo shot a video to demonstrate love and commitment to his Juliet, and as a result, he's making things way harder for guys everywhere.
Each and every girl who watches this video is pretty much expecting a proposal of the same stature going forward. One of my friends on Facebook wrote that it "restored her faith in men," meaning book your travel now, fellas.
Of course, I love the video as much as the next girl who never gets taken out to dinner, but I still believe this is getting too extravagant. Do you love someone that much more if they spell your name out in fireworks over the Nile versus popping the question on a walk in the park? Were you really going to say no to the guy who asked you to prom on the phone instead of wearing some dumb t-shirt to biology class?
Ernst didn't even give me a choice, how's that for slick?! And I'll never forget his proposition.
To me, romance is not fancy or expensive, and all these gestures are more conflated than necessary. Romance is mostly just being around when there's a moment to be seized, and it doesn't require a show of attention to be meaningful. It's the "Before Sunrise" movies; it's an afternoon lounging on the porch, debating whether "Mad Men" is actually good. It's popping pimples for each other when they're out of reach (I did that once for a guy on his back and we were never closer!).
It's something from nothing.
All in all, the best promposal I've seen, if you want to call it that, is this guy who took his date to Taco Bell for dinner instead of some fancy restaurant. Actually, he took three dates to Taco Bell all at once, and they look pretty damn happy if you ask me.
Gentlemen, this is the way to get girls.