Paradise Point had tables set up with a wide variety of soft drinks and fruit punches. They also had a lot of fruit, appetizers, and a great selection of desserts. I heard one girl say to her date, "You could've saved money on our dinner. There's so much food here that we could've eaten."
I saw an African-American kid wearing a white Padres cap that matched his tux. He reminded me of an African-American athlete from my school who showed up at the prom in a tux with tails, a top hat, and cane. He thought he was cool, but we spent the entire time making fun of him and singing "Puttin' on the Ritz" every time he walked by.
Watching the groups of people, I saw a few couples kissing and getting affectionate. But most groups would greet each other with hugs and handshakes, like long-lost friends who haven't seen each other in years. A few guys tried to act cool with high fives, slapping hands, and doing weird handshakes.
I asked several couples if they were nervous meeting their dates' parents. All of them said they had met the parents on previous occasions. Some parents gave the kids curfews; other parents agreed that they could go to the hotel parties, which usually involved 20 or more students who all chipped in for the room. One girl said, "My mom said I can stay out until 4:00 a.m., but she said my cell phone better be on, the battery better be charged, and that I better answer any time she may decide to call."
I saw a guy walking around in a weird plaid suit. His name was Nicholas and his date was Megan. I asked Nicholas about his suit. "This is my older brother's. It was in his closet, and it matched my date's [outfit]. I like the multicolors. My brother has gone to so many dances and he has a lot of different outfits."
She's a senior and he's a junior, and they are just friends. I asked them where they had dinner. "We ate at George's on Fifth," said Megan. "My friend's dad is a chef there, so we got a good deal." She told me she bought her dress but it wasn't that expensive. She also complained that she forgot her ID, which was required to get in. (She somehow made it inside.)
I heard one girl talking about a couple named Stephanie and Alex who were eating at the Indigo Grill in Little Italy and had a $400 dinner bill (they had seven other friends with them). A couple at the bar saw the kids at the table and paid their tab. The couple left before they could even be thanked.
The DJ played Michael Jackson's "Beat It," and the lights were completely dimmed. I should've asked him if Jackson was appropriate to play.
When the next song was played I heard a guy tell his date, "We have to dance now. That's my song." Another girl sitting nearby said, "That's the first time a guy has had to suggest they go out on the dance floor."
When a Kelly Clarkson song was played, more people got on the dance floor. It snowballed after that.
A girl put one of the napkins in her purse. "A Sunset to Remember, Prom 2005" was printed on it with an image of a couple kissing between palm trees. Her and her friends were also taking photos. Girls seem to be more into photos and keepsakes than guys are. Guys buy flowers and a card the afternoon of Valentine's Day. And the cards we receive usually end up in the trash a few days later. I'm willing to bet women spend hours searching for just the right card. And they probably save all the cards we give them (at least until the breakup, and sometimes, even after).
I heard one girl say, "Oh my God! I have to sit down. My feet are just killing me." One girl who told me earlier that she spent $280 on her shoes already had them off. "They were getting uncomfortable." I told her if I spent $280 on shoes, I'd sleep in them, and that they should have magical things happen when I click them together. She laughed and said, "It's not a waste of money. I'll wear them again." I wondered where, since she'd taken them off so early in the night.
This is probably the first time many of these kids have been to a formal, but they all carried themselves well. Nobody was yelling or cussing. People were shaking hands like they were going into business together. There have been studies that show kids behave better when they are dressed up.
I talked to another couple named Victor Kareh and Ashley Roche. She's a senior and he's a cadet at West Point. Whenever he answered my questions it was "No, sir. Yes, sir."
They had been dating for 20 months and he flew out here just for this event. He was flying back to West Point as soon as the prom was over. Ashley said, "We met at OLP. That's an all-girls Catholic school." She told me they had dinner at home.
One girl overheard me asking questions about the expenses, and she told me she spent almost a thousand dollars. I asked why so much. "This stuff adds up. I had to get my hair done. I had a manicure and a pedicure. I needed to buy this dress. It's good my boyfriend paid for dinner."
The least amount anyone I talked to spent on clothing was a guy who told me his tuxedo was only $70. And he looked better than a few of the guys who had the long tails, pinstripes, and weird colors.
There was an employee replacing drinks. His name was Marcos. I asked him if it was hard working a prom. "I've been an employee here for 37 years. We do 20 proms a year. It's not hard. The kids are great. And we see a lot of the same schools each year. Weddings are a lot harder because we have to pour champagne and wine. Here we just have cans of soda we set out."