"Prom" vs. "Ball" (or: Why not the prom?)
Okay, here comes my inner Prude. I've learned to embrace her. Prude is my friend and moral helper. Dear Reader, meet "Prudie".
Maestro made a comment on the way to church this morning that really got me thinking. His comment revolved around my insistence in using more specific words for various things and events in life: "prom" vs. a "Ball" (in this case military); "Dating" vs. "Courtship"; "Young lady/man" vs. "Teen", etc. Since I have talked with my very word-specific husband for hour upon hour, I suppose a bit of his... obsession... has rubbed off on me!
"What's the difference?!" says a very exasperated Maestro.
|With my best friends in high school|
Though the differences in such words may seem subtle, they are there - and our societal tendency to ignore "the difference" is leading our youth off to the Pied Piper's Mountain (or Pleasure Island in the movie Pinnochio, if you like.) in which things appear to be inconsequential, but the future may hold unforeseen problems as a result. For my own children as well as those who might stumble across my little corner of the Internet, I'll illustrate the differences over the course of a few blog posts - starting with Proms and Balls (and other such black-tie affairs.)
This website - RandomHistory.com - gives an excellent overview of the origin of high school proms, from the word "Promenade". In short, the high school prom was a middle-class version of the upper crust Debutante Ball. As proms became more accepted as an annual event, the young ladies would be dressed in their finest formal dresses, and perhaps her first pair of high heels. Her escort would be a young man of good moral image (and hopefully truly good moral standing as well!) and would dress in his best suit or tuxedo.
He would escort her to the front of the hall or church, then to her chair for dinner. Debutante Balls and Proms were a way for young men and women to learn how to properly behave in polite society. The young man was often a cousin, male relative or older brother, someone bound by blood, love and duty to protect her honor.
His willingness to escort the young lady said, "Here is my lovely sister/cousin, today a young woman and ready to become part of adult society. Take good care of her. I am here to help guide and protect her."
There was ceremony involved; there was formality; there was meaning and elegance. The closest adult equivalent that I've experienced is a military ball or a similar black-tie affair. Men and ladies dressed to the nines to attend a dance that begins with a ceremony. I've been to many such balls.
|With my Military Guy at the 2010 Ball|
But senior and junior prom night? I'm afraid (in my opinion), any such positive comparison ends at the girl and boy dress up and go out to dinner. The formal aspect is often missing. Girls playing dress up mill around, everyone trying to be adults and sophisticated, when really no one has shown them how. At the same time, adult chaperones circle the floor, shark the parking lots or man the entrances, looking for teens who have left the tedium of a finely-decroated, but otherwise dull ballroom, in search of the excitement brought on by hormones, drugs or alcohol.
Dear Maestro. Dear Reader of my little-noticed blog:
Is there a difference? Is a prom something to be lauded and remembered as one of the best moments of ones life? Or is it simply an expensive box to check off on the to-do list of life?
Further: Would it be worthwhile to try to return some of the earlier ceremonies and formality to our prom nights?
I look forward to your thoughts - and your own memories of such occasions!