Here are the three things which differentiate the sexes:
The recent announcement in my family that my sophomore daughter has been invited to prom resulted in gushing enthusiasm from the XX's in the family, with the XY's being divided into two camps. My 9 year old male son takes the position "what is prom?" a position which seems worldly and philosophical on the face of it, but which turns out to be one rooted in ignorance--he simply doesn't know. And my own reaction, "oh my God!" remembering the conviction once held by me as a high school senior that to ask a girl to prom was pretty darn close to taking one on a honeymoon.
"Don't you remember your first prom?" my wife asked, her eyes aglow.
Sure I do. I invited a girl named Anne. I wanted to rent a classic black tuxedo, but the rental place I went to was all out (though they did have a nice selection of floor scrubbers.) I eventually settled on a lime green tux with a ruffled burgundy shirt. I looked like a cross between Omar Sharif and Andy Warhol.
The day before prom I hit a duck with my car. The windshield shattered. When I asked my father if I could borrow his car, he responded sympathetically, "hell no." I picked up Anne in a car with no front window. It wasn't really raining that hard, but I agreed with Anne later that I should never have taken the interstate. We arrived looking like we'd been riding a roller coaster in a hurricane. The theme of the prom that year was "Hydrocarbons in the Atmosphere" (This was the seventies. We still let school out for Earth Day.) Anne and I won the award as "Most Polluted." (This was not the last honor I received from my classmates. For the yearbook they nominated me "Least Likely to Reproduce.")
Every year for a decade, on the anniversary of prom, Anne sent me a card reminding me that I was the worst date she'd ever had.
My daughter assured me I would really like her date because he had a great sense of humor. As evidence, she announced the fact that he had died his hair electric blue "just to be weird." I replied I didn't care what color hair he had as long as he didn't try to come in my yard. Ha ha, see, you have a sense of humor too, my daughter teased.
Now, I've met Mr. Blue Hair. He looks like he was in a jewelry store the day it was bombed by terrorists: his face is full of shrapnel--rings and studs all over the place. He likes to reach out and put a protective arm around my daughter, though as far as I am concerned it is he who needs protection. My wife wants to know if we should have a professional photographer on prom night. Why, I ask, so we can get pictures of the kid's chalk outline on the floor? Ha ha, my daughter says, Dad you have such a sense of humor. Ho ho, I reply, here are the rules for your prom:
My wife, caught up in female prom hysteria, advises my daughter not to listen to me--a purely unnecessary instruction, since no one EVER listens to me. So I'm feeling a little desperate, and have a question for my readers: can anyone tell me if it is possible to train a duck to kamikaze itself through a windshield? I happen to know that a suicidal fowl and a car windshield combine to fashion a perfect birth control device--if you don't believe me, just ask Anne.
Copyright W. Bruce Cameron 1997
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