At prom time, a call to get back to basics

She was every high school kid’s dream. I was the kid who was scared to death of girls. Not much has changed in that regard.

The dance was coming up and since we hit it off, I thought I’d ask her to go. There was just one problem: I was the kid who was scared to death of girls — or rejection, I guess. Same thing.

She worked at the soda fountain at the local pharmacy, a fact which reveals that this was 1971.

I would pretend to stop in as I had a craving for a hot fudge sundae, an assertion that made no sense since I lived on the other side of town. My plan: While casually eating the sundae, work up the courage to overcome the fear of likely rejection.

Three hot fudge sundaes later I blurted, “So, would you like to go to the dance?”

“Yes,” she said.

“No,” I replied, “I mean with me?”

Apparently, a kid’s fear of rejection is from a bygone era.

Invitations to the prom, like wedding proposals, are now much more spectacular.

The Washington Post reports today that a recent study from a credit card company revealed that the average prom costs $919 a couple, with $324 going toward the “promposal.”

Even in today’s dollars, a kid could buy a lot of hot fudge sundaes for $324.

Petula Dvorak, the Post columnist, says it’s gone too far. She calls it part of the “look at me generation.”

The drama geeks act out elaborate skits. The choir kids sing. The tennis players spelled out the question by shoving tennis balls in the fence.

Maybe this is actually great relationship training, ensuring that young men put a lot more thought into asking. Others wonder if it isn’t a ploy for extorting a lot more intimacy than was originally planned on the big night.

In the end, success isn’t really measured by a yes. (”Sometimes, the girl will say yes publicly, but tell him no later when no one else is around,” one 17-year-old told me.) Or how much fun they had at prom. Or how thoughtful the promposal was.

“You have to get it on YouTube.

Sometimes the promposal works. Sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes it doesn’t while it does (warning: Obscenities).

In Maryland, one student went to great lengths to persuade the staff at a Planet Hollywood in Florida during the senior trip to broadcast his question over the restaurant’s sound system, Dvorak writes.

“He didn’t do his research, and turned out she had a boyfriend,” Dwayne Jones, principal at Laurel High School in Maryland, said. “So that’s what I always tell these kids now. Due diligence. Do your research before you put yourself out there like that.”

Or just don’t put yourself out there at all. Because rejection is hard. You should at least get a sundae out of the deal.