Maybe girls are the ones who can't stop talking about it -- what to wear, who to go with, where to eat, how late to stay out. But when it comes to prom time, plenty of guys will confess they're just as excited.
BAfter all, for many it's a first chance to look unexpectedly suave in a tuxedo, take a cruise in a limo, pull off a date more extravagant than a movie and burgers at the mall.
Tom Markley, a junior at Centennial High School in Howard County, and Nathaniel Smith, a senior at Dunbar Senior High School, have spent many hours this month thinking about their proms.
For Tom, 16, the big day came earlier in May, while 17-year- See old Nathaniel's turn comes Friday night. Here's how prom night has shaped each of their springs:
Since this was Tom's first taste of the coming-of-age ritual, he did it up right, complete with limousine and dinner at a nice restaurant.
"It's something you look forward to during a good part of your school life," says Tom, reflecting on Centennial's prom, which was held May 11 at Baltimore Grand.
"The girls make a big deal out of it, talk about it a lot, but the guys are probably thinking about it, too," says Tom. "They may not express themselves like the girls but they're almost as excited."
He and a friend, Mark Corriere, split the planning tasks between them. Tom had the job of finding a restaurant where the young couples would dine before the prom. He read several guides and visited prospects, finally selecting Peerce's Plantation in Phoenix.
Mark lined up the limousine. To help pay the $300-plus bill, the two boys asked another couple to share with them, and also got parents to chip in.
Tom's evening wear, which cost $125, seemed to have magical powers of transformation for a young man brought up wearing jeans and T-shirts. "When I finally put on the tux, it was wow, awesome!" he said.
All told, Tom spent $345 on the evening, money he'd saved working this past year. The evening was worth it, he maintains.
"It's once in a lifetime, so you want to make the best possible impression, make it as nice as possible," he says. "Now that I've experienced it, I don't necessarily feel more grown up -- but I do feel I took the first big step in becoming a senior and passed a major point in my life."
Nathaniel pulled out all stops last year for his junior prom; this year his plans are different. He'll be going solo to the senior prom so he can pal around with different friends at the last social get-together for the Dunbar class of 1991.
Like Tom, he describes the prom as a time of transition.
"It's a chance for the guy to really be a gentleman," he explains. "You're going out on the town with a date by yourself. It's $H chaperoned, but it's not like high school. You pretty much govern yourself. Some of us get to drive there on our own. And you get a passport to stay out late."
And, for some of his friends, the prom marks the start of more serious dating and even going steady.
"You might be just friends" before the prom, observes Nathaniel. But "you take the girl to the prom, and as the night progresses, you dance, you sit together and eat, and sometimes you end up as couples."
After last year's prom, Nathaniel and his date made plans to gtogether again this year. But by the spring, Nathaniel had other ideas.
"I really wanted to go by myself. This year it's your last time with the class. Everybody is excited about it, and quite a few people are going solo. That way you get into more pictures with the people in your class."
Nathaniel hopes to borrow his mom's 1991 Buick Regal for the occasion, taking along a carful of his buddies. After the prom, the group plans to go to a late-night eatery, staying out until 3 or 4 a.m.
"We'll sit around and enjoy each other's company, talk awhile about what went on at the prom and how everybody looked," he says. "Some people are saying they want to go to King's Dominion [amusement park] afterward, but that's a lot of hype. Once they look in their pockets, they'll say, 'Let's go home.' "
Centennial High Junior Tom Markley expected to spend vTC nearly $350 on his prom, based on the following estimates
* Tuxedo rental plus accessories: $125.
* Corsage: $25.
* Prom Tickets: $35.
* Dinner for two (with tip): $50 minumum
* Limousine for the evening (split three ways). $110.