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Dating and Hand Grenades  by Che' Rippinger

Prom dates not just for kids any more
The Denver Post, Sunday Lifestyles, June 2, 2002

I just had a Cinderella experience. My date dressed up in a tux,  and I donned a formal gown for a night at the opera.

If I were a socialite, I might be hair-coiffing and haute  couture shopping on a regular basis. But as it is, I live in the  casual area known as Denver, where you can just as easily see a  tuxedoed CEO harmoniously seated next to a cowboy in his best  10-gallon, jeans and boots as you can see the mountains nestled  behind city buildings. And it's all considered cool.

My evening felt like prom again - but with a better date.  After seeing so many kids around town going to their own formals  last month, I enjoyed reliving those days.

Prom-goers are all dressed up. They're so beautiful, on their  best behavior and trying to impress one another. There are  flowers, small purses, cufflinks, hair spray, breath mints and  limos. Why do the kids get to have all the fun?

I think we should take the cue from the next generation and  have our own "adult prom." Ours would be similar, but with a few  changes for the grown-ups.

For our formal evening festival, everybody could still get  nervous and pressure each other about who they're taking, then get  frustrated and decide to go in a big group anyway. But we also  could be single after our last three or four divorces, or even  married with kids old enough to think that we are stupid (age 6  and above). Hey, if you are married, it's B.Y.O.S. (bring your own  spouse).

How about booking a major hotel for our adult prom - just  like high school? We could even defray the costs by inviting some  appropriate advertisers. Our sponsors could give out gifts like ab  rollers, orthopedic foot pads, Geritol, Metamucil and age-defying  rejuvenation lotions.

Think your teenage problems are a thing of the past? Welcome to "Adult Onset Acne," that lovely phenomenon brought on by aging  and level-shifting adult hormones. So steal your teenage son's  Clearisil, unless you have a new age health remedy that works  better (chewed up nettle leaf, perhaps?). While you're at it,  don't forget your regular Paxil, Rogaine, Claritin, Prozac, H.R.T.  and Viagra prescriptions.

The fun part of a party-packed evening is getting ready. For  the ladies, it's an all-day process (shopping not included). The  closet is raided for the perfect outfit, paired meticulously with  matching, seldom-worn accessories - possibly "borrowed" from your  teenage daughter's stash.

Commence preening with hair-poofing, nail polishing, a  pedicure, tweezing, concealing, moisturizing, loofahing, pumicing,  face-painting and - ouch! - waxing. Of course this all gets done  during your two-hour break between the day's last corporate  takeover, rush-hour traffic and wrangling the kids, pets, and  other household dependants. (One more if you count the one who is  whining: "Honey, do these socks match?")

The gentlemen might have to sit in traffic, too, but it's  usually to pick up a tux that comes complete with matching  accessories. Forget the youthful "washboard-ab six-pack." This  suit has been tailored for A "new" six-pack frame - the kind  developed by drinking beer and ignoring the dusty "Abs of Steel"  videotape.

Aging gives new meaning to the "penguin" suit - now a garment  prompting a wobble walk, caused by attempting to breathe out the top side of a lower-riding cummerbund.

Men's pre-prom primping is more like a pit stop, because they  can do all these things in less time than it takes to gas up and  change tires. In less than half an hour, they can shower, shave,  floss, slather on deodorant, gel, mousse, comb-over and put on  clean underwear. Psst ... Men, a word to the wise: a nice cologne  and floral gift will increase your odds for post-prom action.

Then comes the prom chariot. You could go for the minivan  strewn with fast-food debris and a week's worth of protein-bar  wrappers, if you want a real mood killer. Or you could try to  hurriedly fix the garaged Corvette - a three-year labor of love  and perpetual project. But alas, it's just not as sexy to have  your prom "chauffeur" turn out to be a skull-tattooed Shrek-type  tow-truck driver, called out to rescue you and your date when the  beloved 'Vette conks out.

Better yet, rent a limo. But you're an adult now. Let's get  obnoxious. Instead of choosing the boring stretch limo, get the  Hummer. You never know when the world is going to collapse when  you're out on a date. Plus there's nothing like a little  four-wheeling with a wet bar to keep things interesting.

And now on to the ball, or rather, the crepe-paper fantasy of  your youth. At the modern prom, you might see party games like  "speed dating" (meeting lots of people in a few minutes each). But  for the "think-you're-too-old-now" crowd, you could have "walker  dating" (meeting one or two others with similar mobility devices,  nursing their own aging snap-crackle-and-pop joints with glucosamine).

Are you bored rocking to the oldies of the '70s - or egad! -  the nostalgic '80s? Well guess what? The punch bowl is spiked! And  now it's legal.

Of course there's a virgin punch next to it - for those in  the group who are now AA token holders. And there always will be a  couple of overprocessed soccer moms who mistakenly think that by  drinking "virgin punch," they can get their original prom-night  innocence back.

Speaking of which, just because you're an adult doesn't mean  you can pass up the condom aisle in the grocery store. Get some.  If not for your accompanying spouse, then for your single friends  who might actually get lucky.

After the main event dance, there's a post-prom get-together that at one time might have  included a hotel room. Well, find a sitter and make plans. You're  going to try to stay up past your 10 p.m. bedtime. Go ahead; break  corporate curfew. Dance 'til dawn. Watch the sunrise lying on the  hood of the Hummer.

You can't nap - this is prime time for a make-out-session,  remember? Hello caffeine and ginkgo!

Finish off your gala with breakfast at a greasy dive, now  that you're complete with wrinkled clothes and smudged makeup.

Don't worry. You'll now be dragging for as long as a week,  but I'm sure your boss will be most sympathetic.

Che' Rippinger is a writer, cartoonist and relationship humorist with a heart. Please e-mail questions or comments to Che@DatingAndHandGrenades.com or visit online at www.DatingAndHandGrenades.com. Questions may be selected and edited for the column.