Every Thursday in LOL Interwebz, Luke T. Harrington explores the quirks and foibles of Internet culture from a Gospel perspective.

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“That’s a sh*tty way to ask someone to prom.”

this video

One of my favorite memories from the last few years is being stuck on the couch, unemployed, holding a screaming baby.

In a short month my life had been turned upside-down: my wife had gone through an ugly, violent round childbirth that had left her on her back while our newborn daughter languished alone in a NICU for days; following that, we had brought home the world’s angriest baby, who (understandably) treated us to five or six hours of interminable screaming every day; and to top things off, I had lost my job.Will you spend weeks at a time with me on the couch holding our screaming baby and sharing in my misery while building terrifying memories that we’ll both cherish forever? Because if not, who cares?

My wife still had a bit of time left in her six-week, unpaid maternity leave (’Merica!), so there wasn’t much to do besides camp out on the couch and pass a screaming baby back and forth. We spent several weeks playing through the Uncharted videogame series, continually swapping the controller for the baby, occasionally trading drags on a menthol e-cigarette, and ordering cheap pizza whenever we got hungry.

We were exhausted, we were broke, we were miserable, and we had more joy at that moment than we had ever had before. While my wife gunned down thousands of disposable thugs, I looked at the miniature banshee in my arms and thought to myself, I think I might finally understand marriage.

After all, a home that’s not designed to weather a storm is no home at all, and a marriage designed only for fairytale fantasies and hot, steamy sex is the relational equivalent of Entertainment 720—raiding the coffers while neglecting the reasons those coffers even exist. There’s no reason to start a diaper-changing business if you’re not willing to be elbow-deep in poop.

I‘ve long been uncomfortable with big, elaborate marriage proposals, and I’m starting to understand why: they attempt to make a spectacle of something that is, in reality, a very ordinary thing. Men and women fall in love and get married all the time; the species wouldn’t have survived long if that weren’t the case. Those who make a big deal of their love protest too much, methinks.  A fancy proposal is proof of your love’s intensity, not its lasting strength.

The other day, I learned in the worst possible way that the fancy proposal business had even spilled from marriage over into the high school prom. Apparently the “promposal” is a thing, and no, I didn’t make that word up. (It’s also possible that I’m the last person on earth to learn about it. If that’s the case, feel free to excoriate me in the comments. But also get off my lawn.)

The video that tipped me off to this brave new world of promposals was one going around the Interwebz under the promise of a “failed” one. Evidently, a high school senior bought a series of billboards to spell out a message for his girlfriend one word at a time: “ALEX…WILL…YOU…MARRY…LOL JK…GO…TO…PROM WITH ME?” before picking her up and driving her past them. Unfortunately, she missed the sign with her name and gave a refreshingly candid response: “That’s a sh*tty way to ask someone to prom.”

She cried and apologized when she learned the truth, but her initial response was the better one. She was already his girlfriend; she knew prom was coming up; she would have gone with him even if he’d never bothered to ask. The money he spent on the billboards proved nothing except his blindness for his senior prom’s total lack of importance.

Prom is to marriage what buying a Filet-o-Fish is to purchasing the McDonald’s Corporation.

And weddings? Weddings are nothing like marriage, either.

At most, they’re like upgrading to the Filet-o-Fish combo.

(You go, big spender.)

And really, I think that’s what bothers me about elaborate proposals—and for that matter, elaborate promposals. Sure, you’ll put in the effort, time, and money to make a big, public spectacle of your love, but will you do my taxes? Will you clean up my puke when I’m sick? Will you forgive me when I fail in the bedroom?

And will you spend weeks at a time with me on the couch holding our screaming baby and sharing in my misery while building terrifying memories that we’ll both cherish forever?

Because if not, who cares?

Image via Sean McGrath at Flickr.


  1. Hit the nail on the head. Awesome piece.

    (and promposals had me rolling my eyes almost 3 years ago. Git wit it, yo.)

  2. They’re kids. Let them have their fun. Promposals are sweet reminders that kids can be kids and put off the looming perils of adulthood a little longer. We shouldn’t make them rush through that.

  3. Matt,
    How long do we “let kids be kids?” 17? 20? 35?
    I don’t think we should encourage high schoolers to put off the “perils of adulthood.” If we encourage high schoolers to just have fun while you’re young they will just carry their immaturity into college to put off the realty of adult life for another four years(or more). Maybe it would be sweet and cute if they were just cresting adolescence, but when they are on the cusp of adulthood it’s maddening to see young adults wasting time of foolishness like promposals(I have a strong dislike for prom in general).
    We should expect more seriousness and maturity from our youth(I don’t mean a lack of humor or fun, but the putting away of childish things, actions to become men and women)

  4. You “lost your job” when Lucy was born? Wouldn’t it be more accurate to say you quit?

    And also, do I have to get married?

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