Pretty in Prom

Do you remember this scene from Pretty in Pink?

Andie (Molly Ringwald): Did you say you went to your prom?

Iona (Annie Potts):  Yeah, sure.

Andie:  Was it terrible?

Iona:  It was the worst.

Andie:  (babbling) But it’s supposed to be, but you have to go, right? You don’t have to. I mean, it’s not a requirement.

Iona:  A girlfriend of mine didn’t go to hers. Once in a while she gets a terrible feeling, like something is missing. She checks her purse and her keys, she counts her kids, she goes crazy. And then she realizes that…nothing is missing. She decided it was a side effect from skipping the prom.

(NOTE: That may not be the exact dialogue, but it’s close enough.)

I worship John Hughes, but Pretty in Pink is probably my least favorite of his classic 80’s Gen-X films.  Even though Jon Cryer as Duckie is just freaking amazing, the overall effect of that movie left me cold.  That said, 25 years after seeing it in the movie theater, this brief little scene about the side effect from skipping the prom occasionally haunts me.  Why?  Because I skipped my senior prom.

Now, don’t get the wrong idea.  My prom night was fabulous!  I would not trade that night for all the pink dresses on the planet.  A group of my friends who were either single (me) or entirely disinterested in the whole prom thing went out to dinner then ran wild the rest of the night doing all the things the PSA spots warn kids NOT to do on prom night.  Luckily, no police records were obtained nor permanent damage inflicted.

Wishing I had opted to go to prom my senior year (stag, of course) instead of skipping it is a lot like wishing I could be a 5’9 redhead with green eyes…it defies my basic chemistry.  Still, occasionally I do get little twinge that feels a bit like regret.

This past Saturday was prom night for many of the local high schools here in northern Georgia.  While window shopping in downtown Gainesville, I spotted three of the most gorgeous creatures I’ve ever seen posing for pictures on the town square. It was like watching a living kaleidoscope of ultramarine, celadon, coral and crystal.  These girls had the hair, the makeup, the jewelry and the gowns to walk the red carpet.  Seriously, they looked 1000 times better than Cate Blanchett in that lumpy lavender Givenchy gown at this year’s Academy Awards.

I would love to be able to show you a picture to prove it, but I decided it was just too darn creepy (and possibly even illegal) to snap covert photos of prom girls (who may not even be 18-years-old yet) in order to post them on my blog.  So you’ll just have to trust me.  Those girls were a living, breathing work of art.

As I was watching the scene on the square, I happened to catch my own reflection in a store window.  Zoinks!  Is it really that easy to zap myself right back into my high school inferiority complex?  Yes, it really is. And maybe that’s another reason why I love YA literature so much…I still have such a solid, sometimes painful, relationship with my inner teenager.

Laurie Halse Anderson is one of my top 5 absolute favorite YA authors (and she’s a warm, lovely person if you have the opportunity to meet her on one of her book tours).  I’ve loved every book of hers that I’ve read (even the picture book about Thanksgiving).  She’s best known for historical thrillers &/or gritty, difficult subject matter (if you have not read Speak or Wintergirls, get thyself to a bookstore or your eBook seller of choice and remedy this ridiculous situation immediately), so I was surprised when I discovered a few years back that she published a very light, humorous contemporary novel entitled Prom in 2006.

The only reason I read this book is because it had her name on the cover.  To say I didn’t have very high hopes for this book would be an understatement.  And I was very pleasantly surprised!  In my opinion, this book wins in every way that Pretty in Pink failed.  If you are a Pretty in Pink fan, please don’t be insulted.  Continue to enjoy Duckie’s antics in perfect happiness.

Whether you are anti-prom, prom phobic or just plain mystified by the whole prom hysteria thing, I think this book takes the subject and shakes it up in all the right ways.


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