Friday, March 21, 2014

Sophomore Semi-Formal

When you grow up in New York City, you're exposed to a much bigger world than your peers in the suburbs. Diversity and show business and street crime and nightlife. 

On the flip side, you miss out on a lot of the typical teen rituals. Like football games, cheerleaders, malls and "parking." 

And proms.

'Never had one. 'Never missed it. But, now I get to live vicariously.

Tonight, my daughter and her classmates are having a pre-prom of sorts, the Sophomore Semi-Formal.

Organized (as so much is) by the always overachieving class officers, the event will take place at a small hotel in Salem, one town over. There will be a buffet dinner and dancing. There are assigned seats. Everyone has to be at the high school by 6:15 sharp to board two buses that will make two trips apiece. Students will return to the school (by bus, again) at 10:30. They will not — I repeat, not — be permitted to attend if they arrive by any means other than the official buses. No rides from parents, no horse-drawn buggies, no bikes, no pedicabs. No way, no how.

(An aside here: growing up in NYC was different, for sure. But, growing up in the groovy 1970s, even more so. Where did all these rules come from? Sheesh! For heaven's sake, my daughter is in a plain old public high school. Not juvie.)

These kids have had a lot on their plates for the past few months: schoolwork, the polar vortex, Justin Bieber's issues with the law. But, Sophomore Semi-Formal (as with "Prom," the "the" is unnecessary) has risen to the top in terms of attention paid. Even our daughter, who is not and never will be anyone's girly-girl, has been lured into the madness.

The biggest issue, of course, is ... the dress. It isn't simply a matter of choosing one. The stakes are much higher. You need to choose one that no one else has chosen. Or ... sacré bleu! Or, more appropriately, given the demographic we're discussing ... OMG!!!!!!!!!!!

There are only a couple of stores in our town that might have dresses appropriate for this shindig. The nearest mall, about 20 minutes away, has maybe a dozen more. There are about 125 girls in the sophomore class. The chance of dress duplicates is likely and ... well ... it's just too, too horrifying.

Thank goodness for social media! An intrepid young sophomore created a Facebook page where girls can post pictures of their dresses. Some are catalogue shots on professional models. Most are dressing room selfies. The funniest are the ones depicting a pretty girl in a gorgeous dress on top and athletic socks underneath.

My daughter was fortunate. Not only is her mother preternaturally understanding (and quite handsome for her age), but we were spending February break 1,400 miles away in New Orleans. Shopping is always a fun vacation activity. We would make it our quest to find the dress.

First, we looked in all the boutiques of the French Quarter. Most dresses weren't worth trying on, and the first few that were turned out to be "Meh," in the words of my offspring. We finally found one that I liked a lot and she, grudgingly, took a selfie. Not quite committed yet, she sent it to just a select group of buds. The response was positive. Then, my daughter decided that the gold braiding on the bodice of the dress looked like "a uterus." (Say what?!?) And, it was no longer in the consideration set.

We found another dress shop on the corner of Iberville and Dauphine. There, my daughter found something: a cute dress, sleeveless with a short, flaired skirt, made out of turquoise lace over a nude slip. A quick digital convo with her gal pals, a quick credit card transaction, and — Voila! — the dress was hers.

Success. So, one might assume we were done. No, no, no. The next day, we ventured uptown to Magazine Street. There, amongst the galleries and bistros, we found another store with another dress. This was a different look. It was strapless, black and metallic on top with a gauzy "high-low" skirt. It was, happily, marked down about 50%. We decided to use our savings to take it to a local tailor and have the dress hemmed into a "high-high." The "high-low" is, after all, so last month.

Two dress-success. So, again, one might assume we were done. No, no, no, no. Back home, my daughter found yet another dress, this time online. I agreed because (a) it really was quite a bargain, (b) we're going to London in June for a big bat mitzvah and there will be multiple dressy events, and (c) as per usual, I was distracted when she asked. With Sophomore Semi looming, we ordered it in two sizes, planning to return whichever didn't fit.

The third (and final, thank you very much) dress arrived and was deemed "Perfect!" Her BFF came over and agreed with great enthusiasm. In fact, the enthusiasm was so great that I ended up giving her the other, matching dress. (It saved me the return postage and a trip to the post office.) 

I laughed and said, in my most Shakespearean voice "On pain of death, just DON'T wear it to Semi!"

And, here's the catch. The girls have now decided that wearing the same dress will actually be hysterically funny, so they are. 

After all that? I can only take their lead and shrug. Whatever.

But, I can't wait to see the selfies.

If you enjoyed this post, I invite you to order a copy of my new book Lovin' the Alien at   

No comments:

Post a Comment