So in today’s Post-Gazette there is an article about the national trend of “asking cute” to high school dances. In case you’ve been ignoring teen-related pop culture for the last few years let me catch you up: it’s now a little old school to just ask a girl to Homecoming or Prom, there needs to be a public gesture – a pizza with toppings made to spell homecoming or a sign on a locker or in one instance, a helicopter flying over to drop off a stuffed animal with a “Would you like to go to Fall Fest?” necklace. Basically, the sort of thing that is tangible – that can be posted on Facebook or Twitter or YouTube so that anybody with a computer can learn how you got asked to prom.
The first time I saw anything like this was on “Friday Night Lights” and I remember thinking “Wow, that seems a bit much” but I reassured myself that it was only TV and it was Texas after all so logic doesn’t apply. With my apologies to anybody who may be reading this from Texas, in my mind the whole state is just women with heavy make-up and men who slap their wives bottoms in public and they are always at a backyard barbeque or a tailgate and they are always saying things like “Woo!” and “That’s how we do it in Texas.” I’m not necessarily saying that as if it’s a bad thing, just that in my mind Texas is a completely different ballgame, so I was a little surprised to see this trend catching on right here in the Burgh.
Now before I go all curmudgeon “Get off my lawn” crazy old lady, let me just say that part of me thinks it is really sweet some of the lengths that these boys are going to to ask girls to the dance. And if I was a teenage girl and the boy I had a super-duper crush on invited me to Homecoming with a romantic gesture in front of the whole class while I would have been a little embarrassed to be the center of attention, I would also have been extremely delighted.
But I remember my teenage years all too well my friends and I’m pretty sure that instead of being the girl to receive the romantic gesture, I would have been the girl making sarcastic quips about the girl who did receive the “cute ask” and then crying myself to sleep because nobody asked me at all or nobody asked me cute enough or because somebody asked me perfectly cute but he wasn’t the guy I really wanted to go to the dance with but then I’d feel obligated because he asked so nice. (Sad trombone)
So while I understand how flattering this must be for the girls lucky enough to be asked cute, I can’t help but think of how this might be making high school even more of a “blood-soaked nightmare hellscape*” than it usually is.
It also makes me think about how much our lives are changing due to social media and pop culture. I recently saw a story on “Good Morning America” about how social media is transforming the first day of school photos into a really huge deal and there were women who were getting up at like four in the morning on the first day of school to get all the props ready and set the scene for a memorable photo. I’m all about capturing life’s moments but it makes me wonder how this generation of parents who are sharing their children’s lives on-line will up the ante of almost every childhood milestone – like am I going to have to post on FB when the girls get their first periods? And as The Husband has said on more than one occasion, it’s gonna get all sorts of gross up in our FB newsfeed when these kids start doing the deed.
Look, I love me some social media but there are some days (sometimes weeks) when I have to stay off of it because I’m constantly comparing my life to other people’s lives and feeling hopelessly inadequate and then feeling ashamed about my feelings of inadequacy and then eating a half box of Cheez-Its and drinking a bottle of wine to make myself feel better. Oh, the shame spiral. And while nobody on-line seems to talk about it, I know that other people feel the same way because I can’t tell you how many times I talk to my smart, beautiful, talented single friends whose lives I envy on Facebook and they say things like “I’ve really been feeling down because everybody on Facebook is having a wedding or a baby.”
And then recently I had an exchange with one of my friends where I said something like “It looked like you had a really good weekend on Facebook” and then she said something like “Oh my god, no, I was miserable the whole time and I kind of like totally hate my life right now.”
But looking at the mobile uploads of her on the previous Saturday night with her good hair and big group of friends, it was impossible to tell that her smile wasn’t entirely sincere.
In general, I’m wary of grand gestures and bragalicious status updates because I tend to think that they’re overcompensating for something so I imagine that when I have teenage girls waiting to be asked cute I’m going to be honest with them and tell them that the whole thing is kind of insane and that they shouldn’t think anything less of themselves if nobody asks them or if a boy doesn’t ask cute but just asks. Unless he asks via text message in which case he’s probably an ass.
So what do you think about asking cute? Do you think I’m making too much over nothing? Or do you think it’s a little cuckoo crazy?
*To steal a phrase from Ron Swanson.