Update: a most charitable and public-spirited girl, Maylynn respectfully declined the promposal for fear of depriving womankind of the treasure that is MJ Chen.

Illustration by Frieda Rong.

Spring is near upon us. The question, gentlemen, is one of prom.

But the question cannot be asked so directly. It’s become a ritual swathed in roses and oneupsmanship: promposers must compete for prospective (or promspective—ha!) dates with ever fancier promposals. Still worse, the gender roles involved are wholly outdated: the idea that boys prompose and girls are promposed to is more 1950s than 2013.

I complain, yet the promposal remains integral to high school culture. Rebels are sexy, but prom rebels go alone (unless accompanied by similarly liberal-minded counterparts.) This article is for us prom-abiders. I have dedicated full minutes of my life to analyzing the art of promposing. I have discovered the four elements common to successful promposals. I have presented them below in an appealing serif font. Hope it helps.


Audience size is key. The bigger the crowd, the better. Remember that promposing in the open takes courage, confidence, and sincerity: qualities that well become the promposer. Any schmuk can send a private video, but a real man puts the link on Facebook or gets it played at the school assembly. Public promposals also increase success rates by putting pressure on the promposee. She’ll have difficulty refusing a good promposal in front of an enthusiastic crowd. If she does, she appears heartless and inconsiderate: a strong disincentive.


Be platonic. Promposals must balance sweet and serious: sweetness is cute, seriousness gives poignancy. The promposal must palatably convey deep feels and provoke a powerful emotional response from the promposee. Avoid clinginess or gushiness — both kill audience appeal. If sentiment is lacking, compensate with roses.


A successful promposal is often original and daring. Don’t be afraid to push the envelope. Feel free to experiment with cutting-edge social media — the Youtube video or the tweet, for example. Better yet, tweet a Youtube video. Chicks dig avante-garde.


Promposals should be stealthy. No one must see it coming. Plan in secret, and prompose when least expected. Be subtle: the initial reaction should be confusion, then suspicion. Suspicion should grow slowly, like a tumour. The later she recognizes the promposal, the more effective it will be. Realization must be sudden, like a stroke.

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But no reference is complete without an example. Assume a purely hypothetical promposer — let’s call him MC. He is thinking of asking his very close friend MD to prom. How would he best pull this off?

Given that MC happens to write for a hypothetical school newspaper with a strong Facebook presence, a high-traffic webpage, and a monthly print distribution of 2000, he should disguise his promposal in a cleverly written article for maximum exposure. His characteristic wit and writing style should remind MD of good times, like long afternoons editing uni apps and late nights helping with AP European History. His delivery is fresh and original — he is the first to prompose by Life article in the newspaper’s two-year history. MC is also incredibly subtle: the promposal only becomes obvious exactly 500 words into the article.

Example 1: Maylynn, will you go to prom with me?