CAPTION:  Since I couldn’t find my own prom pictures, this is one I grabbed off the internet of a prom from a movie scene, just for visual effect:)

I was writing on the Amish Cook site today about one of my first visits to an Amish settlement.  I remember it well, it was to the town of Nova, Ohio and I was doing a rather thorough investigative journalism piece.   At one point during my morning full of interviews I noticed the time and told my hosts that I needed to speed things up.  They didn’t know how old I was, I think they thought I was a 22-year-old journalist fresh out of college.

“Sure, you have some more interviews to make it to?”  the woman asked, as she drove me around the community.
“Uh…I  just need to make sure I’m home in time…prom is tonight,” I said, as I scribbled notes nonchalantly in my reporter’s notebook.   Ah, the life of a 17-year-old aspiring journalist.   By the following year I had landed an internship at my local newspaper, The Middletown Journal.   It was late spring and I was excited about attending my graduation. But when the reporter assigned to the job didn’t show up, I ran to my car, pulled out my reporter’s notebook and did double duty: covered the graduation and graduated.   Ah, but back to prom….

As sure as the smell of fresh-cut grass, the bustle of garage sales, and colorful blooming daisies, there’s another spring sight you’ll see soon.  Go out for dinner on any weekend over the next month and you’ll see them: tuxedoed teenage boys and pink and poofy-dress-clad girls, out for one of their first adult events.  Each year they look younger.  Makes me feel better to place them blame on them and not on me getting older. Those are the smart kids: there’s safety in a group. I remember on my prom night, it was just my date and I at the table of a restaurant in Miamisburg, Ohio and I felt like we were in a Petri dish under a microscope.

Prom is short for  promenade,a derivative of of the French word promener (to take a walk). But in my mind prom is short for promise.  It’s the promise that everyone possesses at that age, a promise you may go on to keep or break.  Sometimes one doesn’t know for years what has become of their promise or even what it was.  That’s what the rest of your life is for: to discover your promise.

Of course there always has to be a dash of drama to anything I do. On prom night I locked my car keys in my car (me and keys, now THAT is a post for another day).  A police officer on duty that night offered to drive me home to pick up a spare key.  It was a nice gesture, a fine idea, since we only lived a few minutes away.  But you can imagination the heart-stopping horror of my parents when they see a police cruiser pull up to the front of their house.

I’m not sure what my promise was, or what it is… I’m still a work in progress.  I sometimes admire the 30-year-olds who have it all figured out, everything in order, the rest of their life a calm cruise control on freeway that eventually leads us all to the same place.  But other times I’m grateful my journey has been unconventional, never knowing what is around the next corner or over the next hill.

So what about you.  Did you go to prom in a group?  Any key-locking horror stories to share?  What does it all mean? Has prom become an overpriced charade or is there still meaning in it?