As the school year ends, seniors reminisce about their long, hard journey of life and how much the world has changed since 2013 when “all the kids were twerkin’ and Harlem shakin’, ” my graduating student recalled nostalgically. He was working on an English essay, but most of his time was spent denouncing the rising cost of gas and prom tickets.
“Hey Mister…can you believe prom tickets are $60 each! That’s a $120 event!!” He waved his hands in the air, frustrated at this grave injustice.
I looked up from my papers sympathetically, resting my head in my interwoven fingers as I leaned back in my chair. It creaked the sound of teacher wisdom. “Have you ever heard of the term ‘First World Problems’?”
“Yes, yes…” he acknowledged the pettiness of his problem, but this awareness was short-lived.
“And the food, mister!! That’s like another $80!! You gotta be rich to go to prom.”
I rubbed my chin as I contemplated how to bring some real-world enlightenment to this young chap. I was about to wax eloquent about the unbalanced distribution of wealth and the still-evident consequences of colonialism throughout the world, but I was interrupted.
“I’ve got it!” His index finger shot up, pointing at an imaginary light bulb glowing over his head.
“Burger King!” He paused and processed his revelation. “It’s close to the prom venue…and it was recently renovated. Genius!!”
“I don’t know if Burger King reflects the usual prom motif,” I replied, conceding to his more narrow look on life. “If you’re going to spend that much money on tickets, you may want to bump up your dinner option a level or two.”
He paused and ran his hand through his shaggy black hair. I could see the wheels turning and a brilliant idea was percolating in his brain.
“Good point. How about…” wait for it…”Denny’s!!”
“Yeah…that’s up several notches!” A look of pride beamed from his face.
“You know what?” I replied, “you’re right! When I think ‘chic’, I think Denny’s. ”
“I know, right?!”
I could imagine his entourage walking into Denny’s with their bright blue and orange tuxedos, top hats, matching canes and monocles. As he passes the hostess, he stuffs a dollar bill into her hand and whispers, “Get us the party booth and there’s another one of these in it for you.”
Not wanting him to go into Denny’s without making the night fully memorable, I offered a – ‘grand-slam’ – of wisdom.
“If you want to boost the swank factor, make sure you order the Moons Over My Hammy special,” I suggested.
“The what? Is that going to get me in trouble?”
“Trouble…no? Tweetable? Yes. Trust me…and stay classy, class of 2017.”