June is the season of weddings. It's also the season of proms. I remember my high school prom. While my sister Laurie was Snow Queen at Westmount Secondary School, with her Farrah Fawcett-like hair and her suitors lined up around the block, I was the studious girl who was only known by my close circle of friends (although I did get my name carved in the marble wall in the foyer as an Ontario Scholar). Now, let me qualify, while Laurie was the most popular girl in the school, she was a lady. She behaved like a lady.
In the Spring of 1985, our prom was overshadowed by the Hamilton high school teachers' strike; but it still happened. My graduating class met at the Royal Connaught, a famous old hotel in downtown Hamilton. We had no limousine. Our parent just drove us. I went stag and sat at a table with a bunch of girls who did likewise. We ate a lovely dinner. And what was in our glasses? It was juice or water. WHAT??? No alcohol? Believe it or not, there was no alcohol served. Now, someone might have gone out in a back alley and taken a swig of something, but not to my knowledge. People behaved; I smelled no alcohol on anyone's breath.
Royal Connaught Hotel, Hamilton, Ontario courtesy www.cbc.ca.
After dinner, we took to the dance floor where we danced to Madonna, Michael Jackson and Duran Duran (my future sister-in-law's favourite group). I'm sure our last song was Spandau Ballet's "True", my favourite song and the song that we used to dance to at the end of every high school dance. Probably somewhere in there was "Stairway to Heaven" too.
Then we all said goodnight and headed home. And that was our evening.
Westmount Prom circa 1980's courtesy www.westmount50.ca/
Fast forward to 2013. The prom seems to be one big DRINKFEST. While girls go to great lengths to buy beautiful gowns, try on dainty shoes, pay for gorgeous hairdos, sit for pretty makeovers, they show up at parties with cases of beer. The boys are fitted for smart looking tuxes which include cummerbunds and shiny shoes. They show up with two cases of beer. And they don't just drink out of the can. They fill mini-kegs full of alcohol called "bubba-kegs". Then the girls and the boys (yes, they're not adults yet) climb into a fancy limo with more beer. According to one Toronto limo driver, drinking alcohol in a high school prom limo is illegal. They arrive at the dance where they proceed to boogie the night away. But where are half of the guests? In the washroom puking on their gorgeous gowns and handsome tuxes.
Question #1: Where do they get the beer? Our liquor store has a prominent sign out front stating "Under 25? Have your I.D. ready." In that case I would have had to show I.D. until I was 35. According to the Peel Public Health website: "In Ontario, it is illegal to buy, possess or drink alcohol if you're under the age of 19." Question #2: Who paid for the beer? Beer is not cheap. And today's generation doesn't exactly strike me as the hardest working one. Question #3: How are they driving home? According to one website, one- third of all teen traffic fatalities occur in April, May and June, the Prom/Graduation season (alcoholism.about.com). In some cases grads take limos; however, many do drive themselves to these celebrations. Question #4: What are they doing once the drinkfest is over, once their inhibitions go out the window? According to the Peel Public Health website: "Alcohol is used more often as a rape drug than GHB or Rohypnol."
And this is the point where some readers say: Get real. It's the 21st century. This is what kids do. It's all in good fun. They're almost adults. And I say, why do people have to drink to have fun? It seems like many of today's high school graduates are not taking their first drink. They are very familiar with alcohol. They likely started drinking earlier (for some, much earlier). By graduation, they are binge-drinking. If this is what they do for excitement now, what's next? By college and university, alcohol will be boring.
And what about the kids who don't drink? They become the "outcasts", the "losers", the "nerds". And yet, in essence, they are the true rebels. They are the ones who march to the beat of their own drummer, who have minds of their own.
When we were growing up, our family knew a family down the road from our mobile home at Turnbull's Grove on Lake Huron. They used to have wild parties every weekend. Dozens of people would show up at these shindigs. They never had a shortage of guests -- or alcohol. This went on for years. Then one day the couple stopped drinking. They went to A. A. The parties stopped. And the guests stopped coming. And the "friends" disappeared one by one. When all was said and done the couple had two or three couples who kept visiting; they knew then who their true friends were.
When the prom is over, when the last drink has been drunk, when the last streamer has been taken down, what is left? Who do the graduates count as friends? Who drives next weekend when there is no limo? And who picks up the pieces for those who have taken it too far? I know Brantford is the teen pregnancy capital of Canada. Some of the girls will be knocking at the door of the Crisis Pregnancy Centre. What happened to "all in good fun"?
I long for the innocence of yesterday. And that doesn't mean staying home. My Dad used to go to dances every weekend: Crystal Beach, Port Stanley, Grand Bend. But they didn't turn into drinkfests. I pray for my children, my teenager and my soon to be preteen, that as they pursue their high school diploma, they might enjoy all that is innocent. That they might enjoy life's little pleasures along the way. And that they might be sober graduates. And if one day, when it's legal, they do decide to drink, they do so in moderation.
Please read "Four Reasons to Say No to Alcohol at Prom at http://voices.yahoo.com/4-reasons-say-no-alcohol-prom-217450.html?cat=72