'Tis prom season here in the ol' U.S. of A., and the subject seems to be circling around and around me lately. I recently heard from a younger friend that prom spending has become massive, and that teenagers think of prom as sort of 'practice weddings.' So, that information was revolting ENOUGH, when he proceeded to casually mention that they have a ritual where the boys take garters off their dates' legs with their teeth. A la the wedding garter ritual, except teenagers, en masse, and approved by the adultly authorities, believe it or not. This friend of mine graduated high school about 2000, and it was well-established by then.
No way, I thought: this is weird. This must be some stupid Buttcrack County ritual, and could hardly be normal nation-wide. But lo, I was wrong. I listened this weekend to the podcast of This American Life's prom episode, and a story produced in NINETEEN HUNDRED AND NINETY FIVE referred to this wedding-based prom ritual, in which teenage boys stick their heads between the sweaty thighs of their dates *ON THE DANCE FLOOR* and do this garter crap. When Ira Glass was surprised by this, a high school teacher said, "where have YOU been?" I was wondering the same thing myself: where the hell have I been that I didn't know this has been going on these fifteen years at least? Sixteen, even. Good gravy. I am a fogey. I am also a grossed-out radical feminist that does not approve of turning prom into a rehearsal for a wedding, along with the attendant expenses and heteronormativity and, of course, enforced couple-hood. of the wedding-industrial complex.
*Full Disclosure*: I attended several proms in my youth, but not my senior prom. I regret this decision NOT ONE WHIT. Furthermore, the proms I attended were at Catholic schools, and I would bet dollars to donuts that the Catholic schools still do not condone this sort of foolishness. Having one's date remove one's garter with his teeth is surely behavior reserved for the holy state of matrimony. Furthermore, there is absofuckinglutely no way I would've let some dude stick his face all up in my business in front of an entire hotel ballroom full of people.
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