In recent years, as social media has gained critical mass, public promposals have become a fixture of the high school social scene. If you’re in the middle of planning an elaborate public promposal to woo that amazing prom date though, stop now. If you’ve already endured the ordeal, my condolences. You might be asking, who is this party pooper to come and rain on my prom parade? Give me just a few hundred words to make my appeal for a more private, subdued promposal affair.
To start off, the publicity and extravagance of a promposal in front of a crowd may be off-putting for some. The attention may be troubling for your promposee, or it may even be perceived as insincere – is this show for the promposee, or is it also for the onlookers? There is an anecdote that the Japanese novelist Natsume Soseki once suggested to his students that “I love you” should be translated into Japanese as “the moon is beautiful”. It’s a subtler way to express emotion, implying that the moon is beautiful because you’re appreciating it with a special person. A guy in your calculus class might be kind of confused, however, if you tap him on the shoulder and tell him that the moon is beautiful, so you could probably be a bit more direct than that.
Additionally, a public promposal introduces anxiety and unknown variables into an already complex and potentially disastrous affair. It’s already pretty terrifying to ask someone to be your date even before you invite their friends to watch on and evaluate your performance. In addition, promposing publicly introduces dynamic and unpredictable quantities, such as the volume level, traffic, and airflow pattern of a hallway. These cannot be planned for, and therefore should be avoided if possible.
Finally, there is the problem of exit strategy. In Case A, where the promposal has been executed correctly, with minimal deviations from the devised strategy, there is the critical fallout period. You’ve just introduced a lot of heightened attention and emotion into the room, with nowhere to direct it. Everyone says “Yay, it worked”, and then what? Without a proper exit strategy – a cake that can then be cut and shared while the attention is gradually diverted into other activities and conversation, for example – the next step can be a little awkward, even moreso if somebody is filming.
In Case B, where there have been errors in the execution of the promposal strategy, a quieter, more private promposal could offer your promposee the opportunity to laugh it off. It will also make it easier to recover from your blunder. The question of dealing with the fallout period also becomes simplified. Instead of having an exit strategy for a crowd of people, you only need to plan for one. You can easily divert your new prom date into some interesting conversation, for example. If it doesn’t go well, you’ll be able to walk it off much more gracefully.
All in all, the quiet promposal is more genuine and more controllable than the public promposal which has come to dominate our halls. Plus, the money you save on bouquets and bristol board could be spent on a delicious plate of french fries for you and your date, or some time on a tandem bike on Centre Island. At any rate, to all those stragglers who have still yet to make their move, and to next year’s schemers, good luck!
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