It’s a week until prom, and I can’t wait … for it to be over. Joseffa isn’t going; she didn’t get asked, chose not to ask anybody and decided not to go alone. Instead she’ll be volunteering with Jamie at Pacer Center’s benefit that night, hobnobbing with the well-to-do and listening to Earth, Wind & Fire perform. She got a new dress for the occasion and is looking forward to it. But I know that doesn’t really dull the pain of feeling left out. She is the ONLY ONE not going; I’m sure that’s not true but I’m also sure it feels that way to her.

Way back when, at Divine Savior Holy Angels High School, we had Junior Prom. I had started dating Mark that summer. We worked together at Burger Chef, and our first date was to see “Star Wars” — the first one. Honestly, I said yes when he asked me out more because I wanted to see the movie than date him. He was very nice — but not so good looking. He went to the public school in the area and was a year older than me.

He drove a bright green VW Rabbit, and I can’t remember if I thought that was a mark on the plus side or minus. I was so excited after seeing the movie, wanting to talk about Luke Skywalker, Han Solo and R2D2; he seemed rather bored by it all. Later he confessed that he had already seen the movie three times before seeing it with me.

Mark and me at my parents' house

We continued going out and had fun together. So when prom time came, I asked him to go. We went. That’s about all I remember about it! After digging out the couple of photos I have of the night, I remember getting the dress, white with pastel flowers, at JCPenney’s warehouse store, the home of catalog returns and overstock items. But I loved it. We took pictures in our living room. After prom, I’m pretty sure we just went home. We may or may not have kissed for a while in the car.

Drew and Alisa

I’ve always told the kids that prom is a “once-in-a-lifetime” thing. That makes it more special. Drew went his senior year with his girlfriend at the time, Alisa. They looked great and seemed to have fun. After prom, they came here and I made them a special late-night fondue dinner. They spent a long time at the table talking with the one couple and single girl they went with. I asked Drew about it recently, and he has fond memories of the night.

Griffin also went his senior year. He asked a beautiful girl, Tawny, who had had a long-time crush on him. They made a lovely couple, and Griff had a great time at the dance. The after-prom party was at some girl’s house. Griffin said he would have rather just come home way earlier than he did (which was around 7 a.m., I think).

Griffin and Tawny

Will Joseffa go senior year? I hope so. It’s one of life’s passages. But part of me can’t help but feel that the whole thing has gotten out of hand. Buy a $300 dress, buy $120 tickets, rent a limo, rent a tux, get flowers, get pedicure, get hair done, stay out all night… it’s all too much. (No wonder weddings have gotten over-the-top! They have to outdo prom night!)

The practical Judy wonders what would happen if next year some brave kid proposed doing away with the traditions. Let’s still have a dance, but make it a “wear something out of your closet” occasion. Carpool. Carry lilacs, tulips or even dandelions. Do each other’s hair and nails. Then put all the money we would have spent on prom toward replacing the textbooks that are outdated and falling apart, or donate the money to the food shelf so many Cooper families likely use, or …. There are so many worthy causes. Some band might sign on to play at such an event. Some businesses might even donate food. Now THAT would be a night you’d remember.

Drew's post-prom dinner at our house.