Promenade is No Walk in the Park
language comprises some interesting words. Take "promenade,"
for example. This relatively innocuous word conjures up visions
of a tree-lined walk along the water and smiling people strolling
lazily in the sunshine while chatting idly about matters insignificant.
It is a lovely word, a serene word.
take that same word in its abbreviated form and you get a
distinctively different picture. "Prom!" The mere
whisper of the word is enough to send daggers of dread into
the heart of the most stalwart parent. It is the social event
of the scholastic year and it is guaranteed to deplete the
bankroll of anyone whose last name is not Rockefeller or Getty
I attended my senior prom in nineteen-mumblemumble, I rented
a tuxedo for $15, bought a lovely orchid corsage for my date
for $5, had my Mother drive me to pick her up at no cost,
got ripped off by the Hawaii Kai for about $20 worth of illegally-consumed
mai tais, paid a dime for us to ride the Staten Island Ferry
and thirty cents more for our subway ride home. Total cost
of my prom: $40.40. While that was not an insignificant sum
of money back then, it pales in comparison to today's national
as if the senior prom is not enough of a bank-breaker, we
have added the quaint custom of the warm-up for chapter eleven
known as the "junior prom." If you've got two daughters,
as I have, this one-two punch is nearly guaranteed to have
you eating pasta for years to come.
good Lord has seen fit to grant my Mother's oft hissed-through-clenched-teeth
wish by giving me children who are just like me. That is to
say, they are obstinate, manipulative and brain-dead. This
is a very expensive combination, as it translates into an
inability to listen to reason when it comes to spending my
money. Having been trained by their Mother in the fine art
of batting their eyelashes, flashing their winning--and, I
might add, not inexpensive--smiles and crooning the word,
"Daaadyyy" in a manner designed to pry open the
most miserly father's wallet, they are assured of nothing
more than token resistance from me.
on the "Let's Put Daddy in the Poor House" list
is the anguish of finding the perfect dress. This quest normally
consists of a series of day trips to various dress stores
where latte and scones are served as Mother and daughter browse
displays of $300 and $400 numbers while daddy waits in the
car, listening nervously to reports of the Dow tanking. Ultimately,
the "perfect" dress will be selected. It will be
one which brings daddy to the brink of cardiac arrest, as
it will barely cover the parts of his daughter that all daddies
prefer be completely covered at all times and, ideally, kept
under lock and key.
is the shoe decision. One would think this a relatively simple
task. If they fit and are the right color - Wah-LAH! One would
be incredibly wrong. In addition to fitting, being stylish
and precisely matching the dress color, the heel must not
elevate her past the height of the presumptuous dwarf who
had the unmitigated gall to ask her to be his date. This will
consume weeks of searching and another hundred bucks harvested
from the backyard money tree.
we're grabbing C-notes, let's not forget her crowning glory.
An appointment must be made months in advance of the big day
in order to secure the services of an artiste who will wash,
rinse, condition, blow dry, cut and style her hair just so,
leaving her to walk on eggshells for the rest of the day,
lest an errant wind or playful daddy attempt to come within
three feet of her. And, don't put that checkbook away just
yet, as this must be followed by a manicure and professional
application of make-up.
this time, most parents will consider doing business with
a guy named Mad Dog Mario, who will gladly advance them some
cash for an interest consideration somewhere in the neighborhood
of thirty-five percent.
she's dressed, shod, coifed, made up and her nails have been
sharpened, buffed and painted. The only thing left is to wait
for the tuxedo-clad, corsage-bearing, hormone-driven Brad
Pitt wannabe to show up and drive her to the prom, right?
Bwah! That ain't gonna happen. If you think this walking stock
portfolio is going to ride to the prom in something as uninspiring
as her date's dad's Oldsmobile, you're a candidate for the
we move on to the limo. This is a $500-for-the-evening mode
of transportation that is approximately 40-feet long, has
seating for 20, a hot tub and requires a harbor pilot to guide
it into place in front of the lucky parents' house where the
pre-prom party will be held.
did I forget to mention the pre-prom party? How remiss of
me. This is the one segment of the evening that most parents
enjoy (I say "most" because one pair of sucker
volunteers must supply their home and pay for the snackies
and, therefore, end up that much poorer than the other parents).
It is a photo-op for the one and only time they will ever
see their daughters in the dresses and shoes for which they
have taken out second mortgages to purchase. After that, they
will be hung in a closet, never again to see the light of
won't go into the after-prom parties which frequently last
overnight and take place at someone's summer digs in the Hamptons
or some such. While this is not usually an added expense,
its mere mention is likely to cause fathers all over to develop
a nervous tic.
the end, if you survive, proms are good preparation for the
ultimate financial nightmare, The Wedding. They make it somewhat
easier for daddy to write checks without his hands shaking
too badly. They also help steel him for the sight of his little
girl walking out the door on the arm of another man. It's
somewhat less painful this time--at least after the prom,
she comes back home.
2003 Tocqevillian Magazine