I dread opening my Facebook feed during May.
Sandwiched in between the inevitable pro-Trump/Hillary rules/Feel the Bern/Moving to Canada rhetoric are the photos. My head is pounding as I envision them -- and I'm not even on Facebook as I write this.
The boys in their rented tuxedos, misaligned bow ties suffocating their necklines, arm in arm with prom dates, their bodies a mashup of taffeta, big hair and corsages affixed by mothers after several fruitless, nerve-racking (and in some cases painful) attempts by the guys.
And now, thanks to parents who really should know better, those awkward moments are splattered across the internet.
Moms and dads, it's time to pull out your high school yearbooks. There's a reason they're gathering dust in the basement or serving as a breeding ground for spiders in the attic. For within those pages lie photos you would surely have deleted were digital photography around in 1985, when you danced to Bon Jovi and Def Leppard at your high school proms. I recently perused my own prom collection: a hodgepodge of photos of my date and me in my backyard, in front of my family room fireplace and, when we finally arrived at the event, on a wicker swing that now looks as though it was stolen from either the Survivor finale or Gilligan's Island.
For my junior year prom pose, the glint from my braces contrasted nicely with the powder blue, polyester tuxedo I had painstakingly chosen at the mall's formalwear outlet. By senior year I was free from orthodontia metal but not the polyester, opting for a navy blue tux and hair parted down the middle in my futile attempts to resemble Tom Petty. When I submitted this column, my editor asked if I had a prom photo to accompany it. My response? "Apparently you didn't READ the column."
Parents, this is my point. It's OK to hold back tears while gazing at the "oh so grown up" children you have sired as they complete high school. And yes, feel free to whip out your phones and capture the moment in both portrait and landscape modes. Pick the best photo, send it to your wireless printer or the one operated at your local drugstore and place the finished product in your nightstand.
Not on Facebook or Instagram, where it could be viewed in 20 years via a quick online search by your child's future employer.
"Whaddya think, team? Should we take a chance on this guy who, judging by the hair, thinks he could be the next Justin Bieber?"
Speaking of career aspirations, I demand Facebook adopt new rules for parents who insist on posting photos of their offspring, clothed in cap and gown, holding college diplomas. Yes, graduating from one of this nation's higher learning institutions is an event worth celebrating. But the real victory comes after, when that diploma is exchanged for an actual job paying actual wages. So, Facebook, please compel these same parents to post one-year "follow up" photos, regardless of their grad's current life situation. Hopefully those photos will feature these young adults passing through the front doors of Fortune 500 companies wearing employee ID badges. Or assisting in surgical procedures. Or building useful commodities. But, parents, if all you have is a picture of your diploma wielding child living at home and perusing want ads while wearing a barista uniform, you are obligated to post those. Rules are rules.
I must end this column, for I am off to a ceremony for my 14-year-old daughter, soon to be walking across a stage to accept her junior high diploma. I plan to take one photo of the blessed event, share it with family members who couldn't attend in person and then delete it off my phone lest I'm tempted to upload it to social media. When the night ends, I will climb in bed, reflect on a wonderful evening and, instead of flipping on the TV, I'll pull out my iPad and Google "Prom photos circa 1978."
And I'll laugh myself to sleep.