An open letter to the kids who went to prom in Des Moines on Saturday.

Dear friends,

I had no idea that getting your prom photos taken outside of the Iowa statehouse was a thing.

But it totally makes sense. With its gold dome, the capitol is pretty stunning. I tend to feel sorry for all other state capitols, as they are clearly deficient. As my brother pointed out, this is especially true for Nebraska. He referred to their skyscraper capitol as “The Penis of the Plains.”


But anyway. You all looked so lovely in all your prom finery. I realize I’m now an old biddy, because I look at you and think you look to be about 12, and I have old-lady thoughts like, “I’m so glad long dresses are back in style. Nobody needs to see vagina at prom.”

But you looked great.

Now, I feel like perhaps I should apologize for what happened on the steps of the statehouse, but then again? Maybe I should just explain.

My incredible family feted me with a surprise early birthday celebration. These amazing people planned many fun surprises, and we had a wonderful time together. Saturday afternoon, we spent 3 hours and $36 playing arcade games and drinking beer. We had no idea my dad was such a pinball whiz, but it’s true. You learn new things about the people you love all the time.

I should probably also mention that at this bar/arcade, my mom and I were hit on by 2 very nice gentlemen. They tried to buy her shots and bought me a beer. You’re in high school and don’t need to drink and probably get hit on 24/7 because you’re young, hot, and hormonal, but this was a big deal to us. See, I’m turning 40 next week. And my mom has been married for 46 years. Having these guys hit on us was kind of the highlight of our years.

We were feeling giddy.

And so, when we were walking back to the car, post-arcade? It just made sense that I would run up the steps of the statehouse, a la “Rocky.”

At first, we thought all the matching white tuxes meant there was a wedding. But then, we realized that it was prom, and photos were the name of the game. So, we improvised, and decided that instead of running up the steps to the statehouse, I’d just run up the steps leading up to the steps of the statehouse. There are a lot of steps.

I played “Gonna Fly Now” on my phone and ran up the steps while my family cheered and my mom captured the magic on video. I ended jogging at the top, arms raised in triumph.

No, I’m not having a seizure. I’m triumphing over adversity.

Except that the camera didn’t work. We had to reenact the magic. No problem. I played “Gonna Fly Now” and ran up the next section of stairs. We got more into it, and my family pretended to be the kids in “Rocky II” who run up the steps with him. We were fucking champions.

But the camera didn’t work again. So, we re-re-enacted the moment, looking more ridiculous than ever but having a great time. Pretending to be Rocky without actually getting punched is pretty sweet. I highly recommend it. You’re gonna eat lightening and you’re gonna crap thunder!


So, my friends? That’s why you have a ragtag group of random people running and jumping around in the background of your prom photos. Years from now, when you’re showing your prom photos to your kids and grand kids, you can tell them that while getting dressed up and fancy is fun? Acting silly and looking stupid is where the real joy is.

Also? You’re gonna regret those white tuxes.


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  • Reply Jenny Hart Boren May 7, 2015 at 5:24 pm

    I generally reserve the overused term "awesome" for truly worthy events (like, I don't know, the appearance of trumpeting angels,) but this is obviously one such occasion. And yes on the prom gowns.

  • Reply Green Girl in Wisconsin May 8, 2015 at 12:14 am

    Your day sounds "capital!" You people know how to have a good time–bet those prom kids felt some envy.
    And yes yes yes to long gowns.

  • Reply Karen (formerly kcinnova) May 8, 2015 at 3:39 am

    Another happy vote for the long prom gowns, props to your state capitol building for being golden, and I'm totally enjoying the visuals and description of your day.
    Happy early birthday!

  • Reply Anonymous May 8, 2015 at 12:09 pm

    First of all, I love the Iowa Capitol building. I'm actually a big fan of Des Moines in general.
    Arcade games, beer, and Rocky steps sound like the perfect birthday to me!

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