Thursday, September 29, 2011

The Homecoming Ask

See you all at the Homecoming Parade on Friday!
Ric Dressen @EdinaSuper
Back to school means shopping for school supplies, fall sports, clubs, music lessons, early wake-ups, full calendars. . . and for the high school boys, finding a date for the formal homecoming dance. For the sophomores, it doesn’t seem quite fair. They’ve barely learned to navigate their way around the building before the pressure to find a date and form a group with friends begins.  

The homecoming dance is the first dance of the school year. This is followed by Sadie’s in early December ( girls askthemed costumes); Sweethearts in February (girls askformal); and in May, Prom for the Seniors (guys askformal). Considering that many adults aren’t skilled at planning social events, the process can be daunting. There is finding a date, forming a group, buying the tickets, finding a photo location, choosing a restaurant, arranging transportation, and a family kind enough to host the after-party.  Hint: tenth grade boys usually need a mom to help the first time around.  

There is shopping for a suit—one that might fit for at least a year.  For the girls, the dress, accessories, hair and make-up must be just right. The boy’s shirt and tie are usually coordinated to the girl’s dress.  If your child goes to all the dances, assuming Prom once, this is a process that will happen ten times. I think of friends with five Edina graduates. . . that would have been 50 dances! You really don’t want to know the price tag.

I hear that the asking sometimes starts in August. Not a simple ask, a creative ask. One worth re-telling. Hundreds of ideas abound. Common ones include balloons, candy, flowers or hidden messages. I’ve heard of a bedroom covered in post-it-notes, an inflatable alligator in the pool for a swimmer, scavenger hunts and a test that included the ask as the last question. Our son once wrote a very official-looking letter from the school about students with driving violations in the parking lot, which was actually a dance invitation. The deed often includes an accomplice—even a teacher. It’s all in good fun, but only one small part of the dance drama. Sometimes the ask has a glitch. Who started this tradition anyway?

This past spring in Shelton, Connecticut, a senior at a private school who taped twelve-inch-high letters  on the outside of his school—creating a sign asking his date to Prom—became an international news story. The school’s headmaster initially said that the senior was banned from the Prom. After the news hit the internet, over 200,000 supporters on Facebook and Twitter claimed that the punishment was too harsh. He was even interviewed on the TODAY show. Ultimately, James Tate was allowed to go to his Prom. 

Is there a lesson from the highly-publicized Connecticut situation?  Maybe to keep it simple, non-disruptive, and always ask permission involving property that isn’t your own. I’m pleased to report that our family never had to hire a sky-writer. I wonder if a young man in 2011 might consider the most courageous ask of all—face to face? That would be a tale worth repeating.

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