Danville Express

Living - February 16, 2007

The 411: Facing prom anxiety

by Katharine O'Hara

As prom time is approaching once again, I've started gearing up for the non-stop discussion of who will ask whom, who will wear what, and where to go for the best after-party. It seems the extensive efforts to create the perfect night have gotten a bit out of hand, and the amount of stress and anxiety that surrounds what is supposed to be an enjoyable night is more than necessary. Issues of appearance, money, expectations and rejection loom over the minds of hopeful prom-goers, and it seems only appropriate to explore the nature of the anxiety surrounding such an eventful occasion in the life of teenagers all over the country.

After the dress is bought, the tux is rented, and the couples are set, the age-old dispute is at question once again - who pays for what?

"Prom is something guys should pay for when it comes to dinner and tickets. After all, girls are paying a lot for dresses, shoes, hair, jewelry and the like. I think at the end of the night, girls are always spending more," said Maddie Cole, a junior at San Ramon Valley High School.

The same opinion holds true for Nick Pittarides, an SRVHS junior.

"I think guys should always pay. It's a generous price tag ($75 per person), but I don't think that following tradition is a bad thing."

I, too, think it is important to maintain some level of tradition in our very politically correct society that, in many areas, is straying from the conventional way. And most likely, the girl will end up breaking even with her date, if not end up paying more.

However, Callie Nobriga, also a junior at SRVHS, disagrees.

"I think that guys should only pay if they asked their date. For prom this year, I'm asking my boyfriend who is a senior, and I will be paying for his ticket. Whoever does the asking does the paying."

That seems practical enough. Though to me, what seems most fair is that each date pays for their own ticket. That way, both people are invested in having a good time and neither person sets him/herself up for being taken advantage of.

So what about those without dates? Is it OK to go stag?

"Of course!" says Pittarides. "You shouldn't let not having a date stop you from enjoying your prom - embrace it! If you go with a group of friends, you'll have just as much fun."

However, this is not the opinion of all.

"A friend told me that going stag was boring, because all of her friends had dates and she felt out of place," said Jessica Fuca, a junior at SRVHS.

I get the feeling that this is the fear of many girls, but this doesn't seem to hold them back, seeing as though there is always a substantial group of them who attend the prom dateless. Personally, seeing most people having a good time with their dates, and not being part of it, seems pretty unappealing. Going stag just sets you up for feeling bad and excluded. And as far as guys going to prom without a date? Well, that virtually never happens.

"A lot more girls go stag than guys do. The guys who don't ask girls to the dance are probably not that interested in going to prom to begin with," said Nobriga.

And of course, when talking about prom, it is seemingly appropriate to talk about sex. For some, prom night is the night, and it seems there is an overwhelming connotation around prom that establishes somewhat of a sexual expectation.

"I think a lot of people associate prom night with sex, especially since that is how prom is portrayed in a lot of teen movies," remarked Nobriga.

"I think there are a lot of expectations for prom night; I've heard some wild stories ... It's cliche though. I know I wouldn't want that no matter what a guy expects. It's your right to decide, and I wouldn't want to, despite the pressure," said Cole.

However, the whole sex scene can somewhat be avoided based on your date and after-party plans.

"Going to prom as mutual friends is the best way to go. Then there are no expectations made or drama at school afterwards," said SRVHS junior Grant Lipson.

"If a guy asks a girl to prom, it doesn't mean he likes her romantically. In fact, I think you'll find that more often than not, guys ask girls just as friends, which seems to work out pretty well. Typically there aren't going to be sexual expectations if you go with a friend," claims Pittarides.

When it comes to prom, I suppose there is no way of convincing teens that the night is not worth the stress everyone makes it up to be. Bringing a good friend overwhelmingly seems to be the right way to go, practically guaranteeing a good time and a night to remember.

The 411 offers information and insight on the teen scene by Katharine O'Hara, a junior at San Ramon Valley High School who spends her free time going to concerts, enjoying her friends, and playing the piano. E-mail her at ohara5@comcast.net.


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