Ben Laube and Whitley Starnes were ready for their recent prom at Dobyns-Bennett High School. (Photo Contributed/Leigh Ann Laube)
Hold on to your boutonnières — it’s prom season in Johnson City.
Every year as the weather turns warm, hair salons and makeup counters are mobbed by beaming teenage girls and tuxedo rental stores run out of size lanky.
If you’ve seen decades of popular movies, you know that prom night is either an enchanted evening where long-suffered crushes become requited love, nerdy girls let down their hair and take off their glasses to transform into beautiful princesses and everyone automatically knows the choreographed dance moves to the ending credits song, OR it’s a hedonistic free-for-all fueled by primal lust, alcohol abuse and aimless profanity.
But with Hollywood’s track record of producing real-to-life films with mass appeal to audiences, skeptics might have a hard time accepting their catalogues of coming-of-age DVDs as historical documentaries.
How do real, local juniors and seniors look at the prom?
“It’s the last big event before graduation,” senior Emma Martindale said last week in a conference room on the campus of Science Hill High School. “It’s a chance to hang out with your friends and have some fun before everyone goes off to college.”
The school’s Grand Topper Hall will play host to the combined junior and senior prom this weekend, the final social event of the school year for many of the attending students.
For months, female students have been obsessing over their dresses, pouring over style magazines filled with up-dos and waiting somewhat patiently for the likely candidates to pop the question.
Some boys, like junior Rob Hash, went all out when asking his date, staging a “prom-posal.”
“I surprised her with a little box frozen in water,” he said sheepishly. “She had to break the ice to get it out, kind of like breaking the ice in a conversation.”
Others didn’t quite achieve the same level of production value.
“I just sent a text message,” senior Liam Quinn said, obviously impressed by Rash’s level of commitment. “We’ve been friends forever, so it was kind of the obvious choice.”
As for the drunken debauchery of pop culture, Cleo Mellish said that’s not very common among her group of friends.
“It’s just not an issue for me,” Mellish said. “If you can’t have fun without being drunk, you’re really not the kind of person the people I know would like to be around.”
All she’s looking for, Mellish said, is a fun, drama-free night with a little dancing and maybe a trip to a late-night pancake house afterward.
For the two seniors, leaving the nest after graduation is a welcome event.
“I’m ready to get out and go off to bigger and better things,” Quinn said. “The prom is the traditional last event, with corsages.”
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