Informant: The informant in question is a half-Jewish, half-Italian boy from Rockville Centre, New York. He currently is twenty years old and studying screenwriting at USC.
So umm my best friend in the world is this girl named Carrie. She’s a lovely girl and we are the classic love-each-other-to-death-but-will-never-date. And we do, the girl means the world to me and I believe I mean the world to her and we have so much fun but we would murder each other. And we agreed we would be prom dates. My high school is famous for big promposals, not like the internet promposals but everyone does one. And uh this guy we were friends with did this five minute video on the announcements, basically professing his love, using every adjective. I think he sat with a thesaurus and just did a five minute video on her. And I remember Carrie turned to me and said “if anyone did that to me, I would murder him”. So instead of replicating the video, I sat for three weeks in an editing lab and I cut out every time this guy had said the girl’s name and replaced it with “Carrie”, so that it was the exact same video. And I spent weeks, weeks editing this video down and I had her convinced I was gonna ask someone else and she was worried. But she didn’t know I had spent so much time on it, because you know you’ve got to get the audio just right and “Carrie” was a syllable longer than the other girl’s name so it wasn’t exactly right. And I got it on the announcement and she was ready to murder me. I’ve never seen murder in a girl’s face like that. But we went. It was really fun. I’m really proud of that. I remember her clearly saying “if anyone did this to me, I’d murder them” and I used the exact same video. I’m such an ass. I guess that’s the lesson, just be an ass, they’ll still go.
So where did you get this idea to do a big dramatic one?
It was a big deal at our high school, everyone did one. I guess I got the idea the year before. I was asked by a girl to go to her senior prom as friends. And umm, my mom told me I would be a “mensch” if I did it, which is literally “a nice Jewish boy” in Yiddish. And the girl was on the softball team. And I stood outside softball practice waiting with a sign that said “PROM?” and some flowers. Everybody did it, but my mom had planted it in my head that I needed to do it.
This particular story reflects a particular individual’s memorate of a more general folk practice unique to the modern American high school. Much like a wedding proposal, a prom invitation (or “promposal”) is considered a monumental event and as such, a young male doing one is expected to put a degree of care and showmanship into it. To some extent, the “promposal” serves as a mating ritual like any other, something a virile youth does to attract a worthy mate or in this case, prove their status to a chosen mate.
In a very immediate showing of the digital age’s transformation of folk practices, the individual in the story makes his “promposal” by directly modifying one made by another. By editing the other boy’s video, the individual in the story creates a layer of ironic distance between himself and such outward displays of affection. He also directly antagonizes the very person he’s asking, a showing of the close familiarity of him and his prom date.