Symptoms of Senioritis

Grace Klein (above) is a Scripps Ranch High School senior who graduates this month. She writes columns for the SRCA Newsletter about her high school experiences from her unique perspective.

She requested her column be called “The Voice” in honor of her summer reading assignment, “A Prayer for Owen Meany.” “The Voice” is the name of Owen Meany’s column in his school newspaper in the book. He used his column to criticize everything and everyone at his school. Grace explains, “My column will be more sanitized than that, as my parents have forbid me from insulting anyone directly. But the principle still applies.”

Here’s what the world looked like one week before prom. There were only about six weeks left in school, but we seniors were going to ruin as many friendships as we could in the meantime.

It was May, marvelous May, when every repressed hormone-exacerbated emotion came bursting out in a veritable volcano of word-vomit. The underclassmen were freaking out because AP testing—and the last chance to raise their holy relic GPAs—was finally here—except for the freshmen, who were just freaking out because everyone else was.

We seniors, meanwhile, were doing our best to churn up every buried hatchet our lie detectors alert in an effort to destroy any meaningful relationships we had built during high school, and taking more AP tests than anybody else. Because—hold on to your suspender straps, ladies and gentlemen—prom was here.

My parents informed me that the courting rituals of teenagers didn’t used to be so elaborate. Seeing as, back in the day, prom was a test-run for matrimonials—in some parts of the country, it still is—I find this hard to believe. But, apparently, 21st century “promposals” have become over the top enough to attract the attention of editorial columns more illustrious than mine. For those of you who read the SRCA Newsletter but not the New York Times, here’s the “down low.”

Ringing a hotty up and asking her if she’d like to go to prom doesn’t cut it anymore. Now that rotary phones are portable and have buttons, there’s no challenge to it. Modern-day boys and girls have to be more creative. After all, there’s no point if the rejection won’t be embarrassingly public. As our teachers have gone to such lengths to warn us, peer pressure exists, so we might as well use it to our favor.

Promposing via flowers and a poster is standard, if boring. Ambitious askers will blow their allowances on 100 red roses to waste spelling out “Prom?” in their target’s driveway. Those who are more strapped for cash might spice it up by learning their beau’s schedule and leaving a letter in every class—a scavenger hunt of sorts. It can be done with flowers, balloons, or even Post-Its, and it’s always cute.

But the real try-hards are those who make it personal, with YouTube videos, handmade puzzles, and movie quotes. As my mother lamented, hopeful fiancées will be hard pressed to outdo their high school promposals.

Underclassmen try to get in on the fun too, but it’s during Homecoming season, so nobody cares. Homecoming doesn’t have the charming surprises of May’s rabid “proma”—I wish I could take credit for this term. Exes ask sisters or each other or unsuspecting freshmen. Groups grow and divide like melodramatic amoebas.

Facebook groups are devoted to making sure no two girls show up in the same dress. It’s like the group politics of Glee Club, but with the added intrigue of nobody knowing if the couple of the week are actually dating or just going as friends.

But, you know, the gossip is prime.

After four years together in a suburban small town setting, we seniors are itching to get out. And by May, we know whether we will or not. Among all the uncertainty of moving away from home, we are self-sabotaging. The wish to not be tethered to high school is warring with preemptive home-sickness and raging hormones, and the result is madhouse May.

Grace Klein, SRHS Senior