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Manitou dumps the grind at its prom

Ranger Rich

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Today we will discuss the past weekend's Manitou Springs High School prom (romantic prom theme: "A Walk In The Clouds ... Thank You Amendment 64") and whether the students danced so provocatively that actual parents sprayed them in the eyes with air freshener, as the story went after last year's formal gathering.

First, though, some background on this event known as the prom, which comes from the French word promenade, meaning, "Young Jacques-Pierre has had an erection since last Tuesday just thinking about it."

Seriously, the high school prom in America goes back to the dawn of the 20th century, when graduating high schoolers celebrated by wearing their finest clothes to a dance, the beaming couple sent off by the young man's parents in their Ford Model T automobile with the traditional Latin warning, Andum bettus non findei condei seatum ("And we better not find any condoms under the seat!")

From randomhistory.com: "At the high school level, proms were likely a regular event by the early 1900s. These ... proms were generally simple affairs where youth came only to dine together in their Sunday best. However, by the 1920s and 1930s, dancing had also become an essential element of the prom. Rather than a simple gathering, the prom was now an annual class banquet where students met with each other and danced afterward."

By the mid-1930s, as the Great Depression deepened, other prom traditions sprung up. These included eating the corsage and beating up the kid who still had shoes.

History books say proms became more risqué in the 1960s, and future National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre, then just 17, became the first to be thrown out of a prom — allegedly after asking girls if they wanted to play with his Derringer.

Other countries have proms, too. Wikipedia, which was actually right once, in 2004, tells us — I am not kidding — that in Pakistani proms "one girl is appointed 'Lady of the Evening.'" (This is almost always a Kardashian.)

And in Bulgaria, we are told, "After the prom night, students usually go on an excursion together for three to five days." Popular destinations? The Black Sea coast and Turkey. ("Ivanka is on telephone. Saying big somethings about need money and Romanian prison.")

Which brings us to last year's Manitou prom, where parent chaperones Hannah Rockey and Jennifer Farmer became outraged at the way the kids were dancing. According to some students and school staff, Rockey called the girls "whores" and sprayed them with Lysol, which got into some of the dancers' eyes.

From Rockey's letter to the Gazette last year: "My rule was that if a girl was bent over 90 degrees and a boy was thrusting into her posterior, I was going to step in to keep her from disrespecting herself ..."

Personal footnote: My rule at my senior prom in 1973 was that if a girl was bent over 90 degrees and was allowing a boy to thrust against her posterior, I was going to step in and ask her out for the following weekend.

This year, Manitou administrators banned three things from the prom: sexually provocative dancing, and more importantly, Rockey and Farmer.

A junior-class girl who went to the prom Saturday night said there were no problems.

"There were a lot of teachers there, maybe 10 or 15, but they didn't tell anyone not to do anything," the young woman said. "They really just sat there and watched us.

"Dancing wasn't really an issue for us. I think we just tried to ignore the teachers and have fun. The teachers kept to themselves."

Was it, I asked, better not having parents at the prom?

The junior laughed. "Yes," she said. "Definitely better."

Parents, she suggested, ruin everything. Which almost made me feel bad for an incident in 2003 when I went to my daughter's Air Academy High prom and, when the dancing heated up, I slipped and accidentally dumped a huge bucket of ice water on her date. Eleven times.

So relax, Manitou Springs parents. You raised terrific kids. They will go on to do great things in this world. Stop worrying about them.

Unless you get a phone call this week from Turkey.

Rich Tosches (rangerrich@csindy.com) also writes a Sunday column in the Denver Post.

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