Monday, October 24, 2011

Forms are Formally a Formality

For those of you following the No Freakin' at the Formal story, you will remember the permission slip that required five signatures to attend the dance. Tonight during dinner, I remembered to ask my son if anyone was "grinding or freaking." He gave that look. The look of pity for the poor, pathetic clueless mother. Yes, he informed me, at least half of the kids danced that way, of course. And the adults did nothing about it.

"What?" I asked, truly surprised after the incredibly detailed and legal form we had to sign promising our children would not so much as think about any sexual moves for the entire night. I was expecting if any of the kids even touched each other they would spend the night in jail, followed by rehab in a residential facility made famous by Tiger Woods.

"Mom," my middle son in 8th grade piped up, "that form is just to make the parents feel secure."

Well how did he know that and I didn't? It's not going to work on me again!


The big day was here. The formal.

But first, my son had early morning cross country practice. After running eight miles, he is home throwing on his soccer uniform and trying to grab something to eat.

"I ordered the corsage for you. But next time you need to do it."
"Mom, I don't even know what a corsage is!"
"It's a . . . it's a . . . flower bracelet."
"Oh. One of those things."

As we depart toward the district cup soccer tournament, my husband is already on his way with our other two boys to a baseball tournament. The florist is not anywhere near where my husband is going. I have to pick up the corsage. It is hours before the dance, it is a hot day, and that corsage is going to have to sit in my car all day long. Crap.

An hour later I feel like I am an organ courier. The orchid corsage is safely on ice in the backseat of my car. A soccer game is played and lost. A baseball game is lost. The temperature soars. Another baseball game is won. Much food is consumed. After the soccer game we run to buy a tie and pick up the suit pants which had to be altered for a slimmer physique. Yet all the while that orchid is safely chilling in my car.

We convene at home to get ready for the pre-party, an extravagance of parental paparazzi before the dance starts. When we get there, all the boys stand awkwardly around holding their corsages, waiting for all the girls to be ready to receive them. There is some happy confusion as the traditional flowers are exchanged between teenagers that have just learned what corsages and boutonnières are, but not how to apply them to the other person.

My son's boutonni√®re is pinned on by his date's father, as she looks on.
Oh that's how you pin on a boutonniere!

My son gives her the corsage. The parents maneuver around taking lots of photos. There is a mother/daughter group shot but none of us Boy Moms wanted to risk the extreme embarrassment of our sons to take a mother/son photo. I thought about it, then decided to take another sip of my wine and enjoy the scene. I enjoyed it even more after chatting with one mother who was just exhausted. After the drama this mother endured with her daughter's hair, makeup, dress, manicure, shoes, and purse, she could barely stand up.
Ready for the dance!
I'm absolutely certain there is less drama for moms of boys. We also hear less about the details of the evening. When my son got home, he was understandably absolutely exhausted. The only comment he could muster up for me before he collapsed was, "They only played ONE slow song."

Sunday, October 9, 2011

No Freakin' At the Formal!

It's another milestone in our all-boy household. My oldest son, a freshman at an all-boys high school, has been invited to a formal dance at an all-girls school.

My first reaction was to text my mom and ask her if she would make my son's suit. It was a joke, a pointed one, as she made every dress I wore to a formal. No dresses to make in my house. Her response was, "And so it starts. Without all the drama."

Yes, there was a fair amount of drama around formal dances in my house growing up. With three girls, how could it be any other way? Looking back, I realize that the researching, dreaming, and designing of each dress, picking out fabrics, and watching the dress come to life at my mom's sewing machine was a lot more memorable than the dance itself. I was so proud to wear my custom-made beautiful creations. My dates were little more than accessories to my outfits. Well, I certainly didn't think that at the time, but in hindsight I realize it was true.

My son, in a suit, will be an accessory for his date at this dance. And he knows it. Therefore, there is no drama.

That is where any similarity to my high school formal dance experience and modern times ends.

In my day, my custom-made dress was only for my family and maybe a friend or two to see before it premiered at the dance. A color hint was given to the date so he could provide an appropriate corsage.
My first formal. I loved my dress. Please no comments about the mullet hairstyle, it was the early 80s.

Today, a photo of a model wearing the dress a girl has purchased or is going to purchase is posted on Facebook for all to see. This gives the date an idea of exactly what she will look like. He can coordinate his tie and any flowers. Easy. No drama. Apparently this also serves to warn other girls that the dress is taken, a way to stake a claim on the desired dress. Creates lots of drama for the girls.
The posting of the dress, visible to all friends of both kids. Names hidden to protect the innocent. We can note from this post that a wrist corsage is the way to go, much like my first formal in the picture above.
In my day, the boy purchased tickets for the dance at school and that was the only necessary exchange needed to attend.

Today, HOLY COW. You will not believe what you have to do.

I was given a two page permission slip that requires FIVE signatures and contains a medical treatment permission, emergency information, a schedule for the evening, when they must arrive and how, when the students may and may not leave, the policy on dress code, alcohol, drugs, smoking, valuables, and page references to various other policies in the student handbook. This form was signed by five school officials, and requires that a business card from the boy's school's Dean be stapled to the top. This must all be completed and turned in two weeks before the dance.

Now remember, I am filling all this out as the mom of the boy who is the human accessory for the dance. I'm surprised that there is no essay requirement. If they could just add that, we could photocopy it and send it off as his college application.

My very favorite part of this permission slip is the section on dancing.
"All dance styles must comply with standards of modesty and safety. Inappropriate dancing includes, but is not limited to, the following: slam dancing, moshing, any dancing that has sexual innuendo such as freaking or booty dancing ("sandwich", crotch to crotch or butt to crotch) (See full Diocesan Dance Policy on Page 25-26 of Student Handbook). Also, shoes must be worn at all times."

If this is an excerpt, I'd love to see the full-length version of the dance policy in the handbook.

Schools across the country are struggling with the modern styles of dancing (see this article). One person I know who happens to work at the school hosting this dance says parents should be required to chaperone these dances to get a good idea of what is going on. They would be shocked.

This principal had a more creative solution than a permission slip/contract to get rid of over-sexualized dancing. I'm not going to imbed a video on what grinding is. If you don't know, get out from under your rock and look it up on YouTube. You might be shocked.

Before you get to the dancing, however, you have to eat dinner. In my day, before the formal, my date and I went out for a fancy and elegant dinner. For my first formal, he took me to the Velvet Turtle,  a now extinct restaurant in San Jose. I was a sophomore, going with a Junior from a different school to his Prom. He ordered escargot. I can't remember what I ordered but it was not escargot. I do remember that while attempting to eat the snails, he accidentally shot one about 20 feet across the dining room. I thought it was hysterical but judging by his blush he was pretty embarrassed.

Today, my son is invited to attend a catered dinner at the home of the girl he is escorting to the dance. She and six other girls, and their dates, AND their parents, are invited to have dinner and take pictures before the dance. The parents will be offered a glass of wine, and I suspect the parents of girls will drink more than the parents of the boys. I will have to watch and see if I'm right.

We have tried to educate our son on how to be a good accessory, including the slightly more advanced role of accessory-to-the-hostess, at this pre-party. I think as long as he avoids any booty dancing he will do fine, as my mom says, "without all the drama."