If my birthday last week wasn’t a sound indication that I’m getting old (older?) (oldish?), then all of the talk about proms in the news lately has made me feel practically ancient.

When I was in high school (back when dinosaurs roamed the Earth), the prom was a relatively big deal. Girls paid to have fake nails glued on in beauty salons, and bought dresses in department stores that, astonishingly, no one predicted would be made fun of in the not-so-distant future on countless websites with the word “Awkward” or “Fail” in the URL.

Boys rented ill-fitting tuxedoes that were almost always paired with colored high-top sneakers, and tiptoed uncomfortably into floral shops in an attempt to select corsages using whatever information they could recall about their dates’ electric colored, sequined or ruffle-y dresses (although no matter the color or style of the girls’ dresses, they essentially all ended up with uniform wrist arrangements that included wan carnations, anemic roses and baby’s breath).

Most middle class suburban kids pooled their (or their parents’) money for limousines or party vans to avoid any drinking and driving hassles. Many parents not only knew but tacitly condoned kids drinking at the prom — a few even threw booze-filled pre-prom parties for their kids’ friends and families so group shots could be conveniently snapped for posterity — and slept soundly on those prom nights knowing an early morning call from the police or morgue had been averted thanks to the sober middle-aged men in cheap, mismatched black suits who were paid to transport all of their tipsy kids from here to there.

The biggest drama of the evening was either when school administrators patted down kids in an attempt to confiscate flasks before they could be smuggled inside the actual dance, or when that one, too-drunk girl started sobbing inexplicably and/or puking understandably halfway through the evening.

Those were the good old days. Today’s prom-goers should have such problems.

The prom is still a big deal, but alcohol no longer seems to be what’s plaguing the big dances around the country. These days it’s the dresses of choice — less awkward and more slutty — that are keeping chaperones on their toes. Any frock that gives a hint of sideboob, or includes a plunging neckline or too-short hemline, or styles that dare to bare too much back or butt, or reveal exposed midriffs, or dresses with cutouts of any kind have been expressly declared indecent this prom season by principals at high schools everywhere.

One girl in western Tennessee was recently turned away at the door of her prom because of her inappropriate attire. However, it wasn’t because she resembled a Kardashian or a Snooki. It was because she resembled a racist. Yes, Texanna Edwards (I wish I were making up her name) wore a knee-length red dress with two blue and white ribbons crisscrossing at her hip. A Confederate flag dress. The only thing missing from her ensemble was a white hood, and maybe a noose pinned to her bosom in lieu of a corsage.

“I didn’t ask for approval [from school administrators] because I didn’t think I needed to. I had one teacher tell me it was a bad idea,” Texanna told the Jackson Sun. “But I asked a bunch of [black and white] people before I had the dress made, and they all loved the idea.”

Having spent $500 on her dress, hair and makeup, Texanna was less than thrilled to be deemed “inappropriate and offensive” and sent away before she had the opportunity to sway to Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight,” or whatever the go-to slow song the kids are grinding to these days (which may or may not be different for Klan members, although to that I cannot speak).

At many schools this year, even some wearing perfectly modest or non-white supremacist dresses aren’t allowed entry. Like, there have been stories in the news of boys prohibited from wearing dresses instead of tuxes and girls banned from wearing tuxes instead of dresses.

Then there’s Amanda Dougherty from Glendale, Penn., who won’t be going to the prom, but not due to a risqué dress or otherwise distasteful attire. It’s because her date canceled on her last week. If she had her way she would still go alone, especially since she already spent more than $1,000 on her ticket, dress, shoes and flowers. But her school, the progressive Archbishop John Carroll High School, prohibits kids who are not coupled from attending.

“For them to say that we’re not good enough to go unless we have a guy standing next to us, it’s just kind of sickening,” Amanda said.

The school argues they have other social events throughout the year in which kids are welcome to attend alone, but the prom is special in that a date is required for attendance.

I’m not well-versed in the New Testament, but I’m pretty sure there’s a passage in the Bible in which Jesus says he supports all girls who want to attend the prom with a date, alone or in big groups, and that if he were Amanda’s age, he would even ask her to dance.

Of course, with those sandals and that long frock, Jesus probably wouldn’t be permitted to attend any prom held in 2012 anyway. Those crazy kids today. Am I right?

More at MeredithCarroll.com.

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