I have a theory.
It’s this. For newspaper readers of a certain age, there is no content quite so compelling, quite so irresistible as decades-old photos of teenagers about to traipse off to their high school proms.
Well, except for stories about heroic dogs.
There’s something about the time-capsule hair, the outlandish dress-up clothes and staggering youthfulness that makes these pictures veritable treasures.
Sometimes the smiles are so sweet it all but crushes you.
Who doesn’t enjoy looking at archival photos of fresh-faced prom couples and wondering “What were they thinking with those outfits?”
So here’s what I’d like to do. If you will email me a picture of you and your prom date from long ago, I will figure out a way to display it (probably online). And yes, I will be naming a king and queen of this photo roundup.
I would personally join in the festivities except proms were deemed too corporate at my high school (Gold Medal class of ’73), man.
When you send me your photos (address at the end of the column) please answer a few of the following questions and include your contact information.
You don’t have to answer all of these. Feel free to pick and choose.
What was the theme of your prom?
Were you and your date a long-term couple?
What became of your romance?
Do you remember any of the songs to which you danced?
Did your date get drunk or stoned that night?
Were post-prom liberties taken?
Did your date later claim that post-prom liberties had been taken?
Care to explain your hair in the picture?
How would you describe the style of dancing that prevailed at that time?
Were you named prom royalty?
If not, how did you feel about the kids who were?
Where did you fit in the social order of your high school?
How excited were you about going with your date?
When you looked in the mirror that night as you were getting ready, what went through your mind?
Now, a word of caution. When, upon publication of these pictures, you find yourself about to critique the looks of the couples in question, remember to be kind.
Don’t do what I did when I interviewed Dinah Shore back in the mid-1980s.
She was promoting a cookbook. But my editor wanted me to seek salacious details of her rather public personal life.
I had gone to meet her at her hotel room. She was lovely in every way.
But at the outset of our conversation, I volunteered that I had just seen a movie she made about 40 years earlier. Intending it to be a compliment, I alluded to how pretty she was at that time.
But the way it came out, I might as well have said, “Boy, you were quite the babe way back then, Dinah.”
As if, by implication, she was a wrinkled hag in the mid-1980s.
Only her impressive grace and charm saved the moment.
So when looking at photos of 17-year-olds who are now considerably more mature, it might be wise to refrain from repeating my Dinah Shore gaffe. Especially when that former 17-year-old is seated nearby.
OK, a few more prom questions.
From what you have observed, how have proms changed over the years?
What advice have you given to couples heading off to their proms?
How much was spent on your prom outfit?
What have you spent on your own child’s prom outfit?
Was a corsage involved?
How did you get to the site of the prom?
Have you ever been a prom chaperone? (What was the biggest challenge?)
If you had a do-over re: your prom, what would you change?
Have you ever seen a movie that captured your own prom reality?
Who was your role model when it came to talking to your daughter’s date before they left for the prom?
I might be dating myself with that last one. I mean, is the meet-the-parents moment even a thing anymore? Or do kids just rendezvous at the venue?
Whatever. This isn’t really about 2018.
Thanks in advance for the photos. I’m quite sure all of you look great, then and now.